We've Got So Much To Talk About

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

13/09/2023 - 16/09/2023

TAHI Festival 2023

Production Details

Creative team:

Performer & creator – Sally Stockwell
Musician, sound design & operation – Chris Marshall
Director – Julia Harvie

‘We’ve Got So Much To Talk About’ is a contemporary theatre gig that takes an unbridled ride through the chaotic world of motherhood with rock ‘n roll songs, stories and a Vegas showgirl thrown in for good measure. Set in a dream world of backstage tour cases, tangled cables, and hanging microphones. Sally Stockwell navigates the live wire mess of parenting with mesmerising vocals, a looping pedal and her body. This solo show touches the jagged edges of early motherhood with honesty, humour and the beating heart of love and validation.

Fresh from its 2022 debut theatre season and the Ōtautahi Tiny Performance Fest, ‘We’ve Got So Much To Talk About’ will appeal to all those who are a mother, know a mother, or have a mother.

Made with the support of Creative New Zealand and the Ōtautahi Tiny Performance Fest.

“We’ve Got So Much To Talk About’ is a defiant cry, is catharsis, is a manifesto, is a release….. Each personal memory shared onstage gestures to the hopes, fears, and stifling expectations women the world over carry….. possessing a fantastic singing voice, Stockwell ranges from siouxsie sioux strength to grimes otherworldliness… Release the Soundtrack’” – Theatre Scenes, Irene Corbett

Loud music and sounds, partial nudity.

When: Wednesday 13 – Saturday 16 September
Time: 9pm
Where: The Dome, BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Mt Victoria
Price: $20 – $25
Duration: 55 minutes
Book here: https://www.tahifestivalnz.com/weve-got-so-much-to-talk-about

Dramaturge & collaboration - Emma Willis
Lighting - Tim Jansen
Choreographic collaborator - Hannah Tasker-Poland
Technical Operators - Rebekah de Roo and Chris Marshall

Made with the support of Creative New Zealand and the Ōtautahi Tiny Performance Fest

Multimedia , Music , Theatre , Solo ,

55 minutes

Draws us into a profoundly human experience

Review by John Smythe 15th Sep 2023

Ever since Euripides’ Medea was first produced in 431BC, motherhood has inspired playwrights.* Is there a new way to explore the topic? Yes! Sally Stockwell’s We’ve Got So Much to Talk About seeks to recover her ‘self’, whoever that was or is, through music, song and a compelling performance that vibrates with her lived experience .

Pre-show we get to contemplate a BATS Dome space festooned with five free-hanging mics – like so many dangling participles in search of a suitable noun, I think in retrospect. Two more mics are placed like quotation marks around a small keyboard and sampler console for looping. A small Vox speaker sits upstage. I wonder if someone has forgotten to strike (theatre-speak for clear away) the huge tangle of disconnected leads but of course there is purpose in their presence.

How can this be part of the TAHI Festival of Solo Performance when clearly the stage is set for a multi-cast concert? As the lights dim, our anticipation of this apparent promise is interrupted by a baby crying. And there we have it: a subtle prologue provoking anticipation of something that dissolves in a wave of reality we cannot ignored.

There is a steady rhythm in Sally’s patting of the Vox box which morphs into arm waving – an attempt to fly? – and finds its meaning when a welcoming wave of applause awakens her to this other reality: she is on stage, expected to perform, we are her long-lost friends and hey – “We’ve got so much to talk about.”

She reminds us, and herself, that she is Sally the actor, the singer-songwriter, the daughter, sister, aunt, mother, wife – and do we remember what we wanted to be when we grew up? Her singing, sampling and looping manifests the mash-up she declares this is, of memoir, fact, fiction, truth and lies; of dreams, memories, fantasies, hopes, doubts …

This is the liminal space Sally inhabits and draws us into with her opening number. She also needs to talk about the fear, the violence, the desperation, the rage – looped to echo – and the hunger to love. We have so much to talk about but where can she find the space and time?

Amid the essential, unpredictable and sometimes urgent attention the vulnerable and increasingly inquisitive child requires, not to mention the recurring nightmare of losing her child, we are treated to non-naturalistic evocations of Sally’s reality.

Her screen audition for the role of ‘the Mother’ begins and ends with painful moments of truth every actor will recognise, and encapsulates a demanding series of domestic and parenting tasks too easily taken for granted by those she performs them for. A song called ‘Sherry and Valium’ (I’m indebted to Sally for sending me her song list and lyrics) medicates the loss of opportunities to bring her creative ideas to life. You don’t have to be an actor to recognise the truth of that.  

A flashback to the birth introduces the theme of being stuck. A fabulous ensemble of feathers and sequins belies the realities canvassed in a showgirl song called ‘Pop Pop’: “I never thought it would come to this / Such an awful lot of body ruin …” It’s an interrogation of Mother Nature that might land more effectively if we weren’t straining to unscramble the lyrics – which I now know are painfully comedic.

Recounting the ever-changing stream of vocations she wanted to embrace when she grew up leads Sally to recall the actual roles she has played as an actor; the ones she was drawn to and her premature casting as the Mum of a son played by an actor just eight years younger than her. She also once played Patient Griselda in Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls. That eye-watering parable (based on the obedient wife in ‘The Clerk’s Tale’ from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), is a salutary reminder of the role wives and mothers were once conditioned to adopt in real life. It also provokes an ingeniously created and comical re-enactment of Sally’s struggle with her male Director to achieve authenticity in the role.

The song ‘Loving Subordinate’ confronts the modern myth that women can do it all: “Everything is possible …”. ‘Pin it Down’ explores the way her magical daughter helps Sally meet her shadow, “the buried and forgotten parts of me”, and acknowledges that her heart now beats within her daughter.

‘Far and Wide’ entreats her daughter, “Don’t think I’m abandoning, you when I run”. ‘Sacrifice & Paradox’ asks “Oh when am I ever gonna reach it? / When am I ever gonna be the thing that I want to be?”

An earlier reference, in ‘Pin it Down’ to “throwing out dead cables” gives meaning to the tangle of leads which at one point is endowed as a lover by being sensually embraced. And in the final song, ‘Vagus’, it becomes “A bed of nerves” and a nest: “I am the nest-maker for your soul / I am the nest-maker of us all”, Sally sings. “I am growing into the knowing / Of how to forgive myself / Of how to hold myself / And how to love myself” – and she adopts the pose of a baby floating in utero, on the nest; the bed of nerves.

We’ve Got So Much to Talk About draws us into a profoundly human experience many women will recognise and the rest of us will appreciate through the empathy theatre is so good at engendering. Don’t wait for the album, experience the show in real time and space.
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*Search results for ‘motherhood’ on Theatreview include: Mums: The Word (2014); A Doll’s House (2015); Medea the Mother (2018); Femme Natale (2018); Rants in the Dark (2020); Not Just a Mother (2023).    


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