Girls Act Good currently has thirteen members. Membership is by invitation only.
As a GAG member you can be involved in monthly moved readings, speciality workshops, film projects and theatre productions.
All members are working professionals within the performing arts industry. We are based in Melbourne with interstate members in Sydney.
GIRLS ACT GOOD ALLOWS THEIR MEMBERS TO BE MOTHERS AND HAVE A CAREER
Written by Emma Jane Caldwell
Images by Shanon Kulupach
Girls Act Good is a collective of female performers, writers, producers and creatives who have come a long way from their humble roots reading scripts together in founder Jennifer Monk’s living room to keep their skills honed and to support each other in a challenging industry. Years on, those living room readings still happen monthly with members Skyping in from wherever they are in the world. Girls Act Good have a hefty body of work behind them, with 2018 being their busiest year yet, seeing the release of their short feature The Association, a new web series, Last Breath, and a return season of their festive theatre show, A Christmas Tale.
From the living room, to the stage, this collective of women have long been champions of supporting each other through momentous life events (babies, breakups, weddings, job changes etc.) and ensuring that acting opportunities are still available to women in all stages of life. Most recently, this was on display in A Christmas Tale, with cast member Constance Washington taking the stage at 20 weeks pregnant with her second child.
So, I asked Constance what her first reaction was to her pregnancy. “When I first fell pregnant I thought my career was over. Dramatic I know but I just couldn't see how it would work." And the challenges of juggling being a mum of a toddler, pregnant with her second and performing in a show? "It has definitely been harder to remember lines with a small human stealing my brain and I certainly feel far more tired. I stand on stage with a growing bump squeezing into my costume and my older, and bigger and far more vocal first-born running around the theatre. I'm still lucky enough to have been able to take her to rehearsals with me. She chats to the girls, gets up on stage with them, starts singing mid scene. But the girls don't blink an eye, they just stop what they are doing and join the toddler in a chorus of 'If you're happy and you know it'. And I am. I am very happy and I know it."
Long-time ensemble member, Lisa Dallinger, gave me some insight into what it’s like rehearsing with a toddler around. “Having a bub in rehearsals can of course be distracting! We would often just stop and watch her, as she is so cute and beautiful, however we would then simply refocus and continue on. We would just adapt. This is what we do. Why can't we have a family and have careers as well?” Shanon Kulupach adds “When it’s Constance’s turn to concentrate we just take the reins in entertaining her daughter, playing games to distract her to let mama work!”
Director and founder of Girls Act Good, Jennifer Monk, explains to me what her experience has been directing a pregnant ensemble member, especially since Constance had been cast prior to finding out about her pregnancy. Jenn explained to me “I wanted her in the show, but I had never directed a pregnant woman and wanted her to know she had choices about what she wanted to be involved in. Constance said that initially when she told her partner she was worried about the show… but her partner reassured her and said “Jenn will love it, she will use it in the show.” And that is exactly what I did.” That’s not to say that it wasn’t a challenge physically for Constance, with the long days and nights of independent theatre sometimes taking a toll. Jenn told me that her “real eye-opening moment was on the day we opened. It was going to be a big day, 10am start, a rehearsal tidying up some scenes and dance, 2 tech and dress rehearsals, radio interview, photo shoot and then the opening of the show. The night before I asked if there was anything I could do to make it easier for her. Constance said, she just might to have a sleep in between runs. And she said that she might not go full blow in all the dress runs. I offered to bring in a blow-up mattress if she needed.”
It’s supportive environments like this that enable women to continue their craft at all stages of their lives. Girls Act Good are certainly an example of a collective of women that believe in supporting each other to ensure that they have opportunities to perform and create irrespective of their circumstances.