You Can’t Hide in the Desert

Over several years I wrote and developed my memoir monologues by bringing a new show to the Adelaide Fringe each year starting in 2018. Then in 2022, in collaboration with Black Box Live, I brought three of them together, making themavailable in a new format and presented as a trilogy, online and on demand.

In these richly detailed and satisfying memoir monologues, we’re with a daughter as she packs up a house after a parent’s passing, unearthing items long forgotten. At a nursing home, we visit the grandfather whose conversations are coloured by steadily creeping dementia. We witness the ache of making space for “the one, long goodbye” of helping a child become an adult.
Jo Vabolis | InDaily

When I started these monologues with Pearls in 2018, I had an umbrella title, ‘You Can’t Hide in the Desert.’ I said it was a trilogy, partly as a way to force myself to keep writing. I knew that they would all be exploring family memory and identity, and how grief weaves in and out of our lives, but I wasn’t sure how each of the individual pieces would develop. As I was writing, I was aware of some links and references back and forth, but preparing the shows to be shared as one, it has been fascinating to see how they relate to each other in ways I don’t think I was aware of at the time.

In the storytelling culture I grew up in, we learn that stories are linear. Beginning, middle and end. But all stories—even the stories of our lives—circle back on each other. The resonance and meaning of events change as we view them from different times in our lives. When I first staged Pearls, for example, it felt to me that it was primarily about relationships and about living a life that is true to your values. It still is about those things, of course, but through these past few years, other elements of the story have had far greater resonance. There was a profound similarity in the way I felt at the time of Mum’s death and the way I was feeling at the beginning of the pandemic. A sense of disbelief, but at the same time a deep sense of comprehension. Waking every morning thinking, ‘It’s still true.’ Bringing these three pieces together has been one of the most enriching personal and creative experiences of my life.