A time for sadness – reflecting on the Hollow project.

It will be over three months since Tripwire Theatre Inc. transformed the Daylesford Town Hall for the world premiere of Hollow when the production returns – this time as a full-length screening of the footage from the show.

As the playwright and director, the Hollow project has sat with me for over 2 years – since I first came across the story in around April 2015. It took every ounce of my creative being and my managerial nounce to make it a reality.

Hollow Sponsors the Farmer’s Arms Hotel found out just how emotionally connected I felt to this story when they allowed some of our cast to descent into the cellar under their bar after the final performance. The three lost boys’ remains were kept there in September 1867 while a coroner’s inquest took place – the inquest being one of the most complex scenes in the play. Our reactions ranged from excitement, a sense of dread, awe and for me – the unleashing of 2 years of bottled up emotions. I cried because I had succeeded, I cried because it was finally over, I cried for those little boys who could so easily be my own children, and I cried because they never really got to go home.

I took very seriously my responsibility to my cast and crew, who, like me, were feeling a profound sense of loss once the curtain closed for the last time. We were grieving for this experience which so abruptly comes to an end after 3 months of twice weekly meetings. We were saying a desperate farewell to the emotional connection with each other that forms when we become vulnerable on the rehearsal room floor. We were processing the heartbreaking content of the work, which for many, especially me, was held at arm’s length. And we were simply missing the joy of making great theatre, and knowing we were impacting on our audiences and our community.

With a piece of theatre which evokes the memories of a whole community, which commemorates the loss of three little boys lives and the failure of the townspeople to find them, it’s understandable that it is going to take us time to come down from the high of a successful season, and even more time to process the entire experience.

The screening of Hollow at the Daylesford Cinemas will be the first time any of the cast have seen themselves in performance, indeed the first time they have seen the play in full as an audience member. We can’t guarantee there won’t be more tears.

In the week after the closing performance of Hollow, people were telling me to be glad it is completed, and to think of the next big project – as if the Hollow experience can be so easily put aside in a kind of emotional grant acquittal or banked with the takings from the bar. I was told there is no time for sadness, but Hollow proved to me that that is a fallacy. There is, and must be, a time for sadness at the end of something. Whether it is in the epic tragedy of the three lost children and pausing for a while to honour their memories, or recognising the finality of the final curtain on a wonderful creative experience, we cannot brush aside these feelings.

We must acknowledge that this story, and this project, has been so powerful, and so profound for the Tripwire team and for our audience too.

On the anniversary of the Three Lost Children’s discovering the the hollow of the big gum tree at Musk Creek, Daylesford Cinema will be hosting a special screening of the play’s Saturday evening performance. I hope you can join us for this special event as we continue to honour the boys story and to dwell in that sadness which has so profoundly affected Daylesford.

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