Interview with Alice Malseed – It’s Getting Harder and Harder for Me – Dublin Fringe Festival
We had the chance to talk to writer Alice Malseed ahead of the opening of ‘It’s Getting Harder and Harder for Me’ in the Dublin Fringe Festival. It’s a play about three women in Belfast which stars Christiane O’Mahony, Emer Casey and Adele Gribbon
Boys School, Smock Alley Theatre – Sunday 10th- Sunday 17th
Sarah Baxter – Director/ Co-creator – Alice Malseed – Writer/Co-creator
What was the inspiration for the piece?
For a long time after moving back there, I really struggled to understand the city. It’s a place that seems quite stuck, in many ways. I was fascinated by the people, the sense of dullness that aches along and hangs in the air, the lonilness as well as the constant dialogue about ‘community’, by the ghosts of the past and history always being in the air, in the walls, in our bones. There’s so much frenetic energy. I love it.
This kid stopped me one Sunday morning on Lower Ormeau and asked me to phone his drug dealer and get him some weed. He said his girlfriend was in a really bad way, and he couldn’t phone the dealer himself. Stuff like that is pure magic for me as a writer, and it happens a lot here in Belfast. People are loud, boisterous, public. There are stories everywhere.
What is your connection to the Ormeau Road?
I lived on Ormeau Road for the past couple of years. I think people tout it as the most diverse area of Belfast. Everyone’s represented – students, Romas, yuppies, old people who’re Ormeau born and bred, business people with their massive jeeps, there’s mansions, social housing, Catholics, Protestants, the middle classes, all glittered with the ghosts of paramailitarism. The road is changing a lot, and I doubt there will there still be room for such diversity when the prices climb.
How long have you been working on this project?
I started writing at the start of 2016. Sarah and I did a couple of days development in Fringe Lab that Spring and then a rehearsed reading in Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
This is the story of three women in Belfast. Do you think these stories are lost or overlooked?
It’s hard for me to know that because the way I work, and write, and view the city, is with my eyes and ears open to stories like this. I think a lot of things they talk about – depression, party drug use, loneliness, trauma, menopause, and (heavily) the use of Diazapam and other perscription tranquilizer drugs, is still really taboo. But it’s everywhere. You can’t walk through certain areas of Belfast or Dublin without seeing discarded empty packets of these drugs on the ground. It’s an epidemic. And I’m not surprised. There’s a line in the play ‘we are all in trauma, it’s obvious, our rollercoasters have crashed’. I think this is symbolic of how many people live. Life is hard, and chaotic, and fractured for many people all the time and for some people, some of the time. No wonder some people want to escape from it through perscription drugs. But I don’t think people are talking about this, or are allowed to talk about it enough.
Also, I think we always need more women’s stories on stage.
This is the second collaboration between you (Alice and Sarah). Alice as the writer and Sarah as the director, but are you both involved on a day to day basis? Are your roles so clearly defined?
In terms of creating the script, the roles have some overlap. Sarah is like a sculptor for the writing. She is an excellent dramaturg. I’ve written the script but by all means, because of her input into structure and shape, Sarah is co-creator.
I pop into rehearsals but generally all direction comes from Sarah. She’s excellent at directing too of course!
And, we are both co-producing. It’s a full on process and we are both involved in all aspects.
Any other tips for the Fringe? What would you recommend?