A premiere production of a deeply personal play, Justin Nott presents Variations or Exit Music at the La Mama Courthouse for a limited season from 15 September 2022.
As Justin’s heart breaks, so does his mind. Haunted by the memory of his first love’s demise, and unable to see the emergence of a new one, he mines the debris of his world in search of hope.
Variations or Exit Music takes the ending of three big loves and pries them open to understand what the hell happens to us when our other halves leave.
“Fifteen years ago, I had my first heartbreak and handled it cinematically, which is to say I didn’t handle it well,” says writer and director Justin Nott, Festival Director for Midsumma’s new Get Bent Fest!
“Seven years later, I felt that same pain return with the ending of my longest relationship yet. This time, however, I was living life as an expat in a foreign country. I was treading familiar war-torn territory, but now with a pen in hand.”
“And so, Variations coursed out of me. But what makes my breakups any different to yours? Why hear my story when we’ve all known loss of this kind? Maybe because it’s something we do share,” said Nott.
As the title suggests, the play is a collection of variations on endings – the comings and goings of love for four queer men – and began life as Nott’s necessary scribblings on trains, over wine, awake at 4.00am, or listening to music.
“During both breakups, I succumbed to incredible depression. The kind that skews reality to appear ugly, alien, and cold. The one constant saviour throughout was music. Variations embraces song in its structure as the guiding light for these characters,” says Nott.
The Production has been twice defeated by Covid, however Nott feels this has only served to imbue the play with greater resonance as a map for hope in solitude.
“Throughout the last two years, we have shown fierce resilience in the face of loneliness, and Variations speaks to this. It’s a hopeful play in this way,” he said.
Featuring a diverse and largely queer team – including actor and drag artist Lachlan Martin (aka Tilly Capulet), award-winning actor and theatre-maker Matthew Connell (The Darkening Sky at Theatre Works), actor Yuchen Wang (SBS’s Hungry Ghosts), actor Kurt Pimblett (Red Stitch’s Hir) and Green Room award winning composer Danni A. Esposito.
Variations or Exit Music tells a familiar story in a unique way, embracing poetics, queerness, and the exact magnitude of ache we can’t possibly describe in words (although we try).
It’s not another queer tragedy or another coming out tale. It’s just the beautiful story of four men opening themselves to love even when it seems impossible.
Writer & Director: Justin Nott | Featuring: Matthew Connell, Lachlan Martin, Kurt Pimblett, Yuchen Wang | Set & Costume Design: Eloise Kent | Sound Design: Edwin Cheah | Musical Composition: Danni A. Esposito | Creative Producer: Nicole La Bianca | Dramaturge: Bridget Mackey | Stage Manager: Tom Backhaus | Intimacy Coordinator: Isabella Vadiveloo
Variations or Exit Music
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Season: 15 – 25 September 2022
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: Variations or Exit Music – photo by Skye Sobejko