Q & A with Merlynn Tong; Playwright and performer of Blue Bones


When a woman finds scars left by her ex-boyfriend of many years etched into her bones, she begins a turbulent journey to unpack her past and discover how he got under her skin.

Based on the true story of two teenagers’ romance as it blossoms then warps in the heat of bustling Singapore, Blue Bones is a one-woman show told with incredible honesty by Merlynn Tong. We asked a few questions in relation to the play to Merlynn on this very concerning subject that is now staged at the Powerhouse Brisbane.

Q & A with Merlynn Tong; Playwright and performer of Blue Bones

1. Obviously Blue Bones is based on a true story, how do you feel about letting large audiences into such intimidating parts of your past life?

It was actually more intimidating for me when I was forming the early drafts of the story. By the time we hit the performance stage, my Dramaturge/ Director, Ian Lawson (of Playlab), and I have worked on this script for 2 years and have had creative development showings to groups of audiences so I felt quite ready for a larger audience to receive the work.

2. This show is quiet confronting and it must have taken a lot of courage to write a show about a topic such as domestic violence. Did you research into stories about other women who shared similar experiences?

Oh yes absolutely, I read so many stories and did so much research. I must say though that I started this research and discussion way before the show was even a seed in my mind. Once I hit my late teens, 19-20 years old or so, I felt a strong desire to understand what in the world I was doing with that abusive ex. My research commenced and it was heartbreaking that the stories were so similar. The emotional truths of our situations were almost all in the same vein. But it was also a relief in a sense, I felt less alone, like I was not the only one who had gone through this.

One of my research findings that really fascinated me is Sandra L. Brown’s description of the best victims of brainwashing: they are often perfectionist, goal-oriented and resourceful. That alone blew my mind and invited a reframing of how I viewed myself.

3. How important do you think it is to address such important social issues through artistic measures?

For me as an artist it is incredibly important. I truly believe that art and in particular theatre is such a powerful medium that can really transform lives. I have experienced this myself many times as an audience member and I really hope that I can do the same for someone out there.

4. Do you hope to leave any long-lasting impressions about this topic to your audiences?

There was a lovely quote from Blue Curtain Brisbane’s review of the show the other day, “[This is a] show that needs to be seen by as many young women (and men) as possible in reminder that whatever its shade, no bruise is okay.” If people walk away with that, I’d be really glad.

Also, that if we choose to and are willing, we can work through our traumas—these events do not define who we are as human beings.

Tickets: https://goo.gl/C1jo2n
Images Available: https://goo.gl/Nj9tiz
More about Merlynn: https://goo.gl/rOIFZA

Event Details:

Date: 4 – 13 May, 2017
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington St, New Farm QLD 4005

Questions complied by Jacque Coleman

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