“Sometimes I think I have a capacity for great violence in me…”

This September Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) will be presenting Of War and Women, written by Genevieve Atkins and co-directed by Sharna Cousland and Genevieve Atkins. Adapted from the Greek tragedy Women of Troy, this haunting piece of theatre portrays the suffocating presence of invasion and is sure to challenge notions of gender and sexuality.

Each year, hundreds of students help oversee the development and production of a diverse range of performance works via MUST, a department of the MSA. MUST aims to create vibrant, innovative theatre for Monash students and the wider community. The 2013 season commenced with the outrageously fun Psycho Beach Party, directed by Trelawney Edgar, and a multitude of bold work has since followed; from the hellish contemporary dance work In the Fires, We Weep, choreographed
by James McGuire, to the dynamic adaption
of two Ibsen classics with Yvonne Virsik’s
Nora and Hedda, and the new verbatim work Columbine, created by Daniel Lammin and an ensemble of MUST performers.

Recently, MUST launched The Contain- er Festival, a brand new enterprise presenting ground-breaking work of all shapes and sizes
in shipping containers around the Clayton campus. Curated by Yvonne Virsik and Anastasia Ryan, the festival was a resounding success. Hundreds of student artists and or- ganisers helped to fill these unique spaces with music, dance, performance, circus, burlesque, exhibitions and more. The community and assistance surrounding MUST is what makes the development of new works like Of War and Women possible.

Of War and Women places the suburban ideal on the frontline. In a country demolished by war, the men and women are plagued by their own demons and desires. A society obsessed with control smothers its citizens to breaking point. Unable to conform to their world and its inherent expectations, their desires violently react against their family, comrades and neighbours.

Three distinct storylines weave together to create this sensual and visually stunning new work.

Cassandra (Anna Burley), a young teen riddled with eccentricities, begins to explore her sexuality, distancing herself from her weary, controlling Mother (Emily Keene).

Meanwhile, her not-quite-newlywed neighbours find themselves caught in stagnant domesticity. A barrage of empty hopes and groundless fears fill a desperate housewife’s psyche as all the while, a war is raging behind the white picket fence.

Comrades in war are governed and restrained; they compromise their morals for the sake of their country. A sadist, a masochist and a solemn philosopher reveal their darkest secrets and their deepest fears.

Binding these storylines together is the presence of a torrid woman. She is a fantasy, a ghostly presence, a darkened memory of years past. Exquisite dreamscapes with evocative sound design complete the experience.

A visceral journey, Of War and Women delves into the absurd and the confronting. A dark humour fills the stage, bridging the line between tragedy and comedy. The suggestion of words unsaid and scenes unseen will further capture the imagination of audiences.
This new work is bound to leave a lasting impression and a few unanswered questions.




Sharna Cousland

The author Sharna Cousland

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