Ellis Finnie (She/Her) is one of four playwrights shortlisted for the Queer Playwriting Award 2023 for her play ‘Ramona Glasgow'
"I wanted this work to reflect on the humour, friendship and love I’ve found as part of the LGBTQIA+ community"
The Naarm/Melbourne-based playwright and producer, stopped by to chat with us here at Midsumma to talk about her recent creative project, 'Romona Glasgow' for QPAS (Queer Playwriting Award Showcase) a part of the Midsumma Presents program, a collaboration between Gasworks Arts Park and Midsumma Festival. She's the Artistic Director of Shrew Loose Productions, an independent live arts company whose mission is to produce accessible and extraordinary theatre with female and non-binary creatives.
Outside of the arts, she's a self-proclaimed habitual cinema-goer, an ‘amateur sommelier’ and in case that isn't enough, she is teaching herself to play the kazoo (with varied success!)
What drew you to apply for QPAS?
"At the time I was developing this play, I asked my best friend to act as a dramaturg and assist me with some historical research. After reading the script, she recommended it might be a good fit for the award and encouraged me to look into it."
"I’ve always loved the way the Midsumma Festival champions and celebrates LGBTQIA+ creatives, and as an emerging playwright I was thrilled to find out about this unique opportunity to engage with it."
Tell us about your play
"Ramona Glasgow is a tragicomedy that reflects on the history and culture of LGBTQIA+ persons in Australia. It explores a relationship between two women in 1960's regional Victoria, who must grapple with questions of morality and public perception in an era where queer relationships were widely condemned and still criminalised in every Australian state."
What’s the message/s you want to get across with this piece?
"Ramona Glasgow is a play about communities – the ones we’re born into, and the ones we build ourselves. I wanted to explore how lives can be altered when people are open to exploring new ideas or experiences, and by surrounding themselves with other people who can expand their worldview."
"At its heart, I wanted the play to be about joy. While the script does engage with some difficult topics, I believe that comedy and tragedy are intrinsically linked, and always enjoy exploring this in my work. I wanted this work to reflect on the humour, friendship and love I’ve found as part of the LGBTQIA+ community."
"It’s also a play about appalling pink wine, Greek mythology, chain-smoking, misadventures with fabric scissors and a cricket named Don Juan."
Who or what inspires your playwriting?
"When I was twelve years old, my father gave me a book called Adventures in Screen Trade by William Goldman, who wrote some of the greatest scripts ever written, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride."
"It was the first book that actively made me think about why we engage with stories, and how we’re influenced by them. I had always loved writing but never thought I could be good at it. Being a writer seemed like a faraway dream, like walking on the moon. But Goldman’s dissection of playwrighting as not only an art form but as a technical craft with puzzle pieces that fit together, made me realise that good scripts are like cogs in a clock – if someone has all the right parts, they can fit them together and make them work."
What are your top 3 favourite stage works you’ve seen?
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour by Lee Hall
The Picture of Dorian Grey by Kip Williams & Oscar Wilde
The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe
If you win QPAS, what’s the first thing you’d do to celebrate?
"Weep theatrically into a lace handkerchief as I accept my statuette and thank The Academy for believing in me."
"Joking! I’ll have a glass of champagne and a hug with my director, Tove. She’s been a part of this script since the beginning and has been absolutely brilliant every step of the way."
What are your plans beyond the competition?
"I want to continue to expand the outreach of Shrew Loose Productions, to offer more opportunities for female and non-binary creatives across Australia. We already have some very exciting plans for 2023, including the first staging of a new script by emerging Australian playwright Elly D’Arcy called Adventurers Weekly. No matter what, I certainly plan to keep writing."
Be the first to hear a snippet of 'Romona Glasgow' and other plays at the Queer Playwrighting Award Showcase, 23 January 2023.
The Queer Playwriting Award Showcase is part of the Midsumma Presents program, a collaboration between Gasworks Arts Park and Midsumma Festival. QPAS identifies, supports and develops original Australian theatre with a queer focus.
Posted 06 Dec 2022 | Article by Izzie Brownbill