And God said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour. He obviously hadn't reckoned on Ana.
Neighbourhood Watch takes place in the year between Kevin Rudd’s election as Australian Prime Minister and Barack Obama’s as US President. Everything was changing in the Western World and for a brief time anything seemed possible.
Against this backdrop we meet Catherine, a young woman stuck in suburbia, waiting for her life to change as monumentally as the world around her is. Into her life comes Ana, an elderly Hungarian immigrant carrying the weight of the twentieth century on her shoulders. As their unlikely relationship develops, Catherine’s life is transformed by Ana’s stories of an almost forgotten world: through her new friend’s eyes she witnesses the traumas of war, the desolation of the refugee experience, and the struggle of settling in a foreign land. It’s a common tale in our country, but one that’s all too foreign to middle-class Australians like Catherine.
In meeting Ana and hearing her stories, Catherine is given the rare opportunity of learning from someone who has survived the unthinkable. The courage this gives her in dealing with her own past is Ana’s gift to her. In turn, Ana is granted one last great friendship at a time when the journey to her life’s end was looking to be a lonely one.
Neighbourhood Watch is a glorious comedy about hope, death and pets. It's a classic odd-couple story: opposites attract, and from each other they gain a new understanding. But as the domestic crises accumulate, Neighbourhood Watch takes on a sense of enormity in the midst of the ordinary that would make Patrick White proud.
Katz is a true original and in Neighbourhood Watch her spirit of curiosity turns optimism into an art form.
[[PDF? &filename=`2252_Neighbourhood_Watch_STATE_THEATRE_SA_EDUCATION_RESOURCE.pdf` ]]
VIDEO: Playwrights talk about finding their unique style and methodology, and the personal experiences that inspire their work. Raimondo Cortese, Hannie Rayson, Lally Katz and Jenny Kemp discuss the dramas of drama with Dr Denise Varney. Recorded at the Wheeler Centre in September 2011.
"Playwright Lally Katz and Belvoir associate director Simon Stone have created one of the most affecting works of theatre seen so far this year, one that is tender yet hard-edged."
"Neighbourhood Watch is both entertaining and substantial. It is a funny and touching play about a friendship between a young woman, Catherine, and her old Hungarian neighbour. For a comedy, it is full of depth and rich with ideas. It examines the need for friendship, the value of both innocence and experience as well as the pitfalls of trusting too much and not enough. It also reflects on the European experience of World War 2, and the dislocating effect it has had upon our migrant population."
Lally Katz, writer of Neighbourhood Watch - interviewed by Kate McDowell Wed 20 July 2011.
"In Neighbourhood Watch, we learn of Anaâ€™s traumatic upbringing in Hungary before she emigrated to Australia. In this article from the Neighbourhood Watch programme, Paul Galloway looks at Hungaryâ€™s troubled recent past, and the reasons people like Ana fled to Australia."
"Neighbourhood Watch was a smash for Belvoir in 2011 and Lally Katzâ€™s biggest success yet, giving her theatrical recognition beyond the Melbourne independent scene where most of her plays have been performed. Although she had always told Ana she was writing a play about her, Lally didnâ€™t think it really clicked with her until the Opening Night at Belvoir. Her reaction to the play was somewhat typical, says Lally: â€˜It was a mixture of being very pleased and wanting to sue me.â€™"
Not in Print speaks to Australian playwright Lally Katz about her play 'Neighbourhood Watch'.
Lally Katz speaks to The Process as one of a series of interviews with leading Australian based artists working in the performing arts about their creative process.
Study Guide & Activities from the State Theatre Company of South Australia