Sparrow (Western Australia, Australia)
1 Sep 2018 - 1 Aug 2019
Writer. Nurse. Daughter. Lover. Friend.
tempest brings this visceral and uncompromising portrayal of local nurse and writer Mollie Skinner through storytelling, letters, telegrams and music, set against a background of World War, personal grief and forbidden love. A new work by Susie Conte, Sparrow is a play about strength and loneliness, and a forbidden love story.
Mollie Skinner was a WA nurse and writer who used episodes and people from her own life to create novels and poems. She came to wider public attention thanks to a chance encounter with the British novelist D.H. Lawrence, who stayed at her guesthouse in Darlington, Western Australia, on his way to Sydney. Together they collaborated on a novel, The Boy in the Bush, and Lawrence’s novel Kangaroo was based on Mollie’s brother Jack and his experiences in Western Australia. For all this, Mollie had been largely pushed to the margins of history as an afterthought in the discussions of D.H. Lawrence’s work. Her life and work faded into relative obscurity.
Skinner’s writing has been described as akin to an “untended garden,” rich in imagery, but scattered and often difficult to follow. In recognition of this, my play takes the form of a series of vignettes and images, a succession of heightened moments, choreographed with sound and movement elements for dramatic impact. Skinner emerges then as a modest but indomitable spirt, poised on the veranda, looking at the world through her failing eyesight; touched by the beauty of it all. The aim of the play is thus to do justice to the spirit of Skinner, without presenting an exhaustive account of her entire life, and in doing so, to present her story to a new generation of West Australians.
“As playwright, Susie Conte has created a work of strength and sincerity.” LA Review thetvolution.com
“Conte’s adaptation takes in the soaring, almost romantic, style of Skinner’s prose. She delivers the performance with a gravitas that allows the audience to get to know Skinner’s life, her isolation and her musings on memory, sexuality and gender.” West Australian
“A simple story of loss and despair eloquently told. A Must.” San Diego Reader