Established in 1996 inside our very own doors, Vena Cava Productions is a QUT student-driven, not-for-profit theatre company. Vena Cava produces the annual multi-disciplinary theatre and arts festival, Freshblood. The 2023 festival took place at PIP Theatre from 10–20th August.
This week, Maddi had a chat with Jackson Fryer, a fellow QUT creative writing student, who produced his own show for Freshblood festival.
Congratulations on your production in this year’s Freshblood Festival! How are you feeling, post-show?
Thank you so much! It’s very mixed emotions when any kind of production comes to its close. One part of me is feeling so relieved that the crew’s hard work has paid off, and another part of me is sad that it’s over (for now) because you build such a close bond with everyone.
Creating anything like this takes up a huge space in your mind, so when it’s over, it’s a really odd feeling. The other part of me can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
What advice would you give students who want to apply for Freshblood Festival 2024?
MAKE SURE YOUR SHOW FITS AN HOUR RUNTIME!
There is nothing worse than having to cut it down to fit time.
No, I’m joking. I think my best advice would be to always remain open-minded from all aspects. When writing/creating your piece, be open-minded and make what YOU want to see. When working with actors/collaborators, listen to their ideas and build off them. What you produce can be so different to the original concept!
What is the main premise for the show you wrote and directed?
My show, The Hills Run Red, is a gothic psychological horror play taking place in the 1600s amid the Salem witch trials but here portrayed through the fictional town of Dulewood Hollow. The play concerns the Chilvers Family who, following a series of unexplained tragedies, become the subjects of the town, spreading paranoia and fear of witchcraft. The focus, however, is what happens when that paranoia infests the family itself.
I understand it is one thing to write a story on the page and a whole other to bring it to life on stage. What do you find most difficult about this translation process?
The most difficult part is trying to stay realistic. When you get really into the writing process your brain gives you so many brilliant visuals. These visuals are great as they help you write the story. The problem is understanding that what your brain comes up with isn’t always physically possible to do on stage (particularly with a budget), so ensuring that you stay realistic is the key.
How do you find the process of writing and developing a script compared to a novel?
As somebody who just had the epiphany that they prefer scriptwriting to being an author, I find the process much easier. Theatre and film are both very visual art forms, so if you can see it all playing in your head as you write, you don’t have to worry about describing every minor detail.
Do you have any plans for post-university life? Is working in theatre something that you want to continue pursuing?
Well, I’ve started up my own production company, Double Take Productions (you can find it on Instagram as @doubletakeproductionsco) and my goal is to continue producing horror/thriller theatre, before hopefully making a transition into filmmaking! But, like all uni students, full-time work is probably what I’ll be doing to start off with until the company really picks up steam!
What’s on your reading list at the moment?
I read like a million things at once but what has currently grabbed and held my attention the longest is We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s a great piece of gothic fiction that I think is a MUST read!
To finish off our chat, who or what inspires your work the most?
I’m always taking inspiration from heaps of people, so it’s hard to pick. In writing, Gillian Flynn has always been my number one go-to. Her novels and scripts are both so brilliantly written and paint such a gorgeous visual picture with very little.
The works of Ari Aster have always been a huge influence, particularly his screenplay for Hereditary and Midsommar. They’re probably my main inspirations.
In my actual life though, everyone who constantly supports my ideas and encourages me to produce whatever my brain can manifest.
Interviewer: Maddi Clarke is an emerging Brisbane-based writer and singer-songwriter studying creative writing at QUT. Through her storytelling and songwriting, she hopes to connect with others by exploring and echoing the human experience. She is also passionate about weaving fantastical tales and building secondary worlds that reflect and critique elements of our own.
Editors: Suzy Darlington