If Lally Katz’s aunt hadn’t been dragged her to a New York transsexual karaoke bar she may never had written “Waikiki Palace.”
“When I was in New York I decided to get a ticket to Waikiki, but I lost my passport in a bar when I was drunk. My aunt took me to this transsexual karaoke bar, it was during the Republican Convention, there were armed guards everywhere, so I thought I’d have my passport with me. Then I got stuck [in Waikiki] because of my passport and ended up at a youth hostel where I met the people that are the inspiration for the play.”
Does that mean there’s a transsexual identity-thief travelling the world as Lally Katz?
“I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the 27 year old playwright had juggled with gender: her last play in Australia contained two characters called Lally Katz, one of which was a male detective and neither of whom were played by the author.
“This is the first [play] that I haven’t been in for a while, I suppose I’m self obsessed.”
Along with Adam Grossetti’s “3606/202,” a sequel of sorts to his award winning study of 1930s Queensland Italian mafia “Mano Nera,” “Waikiki Palace” is the next in Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘Push’ series which gives writers and directors eight days to rehearse and stage a play that conforms to the ten-point ‘Manifesto’ of Wharf 2Loud directors Brendan Cowell and Chris Mead.
‘Waikiki Palace,’ directed by Chris Kohn, is the story of 30-something divorcee Prairie, and her affair with 22 year old backpacker Jack.
“They’ve had an affair but it’s coming to an end and she wants to have this night of connection and love but all these things happen to spoil it. I think it says something about women in our time, that it’s not cool to be affected by casual sex, that you should be like a man.”
Katz had no problem fitting into the Manifesto.
“I really like rules, especially obscure rules, because it means I’ve got something to bounce off.”
Others haven’t been so accepting of Cowell and Mead’s maxims.
Mead: “We almost had a fight at the launch between a couple of directors over whether it was a good idea or not.”
“There were lots of arguments,” says Cowell, “some quite heated, that was the whole idea. The theatrical event is only half finished when the play’s over, people have a few Amstels and suddenly everyone’s shouting at each other. That’s why we have the bar.”
And the bands, which will feature beforehand on Fridays, and Saturday DJs after, during which Cowell may be having a quiet word with Adam Grossetti who seemed a little unsure of his ability to fit in with the Manifesto.
“I find it quite hard to fit in anywhere,” he says from the corner of an Erskineville hotel.
Okay, Rule 1: No junk.
No, milk crates or hip flasks.
“That’s going to be hard, I carry 17 hip flasks on me at any given moment. Perhaps there should be a manifesto about the manifesto?”
Grossetti’s ‘3606/202’, directed by Chris Kohn, examines fear-mongering and the resultant deterioration of human rights.
“It was inspired by the process my great uncle went through when he was interned during WWII. He’d been naturalised for 26 years.”
He was also president of an Italian-Australian social club, which brought him under suspicion as Mussolini marched into Abyssinia. However “3606/202” expands into the present to show the commonality of Grossotti’s experience.
“It’s the same guy or girl in Belfast, Auschwitz or a porn set in Hollywood, the significance is we’ve been doing this for a long time and haven’t learnt anything. I was struck with the idea of if you start at this point where do we go in terms of what we do to each other, the process of stripping people of their rights. It seems to me that it’s a quick and slippery slide down to the acts of depravity we’ve seen in Abu Ghraib.”
Grossetti utilised transcripts of interrogations from The National Archives.
“It was the beginning of ASIO. You know what? I bet they had a manifesto.”
Push 3: “3606/202” by Adam Grossetti. Directed by David Field. 7,8,9 September. 8:15pm
(Friday “Sarah Aubrey & The Audio Visual Club” 6:30pm, Saturday DJ Mostyn after.)
Push 4: “Waikiki Palace” by Lally Katz. Directed by Chris Kohn. 14,15,16 September. 8:15pm
(Friday “H*t Yeah” 6:30pm, Saturday DJ Mostyn after show)
Wharf 2, Sydney Theatre Company