The minds behind last year's critically acclaimed Cactus and the Mime return to the Melbourne Fringe Festival with a brand new show, or maybe that should be four brand new shows. PURGASTORY is the latest creation by Caitlin Spears and Roby Favretto in which the two perform four separate stories, in a time-warped anthology revolving around chasing your dreams, whatever they may be.
"PURGASTORY is a dramedy exploring passion and patience," Spears tells me. "The show features a range of characters from English maidens, Aussie tradies, a teenage songstress,
a LA music producer, a desperate senior and an android from the future, dealing with their aspirations in life versus their ability to achieve them. I think it's a concept that many of us can relate to."
Spears and Favretto had initially planned on taking on more roles than just four each but with the development of the show the two began to see that certain characters were just itching for more stage time. "We had thought to challenge ourselves with multiple characters in the beginning, but the stories then became about exploring a concept spanning time and how characters in different time periods connected with each other," Spears says. "In the end we chose these particular stories because we were drawn to the contrasting archetypes and how they could be subverted, from the 90s blokey Aussie tradie to the crazy cool LA music producer to the very posh English lady."
"Personally, I found myself drawn to Nikki Nicci, our resident pop star. The working environment that she has to face is very similar to the current entertainment industry and as a singer she is also the one I have related to the most. Comparatively I found Brownie our resident homophobic Aussie tradie much more confronting as a character and he is definitely more distant from my own life, but all the more fun to play."
While the two theatre makers/performers have only officially formed their company Prickly Silence this year, they have been collaborating on works for many years before. "Roby
and I have been in a relationship for as long as we have been working together. We have a very blunt and incredibly honest way
of communicating and we don’t tend to pull punches in our creative process," Spears says.
"Our work environment involves many passionate discussions, sometimes
about tiniest details as we strive to make more connections and tell
better stories with our work. While this bluntness doesn’t work for
everyone, it’s working great for us so far."
don’t tend to distinguish couple time versus show time, as we get so caught
up in new work. We are constantly spit-balling ideas and working on
the show at all hours of the day. It's pretty common for us to be on our
laptops until late into the night going over scripts, emails and other details," Spears explains. "We play off each other’s strengths, and when
someone tires in our work, the other is always there to pick it up. I
love working together because we have fun, we laugh probably too much at
times, and the feeling I get when we connect all the dots in a show is
With the success that Prickly Silence earned with Cactus and the Mime, which included a Western Australian Fringe Festival Tour Ready Award and a Best Performance nomination at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival, does the second show create more pressure for success or is there more confidence in putting everything together? "As a performer, confidence is something that you ‘fake it till you make it’. Cactus and the Mime was an incredible show to begin our creative journey and I feel incredibly thankful for how well it was received," Spears recalls.
"I think that the success has definitely resulted in putting more pressure on myself as I want to succeed and do better with every show we present. Cactus and the Mime gave me the confidence that taking chances and trying new ideas can pay off, but I am still quite nervous. At the end of the day no matter how I feel, I remind myself that this is a brand new show, with new ideas, and that we write for Fringe in order to explore and not to create perfection."
PURGASTORY highlights the need for both passion and patience in making dreams become reality. While this advice is all well and good, it is still something that Spears - like most people - has trouble balancing. "I believe I am a passionate person who struggles with aspects of patience," she says. "If I have a deadline I can be incredibly patient, but when there is no set end date I think I struggle. Waiting is manageable, as long as you know how long you’re waiting for."
"I also think there are things in all our lives that we are passionate about, but will never be patient enough to see through. I adore playing the piano, but am not patient enough to do an hours practice every day for two years so I can play it. I think the balance between passion and patience is something that requires constant attention."
Five Quick Ones
1. Art is essential.
2. If you had to become an animal, which would you choose and why?
A dolphin. They are smart, can swim and have the capacity to do activities purely for recreational purposes. Dolphins have been known to use semi poisonous fish to get high, which I find hilarious!
3. What song would you play on repeat to torture someone?
A combination of a goat screaming intermittent with pig squeals. Or the "Crazy Frog" song.
4. How long would you survive in a zombie apocalypse?
Not very long, I expect to awake one morning to find Roby about to eat me. His legs are much longer than mine so I don’t have much chance of escape.
5. It just isn't a Fringe Festival experience without something going wrong the week before the show, anything, doesn’t even have to be show related.
Venue: Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne
Season: 22 - 29 September | Tues - Sat 7:45pm, Sun 6:45pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $24.50 Full | $18.50 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival