Not All A Dream: A Coffee With Grace Chapple

In case you haven’t noticed, Fringe World 2018 is in full swing, and the line up of talent seems to get better every year. Fortunately I managed to have a quick coffee with the young and extremely talented writer, Grace Chapple to get the scoop on her latest work “Not All A Dream”.

The story dates back to 1816 when 18 year old Mary Shelley goes on a holiday with Romantic poet, Percy Shelley to visit the infamous Lord Byron at Lake Geneva. During their stay the weather proved so bad that they were confined to the house for days. Seeking entertainment, it was decided they each write out ghost stories and compete against one another to come up with the most spine-chilling, hair-raisingly terrifying tale. 

Presented by Brushstroke productions, the WA base theatre group has a coterie of local beginner and experienced creatives on board bringing new and unique performances to Perth. Not All A Dream is playing over two weekends in February and I highly recommend you check it out.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us in a nutshell what this play is about?

Not All A Dream is based around the central character – Mary Shelley, who was the author of Frankenstein. It’s a play that looks at how she came up with the story of Frankenstein.

And how did you come up with the idea?

I actually read about it in Andrew Bovell’s play When The Rain Stops Falling. One of the main characters mentions this particular story, and that’s how my idea was formed.

Did it take you long to write up the script?

Well I came up with the idea in one day, and wrote about half the script in that same day. I just couldn’t stop until I knew what was going to happen with these characters. It’s an incredible story. I was lucky to stumble upon it.

Do you have a favourite character in the play?

The most fun character is definitely Lord Byron. He’s a real classic. There’s kind of that joy that he’ll just say anything, which I think is a beautiful thing to watch on stage. But I think the audience will favour Mary Shelley the most. Besides the fact that we’re seeing it from her point of view, she’s got that ‘weight on her shoulders’ thing going on. And she is, after all, the ultimate victor of the story.

So can we expect a happy ending?

Spoiler alert: none of the characters lives have happy endings… but we’ve tried to end our story with a little hope. There’s definitely something to be said about the price of great art and the toll that it took on their lives.

Where did the title “Not all a dream” come from?

It’s from the first line of a poem by Lord Byron called Darkness. He wrote this poem in the year that the play is set, and it’s essentially about the inclement weather and how it all seemed ‘not quite real’.

And it’s set in Lake Geneva, so how will that work for the location of the show?

Well I’d always imagined this play would take place in a traditional theatre space, just because that’s where most shows do. So initially I was looking for something like that, and I happened to come across Lake Nenia in Mundaring. It’s a boutique events venue in Mundaring, and it just so happened that they wanted to be involved in the fringe festival. It’s this beautiful naturalist Australian landscape with a natural lake in the middle of it. To be able to create viscerally for the audience the atmosphere and the setting, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Being set on a lake, what can we expect for the set designs?

We have a very talented set designer, Reinette Roux, she has worked really cleverly with the scripts to create a set that compliments what we’re trying to say and what’s going on with the characters, and what the story really is. While it’s very simple, it will really bring the emotional landscape to life. The set itself is very soft and Romantic. It’s beautiful.

And what about the audio?

Well, fortunately the stage is really acoustic friendly, so all the actors will be able to be heard. But the music is what will really make the play. We have a really great sound designer, it’s actually my brother, Ronan Chapple. He’s created a piano score with atmospheric background music that will be played over a PA system. It will create this kind of eerie atmosphere, almost echo-like. We’ve rehearsed in the space a few times and I can promise it’s going to be amazing.

Speaking of rehearsals… how do you manage to keep the cast entertained?

Luckily that’s not my job, it’s the directors. But we do this fun thing where every rehearsal it’s somebody’s turn to bring a packet of biscuits, and then we have to rate them accordingly.

And what’s number 1 so far?

It’s actually the one I brought, so i’m super stoked about that. But you’ll have to check out our Instagram page to find out.

How do we get tickets to the show?

They’re available on Fringeworld’s website, and so far we’re at about halfway sold out, so I’d recommend getting onto them pretty fast!

Not All A Dream will be playing on the 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th of February 2018. 

2225 Martin Road, Mundaring. For more event details check out their Facebook page. 


Image Credit: Bruno Kongawoin

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