THEY could not be studying subjects further from scriptwriting, but second year UWA students Matthew Nixon (engineering) and Ralph Thompson (maths) have penned the book and lyrics of University Dramatic Society’s first-semester musical The Flatpack Life.
Both were UDS members last year but not creatively immersed in the Society until The Flatpack Life director Rupert Williamson proposed they team up.
“Ralph and I discussed it for a bit, committed to it and didn’t look back,” Nixon said.
“I did drama in Year 12 and wrote a lot at school but never on a project like this; it’s been a big challenge.”
Nixon said the idea for the original comedy musical formed during a brainstorming session after Thompson had recently visited Ikea.
“The Flatpack Life emerged because we wanted a silly situation comedy and Ralph had been to Ikea,” 19-year-old Nixon said.
“The whole plotline was constructed around that; it integrated two strange ideas of customs law enforcement and Ikea, morphing into this kooky story.”
The musical’s main character Bjorn Hammarskjold moves to Australia from Sweden to work in his dream job as assistant door greeter at big Ikea-esque furniture franchise Mobler.
Hammarskjold meets the production’s heroine Rhonda and life could not be better until he discovers Mobler has a dark underbelly.
“We started writing around November last year and finished end of February,” Nixon said.
“It was a long process but I found it really interesting and learnt so much about the structure of musical comedy.
“We’d seen plays, read and studied them but hadn’t been open to the intricacies of plot structure, which we learnt under the guidance of our dramaturge and Rupert helping us along the way. It’s delicately built.”
Nixon said he and Thompson had stayed out of the rehearsal room until two weeks ago, to give Williamson time to develop his vision, and were excited by what they saw.
“It was surreal seeing an idea that was just in my head and now it’s gone through on to paper and people are saying it in a big hall,” he said.
“Ralph and I have discussed other writing possibilities in the future and becoming more involved in UDS.
“There’s nothing in particular set yet, but I have notebooks where I’ve played around with other ideas for musicals. It’s sparked an interest and I’m sure won’t be the last thing we write.”
What: The Flatpack Life
Where: Dolphin Theatre, UWA
When: May 3 to 7