THERE’S a quite a lot of Scott McArdle’s childhood in his latest production, Josephine.
The Perth writer/director says he wrote the play for kids and has firsthand experience of the pain they can face growing up.
When McArdle was 11 his school mate died, a grandparent died, and then his parents divorced.
“Loss was a big part of my life,” he says.
“We all hope kids are not going though these things, but they do.”
Josephine is about the resilience of kids, something adults often fail to appreciate,” the playwright says.
“Childhood is a trial by fire that some kids come unscathed out of, and some come away with lifelong trauma.
“How they deal with that is a beautiful, sad triumphant process and I don’t think they get enough credit for their strength.”
The play deals with loss and bullying: “It’s important for kids to have these kinds of conversations,” McArdle says.
Nine-year-old Josephine lives in the vents of an apartment building, and residents suspect she is a ghost: “Or maybe a cat that sleep talks,” McArdle says.
She meets fellow nine-year old William, who plays the cello and is bullied: “He has trouble at school and making friends.”
The pair become buddies, but of course in the best tradition things go awry: William goes missing and it’s up to Josephine to make a choice.
“Is she going to hide in the vents all her life, or have the adventure of a lifetime,” McArdle says.
There’s plenty to engage kids with rollicking adventures involving pirates, ghosts, and haiku.
“To keep kids onside you have to have fun with them…as an adult we forget to have fun,” McArdle says.
Murdoch University graduate Rhianna Hall plays Josephine, Tristan McInnes plays William, the female narrator and Josephine’s Aunt Caroline is played by Jo Morris, and Nick Maclaine is the male narrator.
The music was written by Georgina Cramond and set design by Clare Testoni.
Josephine is on at the kid-friendly time of 6pm, February 6 to 13, at The Blue Room Theatre, as part of Fringe Festival 2018.
Tickets at fringeworld.com.au/josephine
by JENNY D’ANGER