In Praise of PLAYLIST—Where Women’s Stories Rise

By James Gardiner

PYT Fairfield’s PLAYLIST is a poignant and powerful reflection on feminisms in pop culture. Structured as a series of conversations around what it’s like to grow up as women, the performance delves into the ways that different systems of oppression can compound the pressures and disadvantages that women experience, as well as the moments that music has shaped their sense of identity and provided rushes of relief, humour and connection.

The performance shows incredible breadth, undulating between honest and intimate reflection on identity-based struggle, unashamed celebration of personal and cultural triumph, and exceptional comic timing. In a similar vein, the work shifts seamlessly between dialogue, dance and musical interludes. The tightness with which this is achieved is a fantastic symbol for the cohesion and solidarity that exists between the cast.

Director Karen Therese points out in the Director’s Notes that when collaborating to bring the piece to life, the crew had a few rules: no talking about men, and no putting each other down, men or women. The crew sat together for up to two hours every morning, creating a decolonised space with shared languages, listening and exchange. All of the show’s dialogue came from this collaborative process.

It is rare to see so clearly the trust that performers place in each other. This work showcases examples of sharing and learning, proving that the cast is at its most powerful when united and determined to lift each other up.

PLAYLIST is a highly skilled example of art created from the inside out, platforming personal stories that are frequently suppressed or guided toward silence. If you missed out on seeing the run of performances in August, be sure to catch it at the Sydney Opera House from May 14-16 in 2019.

Keep your ears to the ground for future work from Ebube Uba, Mara Knezevic, May Tran, Tasha O’Brien & Neda Taha—a gripping cast with important stories to tell.