“You know you’re trespassing right? You are an unwanted flatmate. And this is an eviction notice. For fuck sake, cant you see - you dumbass, if you take down your host, where will you go? You kill me, you kill you. The only option is to starve you. Me.”
Defining womanhood is a big task. First time playwright Hweiling Ow dives in the deep end with her debut work ‘Not Woman Enough’, a full length monologue play chronicling three woman’s journeys with their unique bodies, and how they connect to womanhood with the tangle of pressures they face.
As a prolific actor and producer, Hweiling’s own journey has taken her into writing and directing. A familiar face on shows like Shortland Street and Agent Anna and various theatre shows, she also currently has a short horror film called Vaspy in post production funded by NZ Film Com and has produced and acted in two webseries - Ao-terror-oa and AFK that are both NZ On Air funded, amongst other projects in the works.
Mentored by playwright Meilin Te Puea-Hansen, Not Woman Enough is part of PAT’s playreading series Fresh off the Page, where this year’s focus is the creation of new Asian works in NZ. Hweiling is the third of 10 writers who will debut new plays this year.
We ask Hweiling about her process and inspiration before her play is read to a live audience this month.
Catch the reading at 8.30pm at TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, May 22nd!
What inspired you to write this play?
I’ve never written a play before. So I thought I’d give it a go. I've always had an idea floating around; either for a short film or a play called Small Vagina. It didn't go anywhere further than the first scene in my head. There are some personally inspired stuff, but I've also heighten the character to places that isnt me. I was also hanging out with two diff friends who were going through the IVF process to get pregnant and really feel strongly about their journey through it.
The first things that came to mind was about these 3 women and the different things they have to face in life because they are ‘women’.
This play is also collection of thoughts, reading the media; and experiences from people I know as well as stuff I am drawing up from my own life. I spent a lot of time figuring out my existence, who I am, my role in society - expectations around being female in a Malaysian Chinese context.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the expectations around women, particularly women’s body parts - and the pressures and objectification we are put through. The amount of responsibility that has been put on us by patriarcal, cultural and society structures are incredibly unfair but yet we take it. A lot of the times its disguise in nuances or passive aggressive statements.
What were the challenges you faced during the process?
I'm always fighting for time to write.
What do you think makes a good story?
New perspectives that people haven't seen before. Thinking outside the box of how a story can be presented. And of course, authenticity.
How do you want people to feel at the end of your play?
HAHAHAHA - never thought about that in any great detail. I can’t control how anyone feels, and everyone will feel something different from each other. I guess if they don’t walk out, and they come away feeling something, that’s all I can hope for.
‘Who’ did you write your play for?
Myself. It is an uninterrupted conversation from me to whomever.
What character was the easiest to write? Why?
They are all currently quite easy. I am the characters in some shape or form, and the characters are me - in an augmentation of certain behaviour.
Can you explain any ‘theatrical’ ideas/concepts utilized in the play?
To come! This is probably the biggest thing I am struggling with.