Taking inspiration from Jean Cocteau’s 1930 play of the same name - Pericope presents a contemporary exploration of telephone conversation. A sextuple bill of new works from six of Australia's most exciting young playwrights and a choir! A showcase of humanity’s strangest phone-based quirks: connection to strangers when a wrong number is dialed, the awkwardness of phone-sex, and the imperfect possibilities of true connection via the phone. From the ritual of the family phone call to the uncertain menace of surveillance and privacy, THE HUMAN VOICE is a unique theatrical collaboration that change the way you think about your phone.
Written by Ang Collins, Fiona Spitzkowsky, Georgia Symons, Jean Tong, Lewis Treston and Thomas De Angelis
Director: Benjamin Sheen
Assistant Director: Jess Dick
Production Manager: Sian Halloran
Musical Direction/Composition: Juliana Kay
Sound Design and Composition: Jess Keeffe and David Keeffe
Set and Costume Design: Eloise Kent
Lighting Design: John Collopy
Stage Manager: Lou Howard
Assistant Stage Manager: Zsuzsa Gaynor-Mihaly
Fight Choreography: Josh Bell
Promo photo: Sarah Walker
Cast: Amarachi Okorom, Alex Hines, Chris Wallace, Felicity Steel, Cait Spiker, Mason Phoumirath, Ross Dwyer, Senuri Wagaarachchi
Choir: Alexander Blackman, Caitlyn Bosch, Ellen Brown, Vincent Chiang, Ismini Karamesinis, Juliana Kay, Ian Moriarty, Kade Neale, Elizabeth Paterson, Jenna Sullivan, Chan Ern Theng, Rohan Vicars
Season: 4 March – 13 March 2021 (AUSLAN interpreted on 9 March)
This work will be presented in accordance with the most up to date COVID safety guidelines as outlined by DDHS including distancing, capacity limits and mask wearing.
This project is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program. Additional support from the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation and the Robert Salzer Foundation
Meet the Writers
“The idea came to me when I was on the train back to my hometown of Newcastle. These two middle-aged characters emerged in my mind and I began to think about the phone’s potential to connect people so intimately and so immediately. How was it that two people, after such a long time apart, felt more comfortable reconnecting over the phone than they would meeting face to face?”
Ang is an emerging playwright originally from Newcastle, NSW. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Languages) from the University of Sydney, and a Masters of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance) from NIDA. Theatre credits include: as Playwright: for ATYP: Intersection 2017; for Bondi Feast: 24 Hour Party Playwright, You’ve Got Mail; for Bontom/Red Line Productions at the Old Fitz: Chorus; for Griffin Theatre Company (Batch Festival)/Red Line Productions at the Old Fitz/ The Blue Room Theatre (Summer Nights): Blueberry Play; for Griffin Theatre Company (Batch Festival)/Sotto: You’ve Got Mail; for Periscope Productions: Disparate Scenes for Millennial Dreams; for Q Theatre at the Joan Sutherland Theatre: Project Bestfriendship; and as Dramaturg: for Bondi Feast/Crack X Festival: MARS: An Interplanetary Cabaret; for NIDA: UBU.
Ang has been shortlisted for the Griffin Award in 2017 and the Phillip Parsons Award in 2018, and her play MATE was awarded Highly Commended in Playwriting Australia’s Max Afford Award in 2018. In late 2018 she was the recipient of Create NSW’s Young Creative Leaders Fellowship, for which she is writing a one-act play in partnership with ATYP.
“I find it fascinating that a simple piece of string can capture the nuance of our voices. When I thought about it, I was a bit scared of how little I know about how phones actually work. I wanted to use the tin can phone as a way of examining surveillance today, but also to reflect that little sense of fear of not knowing, and how that ignorance can be manipulated.”
Fiona Spitzkowsky is a writer and theatre-maker with experience in communications and programming in the arts and community services sectors. As a playwright, Fiona has worked with the voice in my hands (A View From Up Here, 2021), Periscope Productions (Disparate Scenes for Millennial Dreams, 2019; Human Voice Redux, 2021), ATYP (National Studio, Fresh Ink Mentorship and Between Us, 2015) and the VCA Director’s seasons (Top Up, 2016; Unicorn Dick and Floodland, 2018). She has presented research at Critical Animals Festival and the VATE State Conference, and completed a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship and NIDA’s Melbourne Launchpad residency. Fiona has worked with young people across various roles at Express Media, as the Youth Programs Coordinator at State Library Victoria, and as Youth Advocacy and Participation Coordinator at the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. She is currently the Programs Coordinator at Western Edge Youth Arts.
“The piece came from my own experience living away from my parents. I wanted to create a piece in which the quotidian rhythms of the phone call take on a sort of transcendent quality, especially when they are examined over the course of a lifetime.”
Georgia is a playwright and game designer based in Melbourne. She is interested in using playful, interactive forms to “play through” complexities. She also works in local government, programming public events on arts, sustainability, technology and ethics. Her writing has been supported by an Australian Theatre for Young People mentorship, a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk fellowship, and an Australia Council ArtStart grant. She has been selected to participate in the Melbourne Festival Directors Lab, and as a writer in the Lonely Company mentorship program. She is an associate artist with the Agency of Coney in London, and holds a Master of Writing for Performance (VCA, 2014).
“I was thinking a lot about Lifeline and how one can form an incredibly strong relationship with a completely unseen person. My play is about a character who frequently provides support to her friend over the phone, and over time we see the line between their friendship and support relationship blurred and become increasingly challenging to navigate.”
Jean Tong is a writer, dramaturg and director. In 2020, Jean was a Philip Parson’s Fellows (Belvoir), Development Assistant at Goalpost Pictures, and Script Co-ordinator on NEW GOLD MOUNTAIN (SBS, Goalpost Television). Jean is currently in development for FLAT EARTHERS: THE MUSICAL (Griffin Theatre), and has previously written HUNGRY GHOSTS (Melbourne Theatre Company); ROMEO IS NOT THE ONLY FRUIT (Malthouse Theatre, MICF; Brisbane Festival); and THE LOCKDOWN MONOLOGUES (Malthouse Theatre).
“I was interested in the idea of authentic conversation and how that works in the context of a phone call. I’ve written two characters that use language very differently and are forced to follow the rigid framework of conversation but end up just butting heads.”
Lewis Treston is a playwright, screenwriter and an artist in residence LaBoite. Full length plays include: IRL (in development with LaBoite) Hubris & Humiliation (in development with STC), Meat Eaters (NIDA, developed by STC), Hot Tub (rehearsed readings at STC and LaBoite), Follow Me Home (ATYP) and Reagan Kelly (NIDA, Metro Arts, Lion and Unicorn Theatre). Short plays include: Condo Osaka and 1800-Real-Talk (Periscope Productions), Ghost Hunter (White Rabbit Theatre) and The Arcade (ATYP). Screenplays include: Elvistown (in development with Screen Queensland), Blood and Tinsel (Essential Media) and Fireworks (Sunday Pictures). Awards and nominations include: recipient of the Patrick White Playwright’s Award (Hot Tub, 2016) and Matilda Award nomination for Lord Mayor’s Best New Australian Work (Reagan Kelly, 2019). He is a graduate from QUT and NIDA and is currently a research student at UQ investigating camp humour.
“I was interested in what you can get away with via a phone call because you don’t have access to body language or eye contact, and therefore it can be much easier to lie. There was obviously comic potential in a play about phone sex, but I wanted to create a situation where phone sex is apparently essential but where neither character really wants to do it, they just think it’s what the other person wants.”
Thomas De Angelis is a playwright, whose recent work for the stage includes “Carry Me” (2020), The House At Boundary Road (2019), “Unfinished Works” (2016), “The Worst Kept Secrets” (2014), and “Jack killed Jack” (2012). Thomas is the artistic director of Bontom, a theatre company that produces original Australian work for the stage and screen. In 2021, Bontom will produce “Disparate Scenes for Millennial Dreams” at KXT, and an original site-specific opera “Track Works” at Mortuary Station in Sydney. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Law, he attended NIDA in 2015 to study a Master Of Fine Arts (Writing For Performance). In 2017, Thomas was awarded the ATYP Rebel Wilson Scholarship, and developed “Come On! The Lleyton Hewitt Musical” as part of his residency. Thomas is the co-creator and dramaturg for an original site-specific opera, “Chamber Pot Opera”, which toured to the Adelaide Fringe Festival (2017), and then internationally to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2017). In 2018, “Chamber Pot Opera” toured to St Petersburg, Russia as part of The International Summer Festival Of The Arts. In 2019, “Chamber Pot Opera” completed its last ever production in the Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at The Sydney Opera House. Since 2018, Thomas has lectured in Australian Film and Theatre at The University of Sydney.