On Now: The Association by Girls Act Good

Theatre company Girls Act Good is back with a new project. 

Drawing inspiration from Frankenstein, The Stepford Wives and the Country Women’s Association, The Association is set in a secret women’s meeting where newcomer Joanne quickly learns the members are doing more than charitable deeds and swapping recipes, when a horrifying experiment is revealed.

Building on what Girls Act Good have created over the past three years, they will be taking over the unique venue Number 64, for a four-week residency from mid-July for their most challenging and exciting project to date.

Beginning with a two-week season of an immersive theatre experience, they will then re-work the piece, in the same location, to create a low budget, festival-ready feature film.

Scribble Creative’s Nicole McKenzie spoke with director Lee McLenaghan.

NM: This is your first time directing, how is it different from your normal acting role and what have been some highlights in this new position?

LM: As an actor, I know what my personal process is and how to jump in head first, but as a first-time director I was a bit bamboozled as to where to start. So I came back to what I respected from directors I had worked with in the past—I am very conscience of people’s time and wanting to get the best out of them so I went from there.

From the first rehearsal I was addicted! I know I have had an easier way in as we have mostly all worked together before, but finding new levels in people you already know is fascinating! Feeding in little side notes and watching things take a completely different path is so much damn fun!

Can you talk a little bit about Girls Act Good and your involvement?

I was lucky enough to be taken to a Girls Act Good monthly reading by one of the original members, Sarah Plummer, in 2014, and from then I have been involved in all of the productions, mainly as an actor but also as a dance choreographer, assistant director, producer and now director. That’s the terrific thing about what Jennifer Monk has created with Girls Act Good, within the group we all call on each other’s area of expertise to get things done and learn off each other in the process.

This performance is unique in many ways, one being that after its two week season it is being made into a film. How are you feeling about the theatre to film process? What sparked the idea?

I can take absolutely no credit for the idea of The Association. This is a project that Jennifer Monk and Perri Cummings have been developing for well over a year now. I do know that when it first came to fruition there were discussions as to which it should be: theatre or film. So why not both?

I have pretty much separated it into two separate projects. Some of the cast differ from the theatre performance to the film, bringing their own different flavour to their character, and with much more backstory in the film version I am treating each piece as its own entity to (hopefully!) do them both justice.

The Association is described as an ‘immersive theatre experience’. Can you give audience members any hints as to what they could expect?  

Attendees should come in with an open mind and be ready to get involved with these women and their stories. They are selective with who they let into their inner circle so follow their lead and be willing to participate and explore. You might just learn a few things.

What do you do when you are not being creative as an actor, producer and director with Girls Act Good?

When I am not wearing those hats with Girls Act Good, I am wearing them alongside Kerry Drumm and Rowan Howard at Choo Choo Productions, that we set up last year. Outside of that, each year around May you can find me driving across the country in aid of the Cancer Council as part of the Shitbox Rally, and I am also studying fitness and working as an instructor.

More about Lee’s work