Ch01.B18 Dear Diary, why do I write you?
As a teenager I kept a diary. A secret, locked diary buried in my bedside drawer. In it I recorded my passionate love for Cocktail-era Tom Cruise, my dreams of being a famous movie star and every despicably unfair thing that happened.
When I left home to go to uni, I stopped.
I haven’t thought about that diary in years. But I was recently lucky enough to sit in on an open rehearsal for Melbourne performer Andi Snelling’s Adelaide Fringe show #DearDiary, and the memories of being that teenage girl came flooding back.
Andi is a much more diligent diary-keeper than I ever was. In fact, she has 25 years worth of journals. Most of them she re-discovered in a box in her Mum’s attic when she returned from a stint living in Europe.
#DearDiary‘s tagline is ‘What if your past could speak to you?’, and it was in reading that library of memories that Andi found the recurring themes linking her past and present selves.
For Andi the act of keeping a diary is one that has sustained her in many ways. One common theme driving the show is the interrogation of this need to document her life.
“The interesting thing about my diaries is I constantly question the act of diary keeping throughout my life. Why am I writing this?” she explains.
“One of the questions my show asks is how do you measure your existence? I think I’m quite obsessed with wanting to document, in particular, feelings and thoughts. I think it’s a very existential thing.
How do I know that I actually exist?”
Keeping a diary is, in part, Andi’s way of trying to work out these big life questions.
Another reason journaling is so important to Andi is its connection to her creative life.
“A by-product of documenting my life is having my artistic self and my creative process documented. It makes sense, because of course, as actors, we are our lives. It’s our life that feeds into our acting.”
As a tool for self-care, Andi also finds her diary indispensable. It’s a way of getting things off her chest and trying to make sense of what’s happening. At times of personal trauma, the act of nightly journaling helps her identify and acknowledge her feelings.
As someone who has several failed attempts at diary-keeping throughout my own adult life, I’m impressed by Andi’s commitment to the practice and its obvious benefits.
I’m even more impressed that she would be willing to take those very private scribblings and turn them into a one-woman show.
It is perhaps the ultimate example of sustainable artistic practice, in which the very medium that has nourished and supported Andi’s emotional and artistic life now provides the material for her creative expression.
#DearDiary travels through time as Andi uses a beguiling blend of physical storytelling, song, voiceover and direct address to weave together strands of her life through verbatim excerpts from her diaries. It’s in turn joyous, hilarious and heartbreaking.
I’d highly recommend catching it at Adelaide Fringe.