It Happened on a Thursday
Renowned British playwright Bryony Lavery is collaborating with Adelaide’s Brink Productions on Thursday, which will have its world premiere in the Adelaide Festival.
The tragedy of the London bombings on July 7, 2005 have, paradoxically, proved to be a fertile ground for the performing and visual arts. Bryony Lavery remembers it well. “I was in London at the time,” she explains, “working at home, and my sister phoned me from the Tube station where she was heading to go into town. Told me there was a power failure or something. Then we heard about the attacks. It was a terrible time.”
It was her Australian connections that made the link with Brink director Chris Drummond, and the idea formed of a major new work themed around the experience of Adelaide-born Londoner Gill Hicks, who lost her legs in the bombing. She’d written about it in her moving memoir One Unknown. “As soon as we met I knew I could work with Chris,” Bryony says firmly, “he had a clear understanding of how my words could be put into action. That’s really hard for me. I’m a fiction writer, you see, so in a way it’s not real. But it feels very special to know that you’re sharing someone’s life.”
Fiction or not, Lavery has thrown herself into the collaborative process. “It’s a rare thing for a writer to work so intimately with a company that’s developing a work for the stage,” Bryony says, “and when you’re dealing with material as serious as this, it really gives you pause. Thursday entwines many peoples’ lives but some of those people are hard to take, like a murderer, or hard to cope with, like the mother of one of his victims. The ways in which people can be so cruel, or so wrong, but at the same time it openly explores our capacity for forgiveness and remorse and an ability to change after an act that you’d think would rule this out entirely."
Meeting Gill Hicks was another turning point. “She’s an astonishing person,” says Bryony, “and having met her set a special feel on the project, made it a lot more than an exercise in good intentions. It’s been a challenge getting her spirit into the piece.” Bryony pauses. “She was saved by someone who didn’t know her. It really is about the kindness of strangers. It’s been a journey into the spiritual and out again.”
Pictured: Bryony Lavery with director Chris Drummond. Photo: Suzie Jay
Thursday opens on 25 February at the Odeon Theatre, Norwood. Book at Bass.