Interview: Safari Street Creative

Spencer Scholz shares the concept behind the theatre company's latest dark comedy

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 3 minutes
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Stabbing the Ghost image courtesy of Safari Street Creative
Published 07 Feb 2024

If all the world’s a stage, all its people are playing the journalist. Citizen content creation is at an all-time high, and it is challenging the very definition of ‘truth’ in the media.

It’s an issue that intrigues Spencer Scholz, who co-founded local theatre company Safari Street Creative with his partner Sam Riley. Scholz says their latest theatre production, Stabbing The Ghost, is based on the idea of how we define truth in the current media landscape.

“I always wanted to write something about the media and how it works today compared to what it might have been like 50 years ago,” he says.

“Nowadays, we’re all kind of journalists because of our access to social media. [Stabbing The Ghost] is based around the idea of what journalism and media has become to compete with the rise of social media and content creators.”

Scholz points out that newsrooms are shrinking; the once-bustling spaces now more closely resemble ghost towns, with publications cutting staff and relying more on freelance writers.

And, in their constant battle to be heard among the millions of voices on social media, some journalists are prioritising engagement over substance when it comes to making content. “Stabbing The Ghost is really looking at these journalists and content creators who are jaded and more oriented towards the networking side of things… that element of journalism can be all-consuming and pull you [away] from its creative and fulfilling elements."

The two-person play, acted by Scholz and Riley, features journalist Owen confronting ghostwriter Tahlia, who has been brought in to re-write one of Owen’s pieces. “It basically starts a cat and mouse game between the two of them as to why she’s there to rewrite it,” Scholz says.

While there’s no actual ghost in the production there’s plenty of figurative ghost-stabbing to be had. “There’s the more figurative meaning that Tahlia is a ghostwriter and Owen is attacking the ghostwriter, or ‘stabbing the ghost’. But also, it’s the sense that Owen’s writing a piece which is about a surface level issue. He’s creating outrage rather than getting to the solution of the problem… stabbing the ghost is the idea of attacking issues that aren’t necessarily there.”

Social media has indeed turned into a battle of who can shout the loudest and angriest. For Scholz, the masses of ‘outrage culture’ content we consume daily are making us apathetic towards important causes. “Media [has become] more about consuming the outrage or the issue rather than actually doing something about it,” he says. “How can we navigate solutions when there is so much content, when we see so much of it to the point we become apathetic towards it?”

As for an answer, Scholz wants the audience to decide for themselves how they perceive truth and ethics in the media. “When I write characters, particularly two-handers like this, I like to let them embody different sides of the argument,” he says. “Both characters [disagree about] what we should be keeping private and what we should be putting out into the public realm, in terms of how we perceive truth in the media.

“The audience can pull out different sides of the argument and see where they sit at the end of it, which is the joy of writing shows like this.”


Stabbing the Ghost, Holden Street Theatres, until 3 March