THROUGH THE CRACKS – Leichhardt Town Hall September 1-3
A forensic investigation into an artists’ true tale of homelessness
“A very brave play… Thank you for shining a light on a dark issue.” – Yumi Lee, NSW Older Women’s Network
Elaine Paton stars in this thrilling, interactive, FREE immersive one-woman show, delving – with forensic detail – into the true-life disappearance of… herself.
4 performances only: 1-3 Sept Leichhardt Town Hall
Through the Cracks is a theatrical crime-style investigation that dives deep into issues of ageing, identity and homelessness, as Inspector Tilly leads an enquiry into the true-life disappearance of her alter ego, Elaine.
The audience enters the Incident Room to inspect Evidence Boards, pinned with various memorabilia of Elaine’s life, fragments connecting the archives of this Missing Person.Elaine Paton has disappeared and it’s Detective Myfwany Tilly’s job to find her.
Evidence in a storage unit, including diaries going right back to childhood, reveal an inner narrative of Elaine’s life that doesn’t quite match the outer events – and give clues to what has happened. With the help of her team (the audience) Tilly examines the twists and turns of Elaine’s life – linking film footage and projections with the diaries – to find her… and hopefully bring her back!
Both women are in their late sixties and Tilly, dragged out of obscurity to lead this investigation -and a bit out of shape – is a no-nonsense detective with a big Welsh heart.
She swears profusely, smokes like a chimney and grapples with modern political correctness.
As Tilly gets to know her team, she confides in them as her own life also starts to unravel – with unexpected curve balls hurled in her direction.
And when Tilly pops out the back for a smoke, Elaine appears, reading from her diaries and revealing how her life spiralled down into the depths of homelessness.
“I never thought I would join the ranks of homeless older women,” says Elaine. “But in 2018, I did.”
“Later, in 2020, in our first COVID lockdown, I moved into public housing.
Locked up in isolation, left with a pile of storage boxes containing my life, I opened them up and diaries, photos, letters, and other ‘evidence’ spilled out.
Looking at photos of my younger self, I asked ‘Who was that young woman, where has she gone?’
Pinning old black and white photos on large foam boards reminded me of crime dramas I had binge-watched.
The focus was always the Forensic Evidence Board, where detectives constructed the story of a life, getting to know the person intimately, to work out what made them tick.”
Using Elaine’s actual experiences, recorded in her journals, this immersive piece takes the form of a forensic investigation into “the disappearance of Elaine Paton”, led by DCI Tilly and her team: the audience.
“Older women are rarely represented in theatre. We are also the fastest growing cohort of homeless people, sleeping in cars… or worse. My story could be any women’s story, it just happens to be mine.”
In January 2022, Elaine developed the concept to a workshop performance at Sydney’s Rex Cramphorn studio, with Janys Hayes as collaborator and director.
Australian theatre legend Aarne Neeme saw it there and immediately fell in love with it, agreeing to direct this new season.
The pair worked together in 1980 at the Wayside Chapel Theatre, in David Edgar’s Mary Barnes – about recovering from mental illness.
Little did she know then that her life would be peppered with mental health catastrophes – both her own and her family’s.
They kept in touch over the years, with Aarne well aware of the turmoil that she endured in her life.
“The openness through which Elaine shares her story is potentially healing for her audience,” says Aarne.
“Depression through loss and homelessness, especially in women, is a notable concern in our times.
The enactment of it through theatre is a most powerful means of understanding and confronting the issue.”
Through the Cracks, written and performed by Elaine Paton, directed by Aarne Neeme with video artist Gail Kenning
Leichhardt Town Hall, Corner of Marion and Norton St, Leichhardt
Thurs 1 Sept 12noon; Fri 2 Sept 12noon & 8pm; Sat 3 Sept 2pm and 7.30pm
Tickets are FREE but bookings essential: https://events.humanitix.com/