Treading Water on a Stage


A transgender woman stands in a graffiti scrawled bathroom
Janet Anderson stars in the acclaimed play Overflow.

Led by an all-trans and gender-diverse team, Overflow is a ‘devastating tour of women’s bathrooms- who is allowed in and who is kept out.’
 
QNews spoke with director Dino Dimitriadis and transgender actress Janet Anderson about the acclaimed play Overflow, which sees a trans woman trapped in a flooding bathroom, as it returns for the Sydney Festival.

Dino, can you give me a brief synopsis of Overflow?

Dino Dimitriadis: Overflow is the story of Rosie, a young trans woman who is cornered into a train station toilet cubicle.

Determined not to be rescued again, Rosie distracts herself with memories of bathroom encounters, drunken heart-to-hearts by dirty club sinks and friendships forged in front of crowded mirrors. It’s a powerhouse new work by one of the UK’s leading trans writers Travis Alabanza.

What can people expect from this production?
 

Dino Dimitriadis: Overflow is a 60-minute tour de force. The production transports audiences into Rosie’s world, through a thrilling design and a standout performance from Janet Anderson. It is full of laughs, memories we can all identify with, and deep insights in a life living outside of gender expectations. 

What is it about this show that resonates so strongly with audiences?

Dino Dimitriadis: The humour, the humanity, the extraordinary range of story that unfolds over 60 minutes. One of the most profound aspects of the show was meeting audience members afterwards. The production is made by a beautiful community of artists and this community extends into our audiences. Rosie is magnetic and deeply human. She’s funny, real and steals audience hearts. 

Working with an all trans and gender diverse team deeply informs the texture of the work. It’s a production, though, for all audiences, of all ages and identities. Now more than ever, with trans lives politicised in the news, spending an hour in the bathroom with Rosie offers human insight through Travis’s astounding words and the thrilling theatrical experience created by our creative team. Bring your friends, your Mum, your date. This is theatre for now, and we’re thrilled to share it with you again in Sydney.

Janet, this is the second production of Overflow, and with an all trans and gender diverse cast and crew, what is it about the role of Rosie that had you coming back for more?

Janet Anderson: It’s not only the joy of playing Rosie every night that had me itching for a return season, but the team I got to make it with, plus the way the work was received and heralded made it a no-brainer. 

To be able to perform this incredible show every night to a packed out audience, this early in my career, is Disney-channel levels of ridiculous!  

Can you speak to the significance of the play’s setting in a women’s bathroom?

Janet Anderson: Women’s bathrooms and their fraught existence is the core of Rosie’s journey. They act as a barometer for her comfortability in her own skin. 

They’re often the only refuge many women and femme’s have to connect on a night out, without the gaze of men. Who among us hasn’t had an undeniable experience of sisterhood in the sticky sanctuary? 

But for trans people in particular, the bathroom has become an unlikely point of violent contention. 

We seemingly can’t escape the conflation of trans people needing to piss and trans people wanting to overthrow society and install a genderless, polyamorous hellscape. 

I hope I don’t even need to articulate the stupidity of that.

Can you speak to the importance of this show for the trans and gender diverse community?

Janet Anderson: I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many gorgeous trans humans after the show and hear what the show has planted in them. A couple have said it’s encouraged them to go into the arts themselves, to have hard conversations with friends, or even start making the choice of living authentically in their bodies. 

But what’s even more beautiful is how many people are able to sit silently and listen to Rosie’s words, and leave feeling something they’d never considered, witnessed or felt before. 

The beauty of Overflow is that you get to KNOW Rosie in her entirety. You get to see her in her most feral and vulnerable state. I don’t think it’s possible to leave the show without her on your shoulder. 

What’s next for you? Is telling queer stories a priority?

Janet Anderson:Absolutely! If telling complex and provocative trans stories is my lot in life, then sign me the fuck up. What’s next is secret but exciting business. But Rosie will be back with a vengeance. 

Tickets are available at www.darlinghursttheatre.com/overflow

Sydney Festival
Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Darlinghurst Theatre Company
17 – 27 January
$49 – $70

Midsumma Festival
Arts Centre Melbourne
31 January – 4 February 2024

Geelong Arts Centre
8 – 10 February 2024

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Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch: sarah@qnews.com.au

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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