Arts / Lindy ‘meets’ Courtney on the Federal Highway

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Heidi Silberman, left, as Lindy Chamberlain and Emma McManus, as Courtney. Photo by Andrew Sikorski

THE “what if” scenario is one of the mainstays of contemporary western theatre.

Epitomised in the 2013 Las Vegas show “Barbra [Streisand] and Frank [Sinatra] – The Concert that Never Was”, it proves the perfect vehicle for the kind of speculative theatre that we’ll see in a new play staged as part of the Ralph Indie season by Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres.

“Love/Chamberlain” is billed as a “hyper-real fantasy portrayal of Courtney Love and Lindy Chamberlain” and shows the pair crossing paths on the Federal Highway at midnight on their way to consult an oracle.

It sounds weird, but then again, as veteran director Cathy Hunt explains to “CityNews”, that strangeness and sense of an impossible encounter is exactly the surreal effect that she and playwright Bridget Mackey were after, much in the manner of Hollywood director David Lynch, the creator of “Twin Peaks”.

“Letters to Lindy” was at The Playhouse last year offering a glimpse of the notorious story of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, whose baby daughter Azaria was taken by a dingo at Uluru. When Lindy came here to see Alana Valentine’s play many audience members wouldn’t applaud her.

Playwright  Bridget Mackey, left, and director Cathy Hunt.

“About this time last year Bridget and I met and she told me about her idea,” Hunt says.

“She comes at it from a child-of-the-’90s point of view, a different perspective from me… Bridget is interested in a David Lynch type of strangeness and what could be stranger than Courtney Love and Lindy Chamberlain getting together?”

Courtney Love, of course, is the American singer, songwriter, actress, and visual artist reviled for her marriage to the late singer Kurt Cobain, in whose death rumour implicated her.

Hunt and Mackey decided that a hypothetical meeting was “a fascinating idea… together we researched the several times of their lives when their lives intersected.”

Hunt explains. Lindy was born in NZ; Courtney was sent there to a boarding school. During the 1990s, Lindy Chamberlain married Rick Creighton and they lived in Seattle. Kurt and Courtney came with Nirvana to Canberra in 1992, a gig attended by cast member barb barnett. In 1992, they rented and lived in a house in Seattle, where he died.

“We’re taking them to some of the places where they could have crossed paths,” Hunt says, “possibly NZ or Seattle or Canberra… it’s a fantastical meeting, a way of showing what would happen if they spoke to each other, it’s impossible, but if they could speak in a dramatic space, this might be what happens… that’s where it is like ‘Twin Peaks’.”

“It was quite complicated, fitting in the research based on timelines and rejigging the order.

“The David Lynch-type idea is that we live in a shadowy, twilight world where things can happen, like meeting someone in a pub or on a highway where something strange can happen… we see what happens to you when you’re out of your comfort zone, like Thelma and Louise going on a journey.

“It’s meant to be dislocating, but I like to think it shows how compassion can be reached with a total stranger,” she concludes.

“Love/ Chamberlain,” Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre, November 7 (preview) to November 12, Bookings to or tickets at door.



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Helen Musa
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