The Wives of Hemingway: Interview with Director Zoe Pepper

Posted by Morgan Leek, April 26th, 2012

Perth Director Zoe Pepper is currently in creative lock down developing Side Pony Productions new work The Wives of Hemingway. Along with fellow raconteurs Tim Watts (Alvin Sputnik), Adriane Daff (The Pride) and Eden Falk (POST) the Side Pony team will be holding a public rehearsal of this exciting new work on Saturday 28 April at the Midland Arts Junction.

Performing Lines WA recently had a chat with Zoe to find out more.

Photoshoot Set-up Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Words: Tom Cramond (TC) and Zoe Pepper (ZP)
Images: David Collins, Sarah Rowbottam and Adriene Daff

TC. We are very exciting to be working with you on the first stage development of The Wives of Hemingway. Can you give me a brief rundown of your thoughts behind this new work?

ZP. At the outset we wanted to make a play about some of Ernest Hemingway’s dramatic marriages that ended rather spectacularly.

TC. Ernest Hemingway is somewhat of a polarising character in popular literature, as to is his personal life. Have you always been attracted to his work? And what sort of research has gone into its creation so far?

ZP. Hemingway is pretty new for me. It was a little overwhelming the amount of reading that could be done in preparation for this project. I waded through a fair old chunk of it but things are getting pretty abstracted in the rehearsal room.

TC. I absolutely adore the promotional images taken by David Collins. What were the inspirations behind the images and how did they come about?

ZP. I wanted the promo images to capture the overt theatricality of the show, I think they do that pretty well.

Zoe Pepper and David Collins Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Tim Watts Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Adriane Daff Photo Sarah Rowbottam

TC. The whole concept of a ‘theatre development’ is something many readers may not be familiar with. Can you give a brief rundown of why you are undertaking this process and what exactly goes on during the workshop?

ZP. This development is really to figure out what the show is about. The way I work is a little risky, we started the development with what we know about Hemingway from research but knowing that we really didn’t want to attempt any kind of legitimate biography.

We do extended improvisations to generate characters and then try to figure out the narrative around the characters.

TC. Working with Sydney performer Eden Hill (POST) must be an exciting development, how did this collaboration begin? And what are you hoping his involvement will bring to the development?

ZP. It’s exciting to be working with someone new on this project, to have a fresh perspective in the rehearsal room. I’d seen Eden perform in Sydney and remembered him from WAAPA and asked him to get involved with the project.

Zoe Pepper Photo: Adriene Daff

Tim Watts Photo: Adriene Daff

Eden and Tim Photo: Adrienne Daff

TC. 2012 marks almost six years since Side Pony Productions first work Motor City Blues. Looking back on the company’s development, what are the key moments that have stood out for you in the maturation of your company?

ZP. I think this year is actually the eighth year for Side Pony and that’s a pretty tough question. The Manic Pony is a show that I’m still really proud of, it was great fun and really cemented a style that has carried through into all my shows. When PTC picked up The Pride for a second season, that was a significant moment for the company that validated what Side Pony had been working away at independently for so long.

TC. And lastly, what else do you have cooking in 2012?

ZP. Later this year Adriane and I are going to keep working on The Castle of Good Will, an interactive audio work which we started last year and also I’m off to study film directing for the second half of the year.

The Wives of Hemingway Development Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Wigs Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

Tim Watts and Adriene Daff Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

The Wives of Hemingway
Open Rehearsals
12 – 2pm Saturday 28 April 2012
Midland Junction Arts Centre
276 Great Eastern Highway (corner Cale St)

No RSVP, invitation or ticket required!