See article in its original context here by Nina Bertok for The Melbourne Review.
TRUE LOVE TRAVELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD
When in pursuit of an extraordinary dream, some people disregard any possible consequences.
That’s the concept award-winning playwright Jane Miller is bringing to the Melbourne stages with her comedy-drama, True Love Travels On A Gravel Road. Set in regional Australia, Miller’s new work explores the tragedy of broken dreams alongside the freedom of choice through a cast of colourful (and relatable) characters.
According to the playwright, it all began with the characters themselves – long before a concrete plot was conceived.
“That’s the kind of writer I am, really,” Miller states. “I always know the characters long before I know what I’m trying to say with the story. The plot for True Love Travels On A Gravel Road came out of an idea that I had of these two guys sitting on a street in some little town. I pictured them doing a business transaction and the whole time there is a dog that keeps barking… And that’s basically where the whole play evolved from! I started thinking to myself, ‘Why are they doing this business transaction, what’s it leading up to, what’s the impact going to be?’ After that, all the details of the story came flooding in.”
Next came the main characters of the story – Jake and Maggie. Although Miller claims all of them are completely fictional, the playwright admits that there are elements of her within each one of the characters. Much like musicians tend to describe their songs, Miller says all of the play’s characters are her “babies”.
“There is one incident in the play that happens between two characters, which was inspired by something similar to a real-life happening that my mother told me about, but that’s as close as it gets,” she insists. “I truly relate to all of them, it’s like picking your favourite child. It’s interesting how I am much more forgiving of my characters and the things they do – no matter how wrong they may be – than I am of real people I know. You can learn a lot about yourself through your own writing. If a real person did something similar to one of the characters, I would say, ‘Oh, that’s really strange’ or, ‘Oh, that’s unacceptable’, but when it’s people that you invent, you feel bonded to them.”
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road tells the story of Jake – pegged the town “tard” all his life – who falls in love with Maggie – a girl also “out of step” with the community – with whom he wants to run away to Graceland, of all places. Jake and Maggie’s plans to escape the small rural town and get away from the locals – including Maggie’s straight-talking mother, philosopher Richard, and Jake’s boss and boss’ wife – turn into a near-obsession which sees the play explore the extent to which some people will go in pursuit of their own happiness.