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Words by Rémy Chadwick

Kerith Manderson-Galvin really hates the tendency to read meaning into language. “Why can’t a word just be a word?,” she laments.

Kerith is a playwright.

She acknowledges the contradiction here; it’s perhaps fitting that theatre is her chosen medium, given that it exists because of interpretation. In theatre, a creative team interprets words on the page (or in the mind), translating them into the language of the stage. An audience in turn deciphers this. A playwright’s job is to ensure that the spectator experience is as rich as what was originally envisioned, even though the two worlds may differ completely.

The disjunction between word and meaning fascinates Kerith, and it lies at the heart of her new work, don’t bring lulu. When asked about an important line from the play, Kerith starts talking about the ubiquitous expression “I love you”, which carries so much unspoken baggage. In many instances it is conditional, outlining certain boundaries and declaring specific actions. But it can also be read in ways it was not intended; it can mean different things for different people, even when in the same situation.

The play is an enigma because of Kerith’s contrarieties. On the one hand, she holds doubts about theatre’s ability to change the world—she is happy for it to “just exist”. On the other hand, she affirms theatre’s obligation to be politically and socially aware.

don’t bring lulu is thus a result of her obsession with femininity, relationships and violence. She would, however, prefer that the audience constructed their own sense of the piece—while finding it as funny, sexy, sad, and scary as she does.

A large amount of Kerith’s personality seems to have found its way into her characters and she is quick to justify this. “I am the only point of reference I have,” she says. Exploring herself in her own work gives her the opportunity to understand and say new things; writing somebody else’s perspective might not.

However, Kerith admits not fully trusting her own experiences of the world. “I don’t actually know if anything [in don’t bring lulu] is true, least of all my own memories,” she says. In one sense, this is empowering for an artist. For Kerith, it gives her permission to use her memories as she wishes, which is perhaps why she finds playwriting therapeutic.

Kerith is confident the show will look good and boast strong production values, and is clear about her visual inspiration. ,“I take from popular culture because I can see the stuff I’m interested in exists all around me,” she says.

Kerith offers special thanks to Union House Theatre director Tom Gutteridge, who she says has been very supportive of her work. Ironically, she specifically lauds his ability to find elements in the text that she didn’t know were there—in other words, his ability to interpret the play.

don’t bring lulu is appearing 22-24, 28-31 May 2014, 7:30pm
Union Theatre, ground floor, Union House,  University of Melbourne
Tickets available www.trybooking.com/EQXO

FROM THE WRITER-

The other night I saw this friend of mine, he must be 46 I think and I don’t know very much about him except for what he does for a job and even that I’m a bit unsure of. We used to know each other a few years ago. Once I was in Sydney rehearsing a show and I knew he was going to go to Sydney too so I said I’d stay an extra night and get us a hotel and then I got really overwhelmed looking at wotif.com or lastminute or which ever website and I really panicked because there were so many choices, so I ended up paying $700 or something ridiculous for a night in a penthouse in this boutique hotel. I didn’t even like the hotel that much and I couldn’t think of anything to say to him. And some how I’d made it look like I really wanted him or wanted something from him and it wasn’t like that at all but I didn’t know how to explain. We didn’t really see each other after that-or not until the other night- or I don’t think we did. Actually I think we did see each other one more time after that time and it’s a really great story. Anyway, when I saw him the other night I hugged him hello and he went in for this kiss and pashed me and I got confused because I was leaning in for a hug and also because I couldn’t remember if we’d ever really kissed before. And he told me I looked beautiful and I felt confused by that too. Then he stuck his fingers in my mouth and told me I was a good boy and I didn’t care so much about the kiss or the beautiful.

A MESSAGE TO THE WRITER

go create some art or fetish play or whatever it is you do.

Because clearly that needs more work and time,

OkCupid Message #1:


HIM: hello tiny dancer 😀 Having a fun filled Say night? Would you like to promote safe sex with me? An oral only session! You’re looking very very yummy ;D

HIM: well and needless to say, i would love to feed on you for a few hours 😉

ME: No. Just no. Actually not just no. What you have just said to me is incredibly insulting. Just because I promote and advocate for safe sex does not mean you in any way have the right to talk like that to me.

ME(cont.): I really think you owe me an apology but first I want to make sure you understand why you said was more than inappropriate and edging on violent.

Do I ‘deserve’ it if I’m wearing a short skirt? I hope you’d say no.
So I also don’t deserve that just because I mention safe sex.

Also please ensure you are using barrier methods for oral sex.

Thanks

HIM: I humbly apologise for the dreadful misinterpretation and for having insulted you in such fashion. Despite my woeful interpretation of your intentions, i do actually highly value respect and respecting ones boundaries. I honestly hope it wasn’t overly upsetting

ME: Great.
Don’t speak to women like that.

HIM: ps. you don’t deserve to be objectified in any way, regardless of what you’re wearing. It was only a case of misinterpretation (and as i alluded to, a terrible one).

Being a bit of a hygiene freak (borderline ocd), i tend to only have oral sex with those who acknowledge and maintain a similar standard of hygiene. This allows me to enjoy everything a woman has to offer, without having to be fearful of contracting diseases.

HIM (cont.): You’re the second woman i’ve misinterpreted in such fashion, ever. Otherwise, they’ve always been receptive and enthusiastic.


 

OkCupid Message #2:


HIM: (January) You look great! Would u care for some tennis for fun? I know a bearded man who may be keen.

ME: (Mar 25, 2013 – 12:35pm)
Hi, would u be interested in playing tennis with a beautiful charming bearded dude I know?

HIM: Well obviously I’m not beautiful or charming anymore so I’ve changed my go-to message a bit. Obviously I send the same to everyone I’m inerested in.

ME: Sometimes twice.

HIM: I’m sure I’ve sent it more than twice to some. Recently I started to hide anyone I get in touch with, so they don’t show up again when I browse. This way I can avoid wasting time on girls I’ve already approached.

ME: You’re so fucking considerate.

HIM: You’re not very friendly

ME: I don’t like tennis.


 

OkCupid Message #3:


 HIM: beautiful costume. hot body.

ME:

Hi ******,
I suggest next time you contact a woman you do not comment on her body.
Good luck as a future feminist,
******

HIM: Thank you for your well-structured and polite advice.
Good luck as an already very politically correct person.


 

OkCupid Message #4:


HIM: More information for you :

I am looking for a smart , attractive, fun , no drama lover …that is fabulous in bed ….for discreet daytime liaisons during the day on weekdays in a CBD hotel room.

If we were in Paris or New York , I would be happy to take you out, but I am happily married and hence cannot be seen out in public in Melbourne .

I would want to see you say once every two or three weeks, depending on how busy I am. I am a good friend and mentor and 100% reliable. This sort of arrangement suits me well and I am experienced and well practised.

I will pay you some cash each time I see you…say $300 – $400 each time plus the cash for the hotel room , which you will need to book and pay for as my staff process my credit card payments. Hotels always require credit or debit card booking or payment , or identification in relation to cash payment. I always do it that way and if you require additional comfort, then I can provide the cash for the hotel room in advance of our first time, though you can probably already gleam that it will not be an issue.

You will also get additional bonuses/ financial help as we get to know each other…plus a friend/mentor to bounce things off…

Please feel free to email me photos or a video…as revealing and daring as you feel comfortable sending. I will text you back some photos.

HIM: so……….

ME: Yes I forgot to reply!

I found your message fairly insulting if I’m quite honest.

Particularly your request for more images of me.

I’d also like to point that you wrote “your’s”

Yours needs no apostrophe.

So….I’m sorry but I don’t think we would be a good match.

Thanks x

HIM: no intention to offend…moving on to the next step usually involves a brief exchange of further photos and/or Skype plus a phone chat..

don’t worry…I think you are very attractive…

“your’s” is actually correct….trust me…(“its” does not have the apostrophe but your’s does)

and contrary to what you think, I believe we would be great together…you might be pleasantly surprised

what have you got to lose…i’m sure you have been underwhelmed by the competition….

xxx

ME: This will drive me mad.

Google your’s apostrophe.

Your answer awaits.

Yours kindly