Grace Barnes on Zander's Boat

“Zander’s Boat is a play about isolation.  The physical isolation which is an inevitable part of living in Shetland, and the emotional isolation experienced by all three women.  Why, for example, is each character alone throughout the play?  Each of the three women is in a marriage where silence and secrets prevail, and the stories they tell are a direct result of this.  Each woman, in her own way, feels completely alone.  This is compounded by living in a remote, patriarchal community where people are expected to behave in a certain way, and I was interested in exploring how this overtly masculine culture particularly affected women.  But we also hear of the effect of this culture on Zander, a boy who was out of step with the prevailing attitudes towards gender. 

I wanted to explore attitudes towards motherhood and how these three women have very different experiences.  Marie, for example, does not want to have children and is acutely aware that this marks her as strange, deviant even, within the community.  Sylvia wants to be a mother but only in order to save her marriage.  And Edith’s experience of motherhood has not been positive.  I wanted to challenge the view that women are ‘natural’ carers, and that motherhood is a natural state for women and a universally positive experience. 

I deliberately made the three women twenty years apart in age.  They are all at a different stage in their lives and we should be able to see the potential in Sylvia to turn into the embittered Edith.  Marie is the most self aware, but it is Edith who ultimately offers hope by acknowledging the past mistakes and seeing a way forward.  It is a play about hope and renewal, and the sense that, as Sylvia says, we’ll survive. All three of us, in our own way is the heart of the play.”—Grace Barnes

Don’t miss the Australian premiere of Zanders Boat by Grace Barnes. 22 Oct - 3 Nov, at Q44 Theatre.