Origin of the species not just an urban myth

Evolution, feminism and comedy come together in the two woman play Origin of the Species directed by Hannah Fallowfield and presented by Urban Myth Theatre Company.

On New Year’s eve, English anthropologist Molly Starkey discovers a completely preserved female body in Olduvai Gorge.

Upon kissing her lips, the four million year old woman comes to life, and is smuggled back to England and named Victoria, after Molly’s grandmother.

Once in possession of this anthropological miracle, Molly seeks to teach Victoria what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century, and incidentally gains much more than she expected.

Bill's Bar at The Goodwood Institute
Bill’s Bar at The Goodwood Institute

Playing at Bill’s Bar (166a Goodwood Road) on 24th until 26th of July at 7.30pm, the 1984 play by playwright Bryony Lavery was ahead of its time with its strong feminist themes.

Director Hannah Fallowfield said she revolves rehearsal discussions around feminist debate and she is very proud of the outcome.

“Bryony Lavery is a truly great feminist writer because she is subtle and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you are being beaten across the head with someone else’s morals. Lavery invites you into her world and says, ‘look around, look how science and history have been written by the dominators – men, do we think that’s right?’”

“During rehearsals we talked a lot about how women are pigeonholed into certain roles. We talked about Julia Gillard, Hillary Clinton, Thatcher, our mothers and grandmothers, sisters, aunties, as well as the men in our lives and it certainly created a lot of debate,” she said.

Fallowfield has been an active member in Urban Myth, Adelaide’s highly regarded and acclaimed theatre company for youths, for four years.

Book your tickets soon as seats are limited.
Book your tickets soon as seats are limited.

Her work with Origin of the Species is her third directorial stint but certainly not her last as she quickly makes a name for herself in Adelaide’s arts scene.

“I’ve been with Urban Myth for four years; three with the Senior Ensemble. I participated in a few productions as an actor and then an opportunity came up to direct a play a good friend of mine had written. As soon as I started rehearsals I knew that I had found what I really loved to do,” she said.

Gemma Neall as Molly
Gemma Neall plays English anthropologist Molly Starkey

Origin of the Species is a two-hander; the part of Molly is played by Gemma Neall and Victoria by Jamila Main.

Fallowfield said she is enjoying the depth of creative exploration and intimacy that a two person cast can provide.

“There’s something really wonderful about working so intimately with actors. With a two-hander there’s much more room to delve deep into the heart of the play,” she said.

Jamila Main plays four million year old Victoria
Jamila Main plays four million year old Victoria

“It is interesting working with two women because there is definitely a different energy in the rehearsal room compared to the productions I’ve worked on that also involve men. It’s not better or worse, but it is definitely different.”

Origin of the Species looks to be an intelligent and fascinating production and, as Fallowfield said, incredibly funny.

“I think this is a really thought provoking show, mainly due to its challenging of androcentric assumptions, but I think sometimes when you tell people you are doing a ‘feminist’ play, they switch off, or think it is going to be something quite intense and challenging,” she said.

“It’s also incredibly funny. Lavery has a wonderful sense of humour and the relationship between Molly and Victoria is hilarious and really lovely. I also think holding the play in such an intimate venue will be a wonderful experience for both the audience and the actors.”

Part of Fallowfield’s directorial concept was based around an article she found about a 2,600 year old body that was discovered with a spear and was therefore assumed to be a male but bone analysis later found it was actually a woman.

Concerned that these androcentric assumptions occur more often than they should, Fallowfield has channelled her views into Origin of the Species.

Tickets are available through Urban Myth Theatre of Youth but book soon because seating is limited due to the intimate venue.

Director, Hannah Fallowfield
Director, Hannah Fallowfield

Hannah Fallowfield has also directed ‘There’s Nothing Compassionate About Dogs’ (Patrick Zoerner) in the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival, ‘(finger)prints’ (Chloe Eckert) in the 2014 Fringe.

She is the Assistant Director for Glenn Hayden (Artistic Director of Urban Myth) on their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet.


Performances are:

24th, 25th and 26th of July @ 7.30pm
All tickets $10
Bookings essential

Story by Libby Parker

Photos of the Goodwood Institute from Urban Myth Theatre Company website

Promotional poster and cast photos courtesy of Production Manager, Emma Kew