ZIS’ autumn production of Steven Bogart’s drama Pigcat, directed by Una Mckay (’15) for her IB theatre personal project, had a unique reality to it that school plays rarely pull off. Bluer than Damselfish dressed as Brave Heart, the empathy and fear built around the characters left the audience in awe, and slightly disturbed.
Pigcat revolves around three central characters, Vic (played by Cullen Clancy, ’15), the mean-spirited drunkard, who is the father of teenager Bobby (Fillip Luedtke, ’17), who dreams of fixing up a motorcycle to leave his one horse town and move to California to pursue a career in the porn industry. Living with them is 12 year old Freddie (Alexandra Kyrpoglou, ’17), whose mother Jane (Crista Reed-Thomas, ’16), an ex-lover of Vic, seemingly abandoned Freddie more than a year previously.
Troubled by recurring daydreams (or more accurately, nightmares) of her mother coming to rescue her from the abusive Vic, Freddie retreats further into the sanctity of her imagination where she adopts the persona of Pigcat: a creature far stronger than she. Guided by the mysterious ringmaster known as the Willyboar, Freddie’s attempts to escape her brutal reality taking the play down increasingly dark and twisted paths.
The sunken stage puts the audience at eye level with the players, introducing an element of intimacy to the play which made the production feel almost as though the viewers were intruding into the private lives of a troubled household; though it did at times make the physical act of viewing the play somewhat difficult.
A student led production faces more nerves and seemingly more pressure, difficulties with play have no obvious solutions when you have to think them up yourself I asked backstage manager Samantha Jackson (’15) what the biggest challenges faced by the cast and crew in Pigcat were:
“Definitely time,” said Jackson. “We had to delay the start of rehearsals because of casting issues, so we didn’t get as long as we would have liked to practice. The sawdust [used covering the stage, giving the impression of a poor family’s front yard] was also an issue because it made a huge mess.” Jackson went on to tell me that the sawdust issues were handled with doormats at every exit, and the issue of time was solved with extra rehearsals at weekends and lunchtime.
Though tiring, the time put in appears to have been worth it, as the audience could really feel the anger of Vic, the fear of Freddie and Jane, and the desperation of Bobby as portrayed by our classmates and peers. Dedicated performances such as these reflects well on the state of the arts at ZIS and builds massive anticipation for ZIS’ next big production Alice, coming after the winter break.