Ladies and Gentlemen! I assume you have heard of Emily Bronte? Mary Wollstonecraft? Of Germaine Greer? Or Naomi Wolf? Of Madonna? Of course you do! But, understand, there is a name missing amongst these figures which I will present to you. Another name must appear in this string of provocateurs – Mary MacLane! Oh yes! (..and let’s not forget, Bojana Novakovic – writer, actor and existentialist, po-mo self-referential writer and theatrical deconstructionist.) Mary MacLane! Mary MacLane? Who?

Upon entering this show I had no idea who she was. None. Fictional character, I thought. But it turns out, she was a nineteen-year-old woman who published over 100 years ago on the other side of the world, a book revealing some saucy imaginings and confessions. The program notes confess that Mary MacLane refused to succumb to the corset-bound prudery of her age, Mary’s scandalous memoir broke all the rules – and sold over 100,000 copies.”

And really, I’m not really sure, having seen the show, that I now do. But it doesn’t matter anyway. This is not a biography, well, I should say this is no more a biography as it is an autobiography.

And what did I know about Novakovic before entering the show? Not much really. But that’s ok, Google can tell you lots about her… film stuff… images… etc… and lots about her in reference to this show. One of my favourite findings in regards to this show is the battle of opinions/ideas/feminist history that is jarringly played out at the bottom of Alison Croggon’s review (Cameron Woodhead in fine eloquent form wrestling the razor-sharp lines of Croggon – I urge you to have a peek-a-boo HERE)

Then there is a nameless minstrel (Tim Rogers) with his monosyllabic musical accomplices, who play when required.

So it’s not really true that it is a Story of Mary MacLane by herself -she is surrounded. She is bouyed and promoted by men – and us, the audience, sitting their like fish as she parades about in her silky underwear and powdered legs.

It is also not true that this is a Story of Mary MacLane. This is the story of an actor: for some that may be Maclane for others its Novakovic.

What I found extremely interesting about this show is how completely uninterested I was in Mary MacLane. I didn’t find her to be thrilling or interesting or compelling, in fact, I found the performance itself to be completely out of kilter with the nervous,awkward energy of Rogers. The persona of Mary MacLane was enacted so casually, and as Kevin Jackson in his review states: “What is interesting, and, for me the clue to this work is, the actor, Ms Novakovic does not assume an American dialect that might be applicable to Butte, Montana, but talks to us as Mary, in Ms Novakovic’s, particular Australian dialect, all through the night. It is the ‘voice’ of Bojana Novakovic.”


So, the question is how much of Bojana Novakovic is in this piece and how much is the persona of Bojana Novakovic… or how much is the character of Bojana Novakovic contructed (on or off the stage) … or how much of the piece is about the idea of persona, or the literary or represented self.

Self. Here I am, in text, in blog format… often misspelt, unedited, flawed, doubtful, sometimes cocky, sometimes afraid. Here I am, Augusta Supple. A name which means something or nothing – or a composite of impressions of my vocalised/written desires and confessions. And there she is Bojana, on stage with Tim Rogers, playfully bombarded with potatoes and reciting sections of a text of Mary’s and her own.

The constructed/advertised self? or the real self? Was Mary MacLane a genius or a fraud? Was she a success or a failure? Is Bojana’s diary entry read aloud in the show real or not. Well the whole show is so theatrical/meta-theatrical that I know it’s constructed. Does the diary titillate/excite or reveal something profound? Not really. And I guess that’s the point.

We were all 19 once.

Are there parallels between Bojana and Mary? Sure. Feelings, language, desire, doubt/fear/anxiety about the future/our career etc… all human stuff – parallels we all have in common with each other and not just reserved for literary figures and actresses..

But how do we know any of this is true? Good audiences are gullible, we believe what we’re told.

And what does it mean to provoke? In the theatre it can mean to incite emotions – or reactions – most easilly done when you betray an audience’s trust. You can do that by promising one thing: and delivering another.

Perhaps you promise an incredible heart breaking show full of emotion, and instead it’s full of songs and potatoes and matter of fact recitations?

Like Madonna in the 1990s, You build a mythology around sex…

madonna erotica banned by madona2_virgilio

Like Emily Bronte in the 1830s you reveal ugly hidden thoughts and secrets:

I am the only being whose doom
No tongue would ask no eye would mourn
I never caused a thought of gloom
A smile of joy since I was born

In secret pleasure – secret tears
This changeful life has slipped away
As friendless after eighteen years
As lone as on my natal day

There have been times I cannot hide
There have been times when this was drear
When my sad soul forgot its pride
And longed for one to love me here

But those were in the early glow
Of feelings since subdued by care
And they have died so long ago
I hardly now believe they were

First melted off the hope of youth
Then Fancy’s rainbow fast withdrew
And then experience told me truth
In mortal bosoms never grew

‘Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow servile insincere –
But worse to trust to my own mind
And find the same corruption there

Or Like Jenna Marbles you advertise your inner desires on the internet:

Or if you are Augusta Supple, you write a response that says, “I guess being revealed as average and the fear of being nearly forgotten momentary celebrity is the point?”