A mother's wisdom lost then found

In the search for a string of pearls, a daughter travels to her abandoned childhood home and a mother travels from Port Pirie to Paris without ever leaving Australia. Family relics abound: ashtrays, a Princess Diana jigsaw, a commode used as a table. Memories are ignited then questioned. And still the pearls cannot be found. Family fractures deepen until finally a heartbreaking, but healing truth is revealed. Combining theatre and storytelling this is a story that will make you laugh, then cry, then laugh again.

"This is live storytelling at its best--riveting in detail and viscerally devastating when touching on its broader themes of grief and the patchwork of memories we are left with when a loved one is gone."
Rachel Mead | InDaily

About the show

This is the first solo show I wrote and performed. It remains the most precious of all the shows to me. Pearls tells some of my Mum’s story. It was an ordinary life in many ways, but she lived her ordinary life in wonderful style. Her lesson in what it truly means to live each day as if it were your last remains one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

First staged in 2018 at The Jade, and since then in some beautiful settings including Holden Street Theatres and in the rose garden as part of Hartstone-Kitney ProductionsBlack Box Theatre in the Botanic Gardens. I love every single opportunity I have to perform this show. I always find something new in her story, and am always grateful for the chance to bring my Mum’s story to life.

I had done a bit of stand-up comedy many years before, but this was the first time I’d done any performance since playing the role of Grandpa Joe in the Port Pirie Youth Theatre production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I asked Ross Vosvotekas if he would be interested in directing the piece, and I am so glad to have had his influence. Ross has a deep love for theatre, and for making a piece the best that it can be. I thought I knew the story (and my mother) well, but Ross not only helped me to learn even more, he taught me how to tell the story in ways that made it come to life for the audience and for me.

As the number of monologues grew, it became clear that there were three shows in particular that threaded in and out of each other. In 2022, in collaboration with Hartstone-Kitney Productions Pearls was available alongside The Forgettory and I Made an Adult in a trilogy titled You Can’t Hide in the Desert through the magic of Black Box Live.

Acknowledgements and credits

Written and performed by Tracy Crisp
Directed by Ross Vosvotekas
Dramaturgy by Maggie Wood
Love and support by Adrian Jones
First staged at The Jade, Adelaide Fringe 2018

Image by Frank Lynch

Thank you to my brother for trusting me with our mum’s story