Joanna Alpern’s newest play, Wolf Whistle, is being directed by Katherine Weight and brought to the stage this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (the 7th-9th of February). Centring upon three women visiting the same medical practice on the same day, the play examines the unseen relationships between seemingly separate lives.

Joanna, what brought you to write this show?

Joanna: Essentially I just got the concept of three women, of different ages and different walks of life, in a clinic at the same time with the same problem: their periods have stopped. I then thought about how this disruption to a menstrual cycle might bring about disruptions to the cycles of their everyday life, and lead these cycles to be questioned.

Has your approach differed from when you wrote A Rattle of Keys? (another of Alpern’s plays which went up last semester. Read a selected portion of the script and a review of the performance, both published by The Tribe, here.)

Joanna: Wolf Whistle is more comedic and it is also in monologue form, which meant my approach had to be substantially different. It was more like writing three linking short stories with unreliable, often delusional, narrators. So, the drama and conflict of the piece had to lie within the characters rather than between them. The women of Wolf Whistle certainly know less about themselves than their audience do, which I hope will create an interesting viewing experience.

Katherine, how are you approaching Joanna’s script stylistically?

Katherine:  Three intertwining monologues is a lovely structure for a play but fairly challenging for a director. The characters never directly interact with one another and never leave their third of the stage. I’ve tried to keep it visually interesting without it being too staged. I’ve played around with the characters’ timeline: sometimes they’re retelling a past event, sometimes they’re living it, and sometimes it is somewhere in-between. Likewise, at points they refer to other characters and at others they embody them. The rehearsal process has been short and intense (about two weeks); although we’ve hit the odd bump in the road, I think it’s needed for this sort of play. We’ve been doing a lot of character work in and out of rehearsals to insure the characters are rounded and not overwhelmed by certain features.

How would you describe the tone of the play?

Fay [who plays one of the women]: The tone really wavers throughout the play. You get huge peaks and troughs of emotion between the three characters.

Katherine: I agree, the tone changes quite rapidly within the characters monologues, and as the focus switches between them.

What is it like acting in a show that is comprised of several monologues? How have you worked together as a cast?

Cate [who plays one of the women]:  It’s been a really interesting and challenging show to work on, especially with it being very intensive. Working on what are essentially monologues as an entire piece has been quite demanding, but we’ve been very supportive of each other, which makes the whole experience much more productive and rewarding!

Fay: We weren’t really given a choice. We were thrown together for rehearsals and never allowed to leave each other’s sights. When we weren’t rehearsing, we were eating or watching 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Cara [who plays one of the women]: As a monologue play, this is an entirely different experience from anything I’ve done before. Although quite isolating, the intertwining lines and allusions to past interactions —with those both on and offstage— allow for comforting moments of [the type of] interaction we’re used to. We’ve certainly been stretched, and having the three of us working through this entirely new experience simultaneously has been so helpful as well as simply fun.

Why should St Andrews students see Wolf Whistle?

Katherine: Although the characters have distinguishing features, they could easily be real people you pass by on the street —and who doesn’t wonder about the lives of strangers?

Cara: Whether we admit it or not, everyone wants to know what people are thinking in waiting rooms.

Wolf Whistle goes up in the Barron Theatre from 7:30-9:00pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (7th-9th February). Check out the Facebook event here


Lachlan Robertson


Photo credits: Mathilde Johnsen