Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical? - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

For a country that prides itself on sport, particularly football, the doping scandal that plagued the AFL in 2013 was a devastating blow to the nation. After being investigated by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the World Anti-Doping Agency over the legality of its supplements program during the 2012 AFL season, the Essendon Football Club was fined $2 million, banned from the 2013 finals series, and suspended its senior coach and general manager. They're the perfect ingredients to create a musical comedy out of right? Well Kit Richards seems to think so with her new Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical? 

After being nominated for the Golden Gibbo and Green Room Awards in 2019 for Wool! The Musical, Richards is looking forward to tackling this scandal, and while it might be very different to the wool industry, the two are more closely linked than you'd think. "I recently bought an Essendon guernsey that was made out of Merino wool and the tag on it said ‘Australian Rules Football and the wool industry are knitted together geographically, socially and financially’ so I guess it was fate!" she tells me. "Seriously though, the history of wool was a topic that had plenty of comedic potential but I always like to grow and develop as a writer so I thought it would be interesting to tackle something I don’t find funny. In that way, that was a natural progression but to outsiders, it’s probably a bit of a leap."

"I knew I wanted to do a show about football, and the Bombers are my team so for a while I was throwing around ideas at family gatherings. At first it was going to be a show about Kevin Sheedy then it was going to be about the Baby Bombers but then I thought, hey, why not write about the most controversial incident in the club’s (and potentially the whole sport’s) history?" Richards explains.

Richards quickly realised that she wouldn't be able to go through the same story formation she had used for Wool! "I have a very logical brain, so my creative process is highly structured to begin with. I always start with research (a lot more needed for Wool!) and then take the main beats of the narrative and write them out. For Wool!, I followed the characters and it was more plot heavy but for Scandal!, I have stuck to telling an emotional journey as it’s more intimate in nature, with almost no hat changes. Obviously, it’s based on football, but it’s also extremely relatable for non-football fans, so don’t let that put you off!" she says.

"The other big change from Wool! is that I received much help with this show. I have Scott Edgar as my dramaturg/script editor so I’ve bounced off him a lot and he’s a genius and a sweet man. My friends Elly Hewitt, Dom Buckham and Kelly Dingeldei helping me with the music, Elizabeth Wilhelm directing, Emma Sharp producing and good old Lucy Rees (the director of Wool!) there for moral support. When I created Wool!, it was just me, a piano and a million messages to Lucy but now I have numerous people to send those millions of texts to."

With two notches on her belt, it's fair to assume Richards has a seemingly limitless wealth of subjects and issues to sing about and present future projects on. "I have some bouncing around up top. I would love to do a show about Nancy Wake. She was this incredible cool Aussie who fought for the French resistance in World War 2. I think she would be a great subject," she says. "I also have a personal show in my head at the moment that I call it my Nanette. I’m not quite ready as an artist/performer to make that yet, so it’ll likely be a few years from now. At the end of the day, I have learned that being oddly specific is a sure-fire way to get the laughs. That and a super long title. Give me an event and I’ll give you a musical!"

FIVE QUICKIES

1) When did you realise you were funny?
When I was young, my friend Grace and I would put on plays for our parents and she would always be the main character and I would be everyone else. That brought a lot of laughter to my mum. Especially when I played a character who wore undies on their head.
2) What is your favourite word?
I love the word dickhead. It’s funny and it feels fun to say. But I also love it most when it’s used in an affirming way. Like calling my friend a beautiful dickhead or something.
3) If you were arrested with no explanation, what would your friends assume you had done? 
I get so anxious about breaking rules that they would probably think it was a huge mistake but I would like to think they would think it was for unlawful protesting or something.
4) If animals could talk, which would be the rudest?
Ducks. It’s something in their hunger for bread.
5) Which character from a TV show most reminds you of yourself?
Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. With a splash of Abbi Abrams from Broad City.

SHOW DETAILS

Venue: Trades Halls, 54 Victoria Street, Carlton
Season:
6 - 19 April, Mon-Sat (no show Wed) 8:15pm, Sun 7:15pm
Length:
60 minutes
Tickets:
$27-29 Full | $24-26 Conc | $25 Tightarse Tuesday and Preview
Bookings: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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