Actor Jules Allen explores the often complicated relationship between mother/daughter in her second play Betty, which is described as “largely autobiographical, unapologetic, and wonderfully amusing.”
We sat down with Jules to discuss the inspiration behind her latest work and what we can look forward to in the future.
Tell us the reason behind producing Betty and your inspiration?
I was left reeling in the wake of losing my Mother. It had been a very quick decline, marred by the impacts of Dementia and a rare form of Parkinsons. It takes a long time to make sense of the bizarre happenings when the mind betrays us. Sometimes it brings a clarity and allows insight into areas that have never been revealed. The latter definitely awarded me greatly with this. I knew there were parts of her story that needed to be told. I was also aware that our complex relationship, as Mother and daughter, was one that many could relate to.
To be honest, I believe it was reading Eugene O’Neil’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night that really inspired the writing of Betty. I now deeply appreciate why Eugene did not want this work published in his lifetime. These matters can be so deeply personal. They are also what bind us as human beings.
What has been the feedback so far? And what would you like the audience to take away from it?
I guess I just want the audience to be moved in some way. We all have a story. It’s my belief that it is only in the sharing of them that we can truly connect as human beings. I hope it provides the audience with a deeper sense of connection to their own stories. I know good theatre has that effect on me.
How has your feeling about your mother changed in the process of this production?
In writing Betty, I did gain a deeper understanding of my mother and why she approached the world the way she did.
I also gained insight into intergenerational trauma and how family patterns and cycles become so deeply entrenched. Adding weight to this was my mother’s immigration from Thailand at a young age. The cultural disparities and the drifting between the two worlds, but never belonging in one or the other, created such a sense of unease and disharmony.
Something I only truly understood after she passed.
Your career has seen many changes. Where did your love for acting stem from?
I think I was born an actor. Those of us who are, usually know. I planned to be an actor when I got older but I let other people’s opinions guide what I thought was necessary. Then Motherhood sprung upon me somewhat prematurely and it wasn’t a possibility. Especially given the direction my life took and the multitude of children in the mix over the years. I wouldn’t change any of it.
I’m free to act now and I’m loving it but, to date, the most valuable thing I have done in life is work with and raise children in need. They are and always will be my greatest teachers.
A tough one to answer given we are in a global pandemic. I have a feeling, however, that a novel will be next, so watch this space.
More about Betty
Betty is a harrowing and heartfelt exploration of dementia through a complex mother/daughter relationship, challenged by cultural clashes and long-buried secrets. Though it explores hard-hitting subject matter, Betty is unapologetic, candid, and incredibly humorous; its hilarity adding a much-needed contrast to the weight of loss and tragedy.
You can watch Betty at Theatre Works – 14 Acland St, St Kilda
16 – 26 February, 2022
Tues – Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $37.50 Full, $29.50 Concession and $22.50 Student and Preview
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 or online at www.theatreworks.org.au