The inspiration behind Before the Meeting

A tale of community, recovery, and the phantoms we welcome into our lives

As the next show in our 2022 Seymour Season, we’re delighted to present the Australian premiere of Adam Bock’s award-winning drama, Before the Meeting, a raw, realistic, and wryly funny examination of the cost of addiction and the effort it takes to stay clean.

From 19 May, White Box Theatre will bring Before the Meeting to the Seymour stage, and before it begins, we decided to explore what drove Bock to pen this bold, new work, and how it all came together behind the scenes.

Strength in numbers

At its core, Before the Meeting is about making genuine connections, about the importance of building bonds and fostering friendships to help us through even our darkest of days.

Reflecting in a 2019 interview, Bock discussed what drew him to this theme, noting he was interested in writing a piece to contrast with the modern individualist mindsets so pervasive in our culture, and in exploring the power of the group instead.

‘It’s a play about AA,’ Bock explained, ‘… and what’s interesting about AA is that it suggests that a group can help you. It’s a big question that we are facing right now in our culture… trying to remember that, actually, the group has to be okay for the individual to be okay.’

The isolation and turmoil of the past few years have only highlighted the importance of communal connection, making this powerful concept more relevant today than ever.

After addiction

Before the Meeting is a play about addiction, but it’s also about the aftermath – that less talked about time when the liquor runs dry and you’re faced with the demons of your past.

It’s clear that this recovery phase was important for Bock to explore from the outset, with the playwright telling The New York Times in 2019 that he ‘was interested in writing about what happens after you stop drinking’, and telling Times Union that, ‘the part that's not being told [in other stories] is living without booze, rather than being destroyed by it.’

A 2018 interview with Portland Centre Stage offers further insight into Bock’s motivation, with Bock explaining his interest in less told stories and new perspectives: ‘In [2002 play] Typographer’s Dream, [I wrote], ‘If you change the way the story of the world is told, the world itself has to change.’ And that’s what we do as playwrights.’

Testament to Bock’s decision, Before the Meeting shines a powerful light on the healing and recovery process – on its complex, nuanced non-linearity and the revelations and drawbacks that those in recovery must navigate every day.

Behind the scenes

Adam Bock is a fascinating playwright, not just in the ideas he brings to the stage, but also in the way he applies his ideas and beliefs to the broader creative process.

Just as he explores in Before the Meeting itself, Bock spoke to the importance of working together rather than individually in a 2019 Williamstown Theatre Festival interview, reflecting on the close collaboration involved in bringing the work to the stage: ‘Theatre is wonderful, because we as a group make something – I didn’t make this [Before the Meeting], a group of us made this, and that’s what I’m excited about.’

Discussing further, Bock said, ‘If you know you’ve got good collaborators, suddenly I’m like, ‘I need to be a better writer, because these people are doing things and taking chances, and surprising me in ways that I can’t imagine’ – and that makes me want to surprise them.’

From a unique voice in contemporary playwriting, Before the Meeting is an extraordinary drama about ordinary lives. A sensation at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival, it had US audiences absolutely captivated in 2019, and we can’t wait to present the Australian premiere to you at the Seymour this month.


Image credit: Danielle Lyonne

5 May 2022

Don't miss the Australian premiere of White Box Theatre's Before the Meeting, an extraordinary drama about ordinary lives from acclaimed US playwright, Adam Bock.

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