Playwright and performer Emma Gibson is now based in Canberra, but grew up in Kiewa and completed high school in Wodonga. Working on the script for 'The Pyjama Girl' has brought Emma back home many times over the past 18 months.
She began developing the script when she was awarded a JUMP Mentorship from the Australia Council in 2012. This allowed Emma to work with a mentor who was experienced in verbatim, or documentary-style theatre. Throughout subsequent creative developments with HotHouse Theatre, the style of play has changed significantly, and is now framed in vaudeville, but the resulting play still draws strongly on research, including interviews Emma conducted with members of the local community who had a connection or memory of the Pyjama Girl case.
The Pyjama Girl was a murdered woman found concealed by the road to Howlong, about eight kilometres out of Albury. The case captured the attention of Australian media as the beautiful woman couldn't be identified. The body was preserved in a formalin solution for 10 years at the Sydney Anatomy School.
Emma's previous productions include 'Love Cupboard', produced in Canberra in 2009 and 2010; and 'Widowbird', produced by the Street Theatre in 2012. 'Widowbird' was also performed in Stockholm at the Women Playwrights International Conference in Stockholm.
At the start of this year, Emma was commissioned to write and perform a monologue series, 'Dead Beauty Queens' for the You Are Here festival in Canberra. One of the monologues is performed in a car to audiences of just four people at a time, which reflects Emma's interest in experimenting with non-traditional theatre spaces. This piece toured to Newcastle (This is Not Art Festival).
Emma's work has also been performed in Melbourne, Armidale, Devonport, Sydney, Newcastle, and Washington USA.
She attended a playwriting retreat in Italy with La Mama Umbria in August, and will have a new play presented as part of public reading by La Mama ETC in New York in January.
'The Pyjama Girl' runs at the Butter Factory Theatre until Saturday November 9. Tickets are available from www.hothousetheatre.com.au.