Scene from 'Lifeforce'
Scene from ‘Lifeforce’

I had the opportunity to interview the director Lisa Freshwater and the star herself Natalie Lotkinprior prior to opening night to get their perspective on a very different topic for a musical”-

LIFEFORCE (the mother of all journeys) premiered Friday 6th September at the King Street Theatre, Newton as part of the 2013 Sydney Fringe.

Writer-composer Joanna Weinberg is the creator, composer and co-writer of the 2013 international feel-good hit film-reviews Goddess as well as writer and composer of Every Single Saturday (the soccer parent musical) and The Piano Diaries.

Joanna and the cast take audiences on a surreal emotional journey through fertility, adoption in the ’70s and redefining families as we once knew them.

Scene from 'Lifeforce'
Scene from ‘Lifeforce’

IVF and adoption are not standard topics for a musical, so what made you choose this avenue?

Lisa: Joanna Weinberg is very close with Natalie and was great support for her during the process. Joanna felt very strongly about wanting to share Natalie’s story. She had a chance meeting of a young woman during the writing process who had been adopted during the 1970s and her story added another level.

Scene from 'Lifeforce'
Scene from ‘Lifeforce’

So why a musical rather than a play or a book?

Lisa: Joanna had the idea for the story and as someone who writes musicals it made sense to create it in this genre.

As the main inspiration for the story Natalie, how does it feel to be playing the lead?

Natalie: It’s absolutely amazing and I’m loving it. It’s a real honour.

Natalie as Ruth
Natalie as Ruth


Natalie, you were lucky enough to conceive twin girls who are now 11 months old, how are you finding the split between the musical and playing “mum”?

Natalie: It’s been hard but thoroughly rewarding.

Lisa, with a cast of talented actors/actresses, how have you found the rehearsals and development of musicals?

Lisa: Certainly the cast has been very easy to work with and we’ve all had a great experience rehearsing and getting ready for opening night. We’ve all really loved it.

Scene from 'Lifeforce'
Scene from ‘Lifeforce’

How does this story transcend our ideas and conventions around the topics of IVF and adoption?

Natalie: It’s not just about the process of trying to have a baby or IVF specifically, but also about family, the different looks our families have these days. It’s not just mum, dad, 2.5 kids, cat and dog but more than all families are possible and what they look like.

For example, my girl’s dad is a gay dad and we have created a family that is unconventional, complex and complicated but that works really well. In the first part of the musical, we look at what it is to have a child with someone you’re not in a relationship with and how that can work. There is a very big musical number about it.

Lisa: The show is devastating but uplifting as well as funny. For anyone who has been through the IVF process before, or a similarly stressful experience might’ve felt that the absurdity of extreme situations can bring out the humour and we try to bring this out in the show as well. It’s not funny in the sense that life can be a surreal circus at times but it’s more about finding the humour in life.

What is the core emphasis of the musical that you want to convey to audiences?

Lisa: I think it’s the idea that it doesn’t matter if you’ve gone through the process of IVF, whether you’ve struggled to have a child, whether you’ve fallen pregnant instantly, I think everybody, universally has been a child, had parents, known someone who’s been through this process (or something similar). I think there is an essence of letting go in order to achieve or discover or allow what you dream of to land for you is probably the wider theme and takes it beyond just being a story of IVF.

On the 18th after the performance there is a Q&A session… what kind of question do you predict you’ll receive from the audience?

Lisa: I would imagine that there would be a strong focus on Natalie’s process and her journey and how that was put into a dramatic piece of theatre.

Natalie: Joanna will be part of the Q&A as well, so I think also people might ask about the early 70’s practices for unwed mothers and their babies. There’s a lot of factual information in the musical about it.

Scene from 'Lifeforce'
Scene from ‘Lifeforce’

LIFEFORCE by Joanna Weinberg

September 6-21 Wed-Sat 7.30 pm

King St Theatre, 644 King St (corner Bray St) Newtown

Tickets $30 / $25 conc.

Book | 0423 082 015 |  | 9020 6980

Lifeforce has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council and Robert Albert of Alberts.Images by Richard Weinstein