"With Hope is the Saddest we were exploring loneliness specifically, and lack of connection or understanding between people. FAG/STAG however, came from an interest (co-creator) Chris Isaacs and I had in what makes a friendship between straight and gay men different to other friendships," Fowler explains. "It explores how people of different sexualities can benefit from one another's company. I find my friendships with straight men much less tricky than my friendships with gay men."
"FAG/STAG shows two men in their late 20s sitting down and telling the story of the month leading up to the wedding of one of their (ex) best friends. Chris and I based it on our own friendship, and our own experiences of feeling that the people around us were growing up faster than we were," Fowler says. "Minnie and Mona Play Dead, on the other hand, is about two friends: Minnie who wants to play childish games and Mona who wants to die. I was commissioned to write it by director Kathryn Osborne and worked with the actors in the play to explore what it's like when a person in your life is suicidal. The play alternates between rough comedy and verbatim theatre."
While both shows look at similar themes of relationships between people and connecting with one another, the process of devising each of these shows was a contrasting experience for Fowler. "I am a very collaborative artist but every show I make has a different process depending on the build of the team. Chris and I actually didn't really write FAG/STAG. We had long discussions about it and then did long form improvisations that we recorded and then transcribed," he says. "With Minnie and Mona Play Dead, I wrote alone at home and then brought the script in to Kathryn, Gita and Arielle (both from The Last Great Hunt) each day who then workshopped the script with me and gave me feedback."
"Minnie and Mona Play Dead came from an exploration of depression, and what it's like to be depressed or have someone near you depressed. It is perhaps the hardest play I've ever written and it receives extremely mixed reviews: some people walk out, others give us standing ovations," Fowler says. "But I believe that audiences should be entertained, provoked, challenged and hopefully moved." Having seen Hope Is The Saddest, I have no doubt that both FAG/STAG and Minnie and Mona Play Dead will do just that.
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival