An Australian university lecturer and playwright has written a play about her experiences hiking Spain's iconic Camino di Santiago.
Sarah Peters (33) walked over 1000km along the Camino di Santiago and other trails, and after returning began work on her play Blister. Sarah takes five with Great Walks.
Why did you want to walk the Camino de Santiago?
I had heard about the Camino many years ago, and at that time it seemed completely beyond something that I would ever be capable of doing. Then I heard about it again, and saw the film ‘The Way’, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The idea of going stuck in my mind, both as an amazing adventure and personal challenge, but also as a place where there would be people from all over the world with amazing stories that might make an interesting play.
I was walking with my sister one day when I said ‘I’ve got this idea about doing this big long walk in Spain, and writing a play about it’…and while I remember she was a little nervous for me, she also encouraged me and I thought ‘ok, maybe I can do this’. I was finishing a PhD on verbatim theatre at the time, where plays are based on the lived experience of a community (I had written a play as part of my PhB called bald heads & blue stars based on interviews with women who have Alopecia, a hair loss condition), so I thought that walking the Camino might be a great adventure after I submitted the thesis and was waiting for the examiners reports, as well as potentially being the basis of my next play.
What's the basic plot of the play?
The play follows the central protagonist, Rosie, as she walks the Camino. The audience meets the myriad of fellow pilgrims that Rosie encounters, but are also given an insight to the personal challenge of the walk for Rosie. Her thoughts are personified through the other two actors on stage, and this creates some fantastic opportunities for externally demonstrating how we internally wrestle with challenges, both physical and emotional.
How were you able to convey what you did and saw onto a small stage?
It has been a challenge! How do you convey the scope of walking 800km across a diverse landscape? Our approach has been to evoke a sense of the walk, rather than explicitly represent it. We’ve been able to work with a cellist who has composed music to underscore certain moments in the play, we have stylised movement sequences to echo the physical challenge of climbing uphill, and rather than show the grandeur of the landscape on stage for audiences to witness, we see the characters respond to what they are seeing and experience it through their eyes and the impression that the geography has on them.
Blister will play at Adelaide's Holden Street Theatres, 31 July - 3 August 2019. For more info click here.