Speaking on a Rainy Day and Monday:
Megan Petrie in Close to You

Posted on 05 September 2011

I feel we should be sitting inside an old police box. Your show involves a fair amount of time travel between your childhood and present living arrangements. This is held together by The Carpenters‘s Song “Close to You”. Sounds like a longshot.

So how do “birds suddenly appearing” make it possible to discuss your domestic life?

Megan: Recently I ran into a childhood friend who said, “All I remember from your house is that song ‘why do birds suddenly appear’ and your mum vacuuming.” My mum spoke to the house budgie more civilly and openly than I’ve ever heard her talk to a human. Often she would use the budgie as a behavioural role model for us kids. I knew I could never compete. I hated Trill.

My Nana spent all her days in a kitchen, alone, making jam and gruffing affectionately at a bunch of pigeons out her window. My Nana hated most people. But loved those filthy birds.

The Carpenters were always playing in these two houses. As a result I have had the song “Close To You” on repeat in my head my whole life.

If we step into your police box we can visit my recent share houses – where we find people who seem to have had their wings clipped and spend their days cooped up, not leaving the house for hatred of mankind, following vampire actors on Twitter, waiting for 2012 to end it all, managing sim families, competing to be the most spiritual, stealing my food, and doing the downward dog in front of a TV that constantly plays Nip n Tuck. Phew!

I hold my life’s theme song “Close To You” responsible for all the above events. Guess you’ll have to come see the show to see why.

Do you find the humour you ferret out of difficult situations helps you to cope? Or perhaps at least gets it out of your head?

Megan: You could look at it and say I was born into a difficult situation and chose comedy as a coping mechanism.

But my whole life has been spent attracting odd situations and characters. I love it!

Sometimes I meet people, then I will be going about life when suddenly they have taken over my entire psyche. I feel their facial expressions, their voice, their movement. In order to get them out, I must BE them or write a show about them.

Perhaps this is just an extreme way of finding empathy for people.

I always wonder how humour about family or people to whom you are close affects those relationships. What sort of impact has it had for you?

Megan: I spent my childhood imitating my mum when we had visitors. My mum would laugh heartily and then once everyone had gone home, she would ground me for it.

My Nana can’t complain coz she’s dead. Honestly – my Nana wouldn’t love nor hate to know she’s made it to the stage. She’d just say “Oh yeah” and tell me what Bruce and Phillip said the other night. She is a character who is always in me. My absolute favorite.

The rest I just block on Facebook. LOL ‘n’ such.

You seem to enjoy character comedy. Do you feel that you can say more when you are playing someone other than yourself?

Megan: I feel I can express things about life that I don’t nessassarily feel/relate to, and present different ideals and belief systems which aren’t my own. When I am exploring a concept/person I like to explore it every way possible. Characters are the best vehicles for this.

Do you actually like The Carpenters? What do you particularly like or dislike about their music?

Megan: When I was growing up I felt morbidly depressed listening to song lyrics such as “there’s nothing to do but frown” and “no one even cares if I should live or die” etc. It was certainly a strange soundtrack to live my childhood to.

For this show I have accidently made myself into a closet obsessed fan! I have been walking around with Karen on my iPod feeling empowered, then close to tears, and then like laughing ridiculously. There is something very magically emotional and epic about their songs and yet quite awful. I have fallen into a love/hate relationship and there is simply no middle ground.

Karen’s voice and lyrics are loaded with loneliness which is no suprise, if you consider her life and demise. They are the perfect soundtrack for the events that take place in my show.

When so many comedians rely on guitars and keyboards, it’s awesome you’ve been able to collaborate with a drummer. Could you tell me a little about Dan Violato: how you joined forces, how she enhances the show?

Megan: Dan and I joined forces in the forces of love. She has been drumming for a wee while, this will be her debut show.

For this show I wanted a raw/organic soundtrack that was happening in front of the audience. I wanted to create a sense of immediacy, and so Dan will be shaking, banging, and scratching all sorts of things to make this happen. Also I felt it would be cool to have a female drummer – in honour of Karen starting her career as a female drummer. This was less common in her time.

Are we getting any of your poetry in this show?

Megan: There is still a chance that I’ll connect with the wanna be rapper inside and write a tribute to Karen.

And the surreal question of the interview: which would you rather be and why – a chocolate donut lightly sprinkled with cat fur or a piece of duck tape?

Megan: Cat fur stuck to duck tape stuck to the donut – to make people wonder.

Where and when can we see you at the Melbourne Fringe Festival?

Cape Live Upstairs
Corner Brunswick & Johnston Street, Fitzroy
8:30pm 29th-30th September, 1st-2nd October, 6th-8th October
Tickets at door or from Melbourne Fringe.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

PS: I like doing interviews, because I can then sit back and enjoy a show without worrying about what I am going to say in review. However after seeing it, I must say, Meg’s show Close to You is a delight and deserves a few extra words. She projects charm, warmth, and authenticity. Her character portrayals of family and housemates are laugh out loud funny and memorable. I enjoy her use of props, such as the squeaky toy meat. She’s still a developing artist, and I see a bright future for her work.


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