Liv from VIMH here. I’m going to be producing a project later this year called let bleeding girls lie at La Mama Courthouse (8-19 December 2021) and I want to make sure that it is taking place in conversation with my community.
What is it?
let bleeding girls lie is about the transformational impact of a single encounter between Lou, Juice and Grace, three strangers sitting beside each other as they donate plasma at the Collins Street blood bank in Melbourne. It’s early morning, and they’re making small talk. This shatters when news breaks on the breakfast TV program screening throughout the centre – a deadly stadium bombing, targeting a pop concert’s audience of pre-teen girls.
The newscast creates a tear in the reality of the space as all three women imagine being trapped in the stadium. This shared imagined space is dark, horrifying, focused on the obliterating effects of fear on the body. We cut rapidly back and forth between this space and the women in the blood bank watching the first reports of the attack.
The flashing scenes stop as suddenly as they start and their small talk transforms into one long unfolding conversation that is marked by a grief-induced intimacy. The newscast has triggered a visceral experience of fear and loss in each of them and they seek to mediate this by reaching out to each other.
The scenario for let bleeding girls lie occurred to me when my partner Julian and I were at the Collins Street Blood Bank in May 2017. Jules was donating plasma during the first 90 minutes of the Manchester Arena attack and we watched as hundreds of bleeding girls streamed out of a stadium, 17,000kms away.
The attack targeted pop star Ariana Grande and her fanbase of adolescent girls and its reportage was broadcast globally. I am using this global framework to explore the daily lived reality of gendered violence, the ever-present and continuous threat of if it in public space. Now more than ever, the lack of structural support means that management of this threat falls to those who are threatened. let bleeding girls lie offers the intimacy between these three women – their reaching out to each other – as a management strategy.
let bleeding girls lie is the final part of a trilogy of plays (my sister feather  and I sat and waited but you were gone too long ) which explore the experience of grief and loss in the female body and how women connect with each other in public space. I have been developing a text-based theatre making practice with the same ensemble of artists through the production of this body of work, as I try to explore alternative modes of being together in both content and process.
I want to open up this work to other artists who might be interested in engaging with it and I’m very open to what this might look like. This could include:
creating an assistant director position;
running workshops, on the bleeding girls writing/making process, VIMH’s working practice, or idea generation and development;
other options that cover your specific interest(s) that might intersect with the project.
How can I get involved?
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details, some information about yourself, and what you’d like to get out of the experience and/or how you think the project might intersect with your interests. I’m going to do my best to accommodate anyone/everyone who is keen to be involved.
VIMH is incredibly excited to announce that in 2021 we are going to be running our first associate artist program, inviting four artists to work with us across the year to develop their individual practice with a focus on fostering and strengthening connections within our community.
2020 has presented intense and unique challenges to the arts. Individual artists, institutions, companies, venues and audiences have all been impacted by the social and economic challenges of the extended Melbourne lockdown, by restrictions on gathering and by the emotional tolls of fear, uncertainty and isolation. Our community has been badly bruised (but not broken) and it’s in the spirit of healing and reconnection that we have decided to run the VIMH associate artist program. We’re thinking of it as our love letter to Melbourne.
The program will take place across nine months between March and November. Each associate artist will be asked to bring a “project” to the program that they want to work on across the year. This project could be a performance work they’re creating, an area of creative investigation they want to delve into, a specific skill-set they want to develop, or something else that we’ve not thought of that excites that artist.
Across the course of the year the four artists will meet online together with VIMH on a monthly basis to collectively engage with these various projects, develop skills and approaches, provide feedback and support, and create a collective practice of creative critical thinking and ongoing reflection. We hope that this monthly coming together through shared practice helps to develop deep connections between the artists involved as well as provide a platform for each artist to extend their practice.
The associate artists will also have the chance to observe the work happening in VIMH’s rehearsal rooms. In 2021 will be presenting two new works, The View From Up Here by Fiona Spitzkowsky (directed by Julian Dibley-Hall), and let bleeding girls lie written and directed by Liv Satchell. The associates will be invited to be a part of the community of artists that are bringing these new performances to life and Liv and Jules will facilitate critical dialogues with the associates around what they’ve witnessed, how and why certain processes are being used, working methodologies, and care as a priority in the rehearsal room.
In 2021, VIMH will also be running a number of “in-person” workshops which we will offer to the community more broadly. The associates will be invited to attend these events as part of the program to further their individual and collective practice. These workshops will focus on creative community development, with topics including: producing a values charter; idea articulation and development; financing projects; and ecology mapping. We hope that by opening these workshops out to more members of our community, we can be a small part of creating energy, connection and space to dream where we as a community might go next.
As we sail into the last weeks of this storm-riddled 2020, VIMH would like to extend our love, respect, admiration and care to every one of you. We are deeply moved by the resilience that’s been evident this year despite the individual challenges everyone has faced. We can’t wait to connect with you either through one of our 2021 programs, at a show, over the phone, over a coffee, in a rehearsal room. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Jules and Liv x
VIMH associate artist EOIs will be open until Tuesday 8 December, 11.59pm. Please follow the link here for the EOI form and shoot us an email at email@example.com if you have any questions.
I’m writing a play called let bleeding girls lie. It’s about three strangers donating plasma in the same row of chairs when a terrorist attack is broadcast live through a blood donation centre in Melbourne. Two nail bombs have gone off in a stadium full of pre-teen girls. The internalised violence it triggers in these three women (played by Chanella Macri, Belinda McClory and Emily Tomlins) makes them seek safety in each other, foregoing small talk for grief-induced intimacy.
What’s this play about?
It’s about intimacy as resistance, about women overcoming strangeness to manage the threat(s) of public space. It’s also about grief and care, forming the final part of a trilogy I’ve been writing and directing since 2016. It was meant to receive its world premiere at La Mama in October of this year, but the world imploded. Instead, I’ve been working on the text with my team via Zoom, getting it ready for whenever we may be allowed back into shared space (and our art form).
This has made me think a lot about how COVID-19 is impacting our work. I’m not thinking about the slew of solo shows that are almost inevitable once/if we get out of this: “My Isolation”, “Lock Me Down”, “10 Things I Learned to Do Rather Than Sitting With My Own Thoughts”.
I’m also not thinking about the material impact – the existential crisis triggered for a craft defined by people sharing public space, when the sharing of public space is now tightly legislated and potentially lethal.
I’m thinking about what we have become sensitive to in this new world order. There is a book that I loved as a kid that helps me here – Pamela Allen’s Mr Archimedes’ Bath. In it, Mr Archimedes’ bath always overflows, and he always has to clear up the mess, until the day he decides to find out where all the overflowing water is coming from.
A short story short – he realises that the more his body sinks into the water, the more water is displaced. It’s a story about volume metrics, and I wonder if I can reverse engineer it to pinpoint these new sensitivities.
What if: COVID-19 is the body of Mr Archimedes, and we can measure it by what it’s displacing. What is the water in this analogy/tenuous thought experiment?
Cut back to the scenario for let bleeding girls lie, which occurred to my partner Julian and I at the Collins Street Blood Bank in Melbourne in May 2017. Jules was donating plasma during the first 90 minutes of the Manchester Arena Attack and we watched as hundreds of girls streamed out of the stadium, covered in shrapnel holes. I transcribed the captioned reportage from that morning, thinking of three women who may – in this scenario – bypass the conventions of small talk and reach out to each other in this moment. I wrote it in bits and pieces across the end of 2018 and throughout 2019, and we had our first creative development at Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray in November last year. All definitively pre-COVID.
Cut to May of this year and our first Zoom reading. I have not touched the script since Bluestone. November 2019 feels like a lifetime ago (instead of only 6 months). I gaze at the beloved faces of my collaborators and friends as they start to read aloud from St Kilda East, Carlton, and Pascoe Vale South. What immediately strikes me – two elements of this text have now become radically active. Previously, they were part of the work, but they were not What The Work Was About. Now, they ring out like fire alarms.
The risk of going outside
Lou: Imagine being at your first concert and then this happens.
Juice: Roll of the dice, isn’t it?
Lou: I guess there’s always the risk of something like this happening if you go outside these days.
Grace: God, is there? You’d never leave the house if you thought like that.
Lou: (shrugs) Maybe you think it’s worth the risk.
Grace: You can’t always think about it though /
Lou: But it still impacts the choices you make. […]
Risk. In the “old” play, it was speaking to a) the arbitrariness of nature and our inability to control our environment, and if we are willing to succumb to or accept this; and b) the physical and emotional vulnerabilities of a minority body in public space.
But risk has a whole new meaning now. “You’d never leave the house if you thought like that” feels particularly bittersweet in Melbourne right now, when its citizens have sat or are sitting on a spectrum of lockdown that directly correlates your choice to leave the house with making yourself, your loved ones, or even complete strangers sick, perhaps terminally so.
2. The need to connect
Think back to that first lockdown in March and the frenzy of social contact almost all of us engaged in (in this tenuous analogy I like to think of people as sharks, and a bucket of chum as the internet). Zoom calls with your family, friends, people you hadn’t spoken to since high school; offers to do groceries; offers to check in on frail neighbours or relatives; international concerts, yoga, forums and panels now streamed into our living rooms; our eyes falling out of our heads and our hearts from our sternums as our screens sucked us dry from our need to connect in some way as it became physically impossible to do so.
Chanella spoke to this in our conversation after this first read, particularly about how this played out in public space. The phenomena many of us experienced when getting our walk of the day, of counterbalancing the wide berth we gave each other in the street with the “active greeting”. There was something about needing to go so out of our usual way to physically avoid each other that we needed to remedy it by making sure we made eye contact and that we said “hello”. I know I greeted more strangers in that month than I perhaps ever had before (and it’s not uncommon for me to talk to strangers).
This is what now rings out about the opening of let bleeding girls lie. These three women, strangers to each other, spend the first 12 pages of a 61-page play (almost one fifth of the work) trying their hand at making conversation. The nail bomb hasn’t gone off yet, and they’re just three people passing an hour. But what is remarkable is the yearning in each of them for this connection. They each have their reasons for this – grief, loneliness, curiosity: a whole rainbow of desire. But that’s what pops now – the active effort of reaching out, the importance of trying to connect (however short of the mark it may fall).
So, the water here is to do with our bodies in relation to other bodies. It’s about our desire to share space and the dangers of now doing so. It’s about our fundamental need to be physically together -this is what’s displaced by the wretched body of COVID-19 getting into the bath.
To me, this is how the pandemic is impacting our art. It’s a new context – a 1-in-100-year one. It is framing new sensitivities, which are to do with foundations that are no longer there. They’ll come back, but we’re now aware that they are carpet rather than concrete.
This online development of let bleeding girls lie has been supported by a City of Melbourne Quick Response Arts Grant. The show is scheduled for production in 2021.
VIMH is delighted to announce the first two participants of its mentorship program, Oz Malik and Kate Cameron. We can’t wait to spend the rest of the year with Oz and Kate – keep your eyes peeled here for news about their work in the program – and we’re very grateful to all of the fantastic candidates that applied for this opportunity.
Oz Malik is an up and coming actor from Melbourne. The 24 year old University student has had a love for art and acting since he was young and has been involved in short films, theater shows and commercials. Oz is extremely passionate about creating positive change, accessibility and solidarity in the community for all. Oz volunteers as a youth mentor, public speaker and adviser. His goal in life is to combine these two passions of his. Oz is a lover of Rumi poetry, mindfulness, good music and cats.
“From this mentorship, I hope to build my knowledge and skills in acting. I want to further develop my craft and bring to life ideas I have. I also hope to incorporate what I learn into creating future programs and help facilitate art/acting classes for disadvantaged youth in my local community. I am looking forward to collaborating and working with Liv Satchell and taking advantage of her knowledge and absorb as much information as possible, as well as other artists. Most importantly the mentorship will provide me support and space to follow my dreams. “
Kate Cameron is a producer, director, and playwright based in Melbourne. She is a graduate of UOW’s Bachelor of Performance, ATYP’s Fresh Ink program, and NIDA’s Directing Actors for the Stage. Her company, The Kate Cameron Company, provides a producing service for original works by emerging artists in Melbourne and Sydney and has seen successful runs at Melbourne and Sydney Fringes, and presented at La Mama Theatre, The Butterfly Club, and Siteworks. Kate’s theatrical credits include Bedtime Stories for Girls (2019), Love Bird (2018), Foreign Woman (2018),The Last Five Years (2017), The Tempest (2017), Spring Awakening (2016), and Equus (2014). Her film credits include Fragmentary (2019), Too Pretty To Be Witty (2017), and The Daughter (2014).
“VIMH have such a strong history of supporting artists and new work and I am so excited to be joining that community as a mentee. I am looking forward to taking risks and finding new sources of inspiration to inform my practice and voice as an artist. VIMH has such a generous insight into the next level of theatre-making and a wealth of knowledge in work development that will be invaluable as a source of guidance in the next steps of my practice. “
the voice in my hands (VIMH) is launching a new mentorship program in 2019. VIMH is an independent Melbourne theatre company that makes bold original new work and provides frames of development for the new writing and performance community. VIMH commits to risk, rigour and care in every project it undertakes.
VIMH has previously run new writing development program dinner and a show, which explored the generative process of coming together over a shared meal and supported over 15 writers across a two-year period. Artistic Director Liv Satchell also co-founded Small and Loud, which is a monthly performance program run out of The Channel at Arts Centre Melbourne.
VIMH is now turning to a more concentrated and sustained version of this development support by working closely with two artists over an 8-month period (May – December 2019). This will be a dynamic program, tailored to the needs of each artist. This means that we (this is Liv here – hello) will have a conversation about what you want to achieve by the end of the year, and then we will build a structure together that will (fingers crossed) get you there.
Who is this for?
It’s for artists who might be interested in:
Community facilitation – how to create and hold space
The terrain of text-based theatre-making
Refining a project idea
A conversation series to specify your practice
What does VIMH want from you?
Creative development support (planned periods are June [TBC] and 21-26 October)
Tell me about yourself. Not a bio – what you care about and what you’re thinking about at the moment.
How would you describe your practice? (If your answer is ‘I don’t know’, tell me about a moment that you’ve been proud of when you were working creatively).
What do you want to get out of this 8-month mentorship?
These answers can be as long or short as you like, and in whatever medium you prefer. Please email them, and any questions you might have, to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 1 May, 5.00pm. Pending applications received, there may be a low-impact interview process before final selections are made.