Girl Running, Boy Falling adapted by Kate Gaul from the novel by Kate Gordon
Girl Running, Boy Falling is a coming of age narrative of living after a suicide and the multitude of ways in which we grieve.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people in Australia, and it is still relatively taboo to discuss it openly. When Kate Gordon wrote the novel she wanted to create a conversation starter around mental health and suicide prevention in young adults.
“Do you ever look at the sky and think that’s where we belong? Like maybe the world is the wrong way around and we’re meant to be up there, floating? “
16-year-old Therese lives in Burnie. Her Aunt Kath calls her Tiger. Her friends call her Resey. The boy she loves calls her Champ. She’s a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Therese has always had her feet on the ground. She’s running through high school, but someone in her life is about to fall. When he does, her perfect world falls with him. For the first time in her life, Therese can’t stand being on the ground. Girl Running, Boy Falling is about a girl and boy—who are beautifully flawed.
From Kate Gordon “I have been working on various incarnations of Girl Running, Boy Falling, for many years. When I was 19, one of my friends killed himself. He was a hugely popular kid – funny, smart, handsome, popular, athletic, completely beloved. Everyone who knew him was in utter shock at his passing, and it rocked our close-knit world. 3 years ago, another childhood friend took his own life. He, too, was so loved, and I was completely shaken to the core at his loss. I began Girl Running, Boy Falling as a way of dealing with his passing, and of examining the impact that my other friend’s death had on me, at an early age. I wanted to look at the things we tell other people, and the things we hide; how we can never truly know people – even in this world of social media where we feel like we know everything. I also wanted to look at the ways a community might deal with the death of one of its favourite sons; and how we “should” process grief. Word to the wise: there is no “right” way."
From Kate Gaul “I have always been attracted to YA fiction and coming-of-age stories. In 2019 I initiated a co-production between my own company and Blue Cow in Hobart for a production of Nothing ( an adaptation of a Nordic YA novel. It was part of my exploration of the form and structure of these pieces that are about the young adult experience, yet resonate deeply with adult audiences. In Kate Gordon I found the perfect source material. The novel is set on the North-West Coast of Tassie, it examines a dark, high stakes events, and demands a surreal adventure to find its way back into the light. The cast of characters is diverse their relationships contemporary and the landscape becomes another character in the story.
This is a play of two halves. The first act is a cause and effect narrative with interpolated poetic moments -Tiger comes from a broken home lives with Aunt Kath who becomes her stalwart carer and confidant. Tiger keeps a box of objects collected from every day with letters to her absent parents. The mystery surrounding Tiger’s parents is revealed slowly across the narrative. The first half ends with Wally’s death.
In part two Tiger finds help from an unexpected quarter when Rhino from the supermarket takes her on a tear-away road trip to the Launceston Gorge. It is heightened, theatrical and totally surreal as poetry and drama go hay-wire! Oh, and did I say there’s a thread of 1980s music permeating the world of these characters as they are all preparing for the school musical? The play is for an ensemble cast of 5 actors playing all the roles.