Q&A: Playwright Melanie Tait, A BROADCAST COUP
Get excited because next week we welcome the amazing team from Melanie Tait’s new Australian comedy A BROADCAST COUP back into the rehearsal room! Hilarious and hard-hitting, we asked Melanie a few questions about her new play, the inspiration behind it and some of the things she’s learned so far.
Tell us a bit about the story of A BROADCAST COUP
A BROADCAST COUP tells the story of the end of a great media career, and the changing landscapes of the workplace, media and the office romance.
What inspired you to write it?
There were a couple of things: I wanted my follow up play to THE APPLETON LADIES’ POTATO RACE to be a story I felt I had to tell as urgently – of a world I knew and a problem within it I’d like to see discussed and possibly fixed. The other was that I’d long been obsessed with the movie ALL ABOUT EVE, and I wanted to write about the passing of the baton from one generation to the next and how this is never smooth sailing.
How has your work in the media industry helped shaped this story?
Obviously, A BROADCAST COUP is set in a public broadcaster that’s a lot like the ABC, where I worked for 12 years. I’ve also worked in commercial media, so have seen the media operate in all its many facets. I love the ABC, so this play is in no way me setting fire to the ABC, but I thought from a story point of view it was so much more complex to place this story within an ABC-like organisation – the ‘goodies’, if you like. It would have been so easy to make Mike King a right wing talkback king – to place him in an arena we could easily demonise him. Instead, I wanted him to be full of contradictions – a bully who cares about social justice, a champagne socialist with a house in Darling Point, a feminist who sees no problem having affairs with his junior colleagues. By placing him in an ABC-like organisation there’s more grey to work with, and that’s much more interesting theatrically to me – as a playwright and an audience member.
Did you learn anything in the development process of THE APPLETON LADIES’ POTATO RACE that has been helpful when writing A BROADCAST COUP?
THE APPLETON LADIES’ POTATO RACE was the most beautiful experience of my life. What it taught me is that I have to keep writing, and then once the writing is done, keep editing. We had a week’s development with both plays, but for A BROADCAST COUP, Director Priscilla Jackman and I decided to spread that development over about six months and it was hugely helpful.
Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue play writing?
Write, write, write. I’ve written in all sorts of medium and none give me the joy and satisfaction that writing plays does. To experience your writing with an audience who are getting what you’re trying to do is about the best drug there is.