Walking With The Dirt Sister

Grey grey, grey dirt, grey mud...green mossAs part of a multiple-sourced demand that I take some time to relax I have recently taken to going for short wanders to some of my favourite places in between appointments and projects.

At the moment I have to limit them in distance and accessibility due to an injured-but-healing foot, but there are still a lot of places that can be accessed by a relatively short, flat walk.

Naturally this has done wonders for my creativity and the mini-trips have spilt onto my notebook pages in sketch and scrawled note….and, being a slightly shameless Y Gen; my iPhone’s Image Gallery and Instagram are seeing their share of documentation too.

I’m finding my inherited iPhone a blessing, as beaten up as it is. In my wanders I come across scenes, images and the like that I want to keep – the barren orchard trees in winter and the jagged hedge that guards them, rust the colour of a sunset on the latch of a gate without a fence, the winter sun filtering through gum trees to dance on the still waters of billabongs…a quick swipe and tap of a finger and I have them captured.

This past weekend I happened upon something perfect for an upcoming tale – a low-lying piece of land near the Yarra that had clearly been flooded until recently.
The bare earth was patched with dark grey puddles and the trees were all painted with a cracked and lifeless, ash-grey silt. The only colour was tucked in pockets of bark and branch – brilliant emerald patches of moss.

I’ve been interested in creations of earth of late and the textures in this photo will be inspiration and reference for the puppets or props in my newest story “The Dirt Sister”…or at least for the staged version.

A sketch of Dirt Sister

I am finding the Dirt Sister a little more comfortable to write than I had expected, despite the slightly more graphic nature, as in some ways it’s closer to the stories I wrote in high school than a lot of the stories in Red Bird.

 There’s less black and white, more greyed and blurred. Bad things happen to good people, bad people save the day…heroes are assholes. While I loved the tales in Red Bird, I wonder if some of the stories I was playing with were a little safe, not knowing what to expect, from the show, audience or myself.

After all, the last time most of the audience had heard a story, they were grasping a teddy and sippy cup.

Not that there’s any wrong with a safe story, but with an audience of adults I’m starting to feel I can explore the realms a little more without making sure the werewolves brush their teeth or doing background checks on advisors to the crown. Trust them to still see the magic in a tale without a crisp ‘Happy Ever After’.

I think Dirt Sister and it’s ilk may make for a interesting new group of tales in my collection. I’m excited to see what comes of it.

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