Exploring the personality-shaping notions of adolescence
This article is from 2009.
Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal is a study of and search for reality. Following a group of teenage girls as they attempt to navigate adolescence with its attendant agonies and anxieties, it delves into the labyrinthine and precarious relationship between life and performance. ‘I think that adolescence is the time when a person really becomes their own audience for the first time,’ says Catton. ‘It’s the time when genuine self-consciousness sets in, and the time when a person begins to think about actively shaping their own personality. I’m pretty sure that I was about 12 or 13 when I first felt like I was a witness to myself, and a critic of myself. So that chimed with the ideas of performance and performativity which were knocking around my head. It seemed natural to use adolescence as a kind of canvas or stage on which to explore those ideas.’
Canada-born Catton admits to not looking too far ahead and refusing to set the novel’s plan in stone. ‘The one relationship which was present in the story from the first draft – and probably the emotional connection which I feel the most strongly about – was the attraction between Julia and Isolde. That, for me, is the one moment of truth in the book, the one kernel of truthfulness and authenticity that all the other characters are trying to find.’