Written during the depths of Melbourne’s lockdown Carly Wilding and Kylie Morrigan discuss their fantastical new show about friendship, freedom and encouraging the inner Celtic goddess in us all.
Carly and Kylie spoke to Australian Stage's Heather Bloom.
This show sounds wild, tell me about it.
Carly: The show is called Bumbles and Moz and it’s about two women who are next door neighbours and next-door loners. They are also coincidentally musicians. When mother nature pushes them together during (spoiler alert) an earthquake that literally rattles them out of their front doors, it forces them into this beautiful friendship that then has them forming a duo. Then they realise they both have the same dream of becoming Celtic Goddesses. It’s a story of what happens when you dream and then make those dreams come true. It’s also about all the fucked-up things in friendship and all types of things on the way.
How much of this story is inspired by real events?
Kylie: It’s semi-autobiographical. We started hanging out during lockdown walks and started talking about singing. I think both of us were secretly wanting to sing together but were scared to suggest it to the other. Then it just really snowballed, we had a couple of really long talks that evolved into this dream of having a duo. For some context; Carly’s a professional actor dreaming of being a professional musician and I’m a professional musician dreaming of being an actor. We were kind of playing in each other’s playground. I was saying “let’s do a duo and do this” and Carly was saying “let’s do a scene” and play around in doing some acting things and then the two just suddenly slammed into each other and we thought let’s do a whole show.
Kylie, you’ve been a professional musician your whole life is this your first foray into acting?
Kylie: Properly yes, I‘ve been on the sidelines quite a few times and I’ve always wished to be on stage. I actually played in the Opera Ballet Orchestra in Melbourne, the State Orchestra and got a really bad neck from sitting in the pit staring up at the stage.
There’s been a few times in my life when I’ve auditioned to be in things and then they find out I play an instrument and ask me to play in the band instead. It was like always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I’ve dabbled in acting and also in doing Voyage with Carly, which is where we met, and being a musician but also getting to do a bit of acting as part of that was very fun.
Was Voyage just the two of you on stage the whole time?
Carly: Voyage was myself and Penny Larkins as the two actors then we had Helen Begley, Penelope Swales and Kylie as the band, but they were on the stage the whole time so they were kind of like a Greek chorus up with us as well.
I’ve noticed that your involvement with theatre has quite a few classical elements. You talk about a Greek chorus in Voyage, and I know you’ve done a lot of Shakespeare, and this show mentions Celtic Goddesses. There’s a classical mythological theme in your work, is that what inspires you Carly?
Carly: It’s funny because the show I’ve written is about two women who find a way to play together. They start by using this costume box and trying on new ways to get through creative blocks as two introverts who don’t know how to do that in other ways. What happens when they keep playing and it keeps deepening is this greater power in them and then the greater power above them of mother nature, that sort of invisible energy that conducts the world.
For me, that’s what I find really beautiful, the invisible things that are bigger than us. I’ve got Celtic in me as well and something that fascinates me is all the goddesses, it’s finding the real part within the mythological part. There’s something about things that are older than we are that I find really beautiful and interesting to write about, even when I’ writing a silly scene about firemen who are failing at their job. There’s something elemental and bigger than that, which underpins the whole story, even when it’s silly and funny, there’s this puppeteer that is mother nature and the goddesses of the world.
On this idea of fate and “meant to be”, do you think that this lockdown was divine intervention (yes I’m blaming you for the pandemic), or was your friendship and in turn this project simply a light in the darkness that was Melbourne’s Covid era nightmare?
Carly: I would love to say it’s some sort of divine intervention. Last lockdown, the big one in Melbourne I had such a terrible time. I didn’t have someone to be a friend or creative partner to get me through. So being able to have that this time was amazing.
We were lucky to have our entire season of Voyage performed uninterrupted but then the next day or few days after Melbourne went back into lockdown. Call it fate, call it whatever you want but all these strange very serendipitous series of events occurred and I’m very grateful to have someone to do all that creative and friend stuff with.
The music in the show is that all original?
Kylie & Carly: Yes
Is the style that of folk or folk-fusion?
Kylie: It’s definitely a fusion, there are three main songs, and each have their own sort of arc within the play. It’s definitely coming from a folk base, but we push the boundaries a little.
Carly: Also, the music follows the evolution of the characters and the line of the play. As these two next door loners evolve into Celtic goddesses the music evolves with them.
How many instruments are you guys playing up there?
Kylie: I play violin on stage but guitar in the track and Carly plays harp and guitar on stage.
Carly: and we both sing
How is the harp practice going?
Carly: Look it’s going okay, it’s been a bit rough these past couple of weeks because I haven’t had time but we’re smashing out Sally Gardens every day.
Kylie: It sounds so beautiful, it’s just so mesmerizing to listen to.
Where did you even find a harp?
Carly: Well listen… So, I had a small crisis, wait let’s not call it a crisis, let’s call it a moment of inspiration in lockdown where I decided that that’s what I needed to do. I needed to be a Celtic goddess and I needed to lean into the red hair and learn to play the harp. Because that feels like the most appropriate thing to do with my life. So I thought right, I’m getting a harp and I rang my mum and told her and she said “cool, how?”
I found a woman who actually rents out her harp and was able to get it as she was within my kilometer radius, so it’s not actually mine but I am having one built! I’m really going for it! I have to catch up to Kylie’s violin skills, just give me 20 years.
The show is playing at the Butterfly Club, which is a renowned cabaret venue, would you classify Bumbles and Moz as a cabaret?
Carly: I’ve been calling it a cabaplay – is that a word? It definitely has some cabaret elements, but it has a real play feeling about it where there are scenes and scene structure and it’s a little different to a cabaret where there’s music strung through with dialogue, where this is dialogue first so it’s kind of the opposite.
With the cabaret elements are there any involving audience participation or breaking of the fourth wall?
Carly: We engage with the audience but there’s no breaking of walls or anything like that.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about the production?
Kylie: Carly’s an amazing designer and she’s made the most incredible costumes, they’re just beautiful.
Is that’s what’s in the costume box?
Carly: I’ve made about half to three quarters of the costumes, and I don’t know if you know this about me but I’m not a professional seamstress.
Kylie: She’s very talented
Carly: I’ve made costumes despite not knowing how to make costumes, but I think they look good, we’re gonna lean in and let the audience decide. But please don’t look at my seams as I don’t have an overlocker or a big enough table to cut fabric flat. So they’re alright, just don’t look too closely.
I love this, this is a perfect example of the past few years and how you are thriving through adversity. You’ve managed to put on two shows, and I know you’re in the process of directing some future productions. Kylie what’s next for you, are you heading back into the orchestra pit?
Kylie: Not the orchestra no, but back to performing with other bands I’m in with my partner Mel Webb. We do duo stuff and lots of recording and lots of festivals coming up which is really exciting. It’s just so exciting as performers to be back in performance land.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the show before we finish up?
Kylie: It’s funny, it’s hopefully a little bit moving, it’s a beautiful honest and hopeful story about friendship.
Carly: With some fucked up comedy!
What could be better than a night out with your bestie bringing your inner Celtic goddess to the surface and having a fantastic laugh while enjoying the stunning vocals and musicianship of Carly Wilding and Kylie Morrigan.
Carly Wilding and Kylie Morrigan
Bumbles and Moz
Written by Carly Wilding | Dramaturgy by Ruby Rees | Story and Music by Carly Wilding & Kylie Morrigan