Singing My Sister Down – the play

Margo Lanagan is a great spec fic writer from Sydney. She’s incredibly talented and quite justifiably well recognised for her work. Recently you may remember me talking about her novella Sea Hearts in the X6 Novellanthology from Coeur De Lion. Her latest novel is Tender Morsels, published by Allen & Unwin in Australia, Knopf in the US and David Fickling Books and Jonathan Cape in the UK. And that’s just a small cross-section of her work.

Anyway, one of her short stories that she’s perhaps most famous for, arguably the story that put her on the map, is an incredibly poignant yarn called Singing My Sister Down. In many ways this story breaks all the “rules” of short story writing, but it goes to show how extreme talent can prove that rules are just for us mere mortals. I remember reading the story and being totally blown away by it. It still resonates with me to this day, which is the sign of one of those rare masterpieces in storytelling.

Now Singing My Sister Down is set to be retold in a live production by the Sydney University Dramatic Society. I have no idea how they’ll pull this off, but if they make a good job of it we’re in for some awesome theatre.

Here are the details:

Wed–Sat, 11th–21st August, 8pm.
Cellar Theatre, under the Holme Building, Science Road, Sydney University.
Admission: $2/3/4/5.

‘In the winter you come to the pit to warm your feet in the tar. You stand long enough to sink as far as your ankles—the littler you are, the longer you can stand…but in summer, like this day, you keep away from the tar, because it makes the air hotter and you mind about the stink.’

Ik’s got to go down, and everybody’s got to see her go. The family party in the tar, feasting and singing despite the shame. But as the sun goes down and the young girl disappears in front of us, we observe an unnaturally slow execution, and watch a family lose someone before they are gone.

Adapted and directed by Eleni Schumacher and Stephen Sharpe, and the company. Produced by Ellana Costa.

If you’re in Sydney, or you can get to Sydney, give this a go and I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. I really hope I can get up for it. I’ll review it here if I do.

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8 thoughts on “Singing My Sister Down – the play

  1. Good question. Having already read the story I can’t imagine it the other way. I would actually recommend reading the story first.

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