Stef Smith's Swallow is a play about three women dealing with psychological trauma, and striving for a fresh start in life. It was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 9 August 2015 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it received a Scotsman Fringe First Award
The play's action takes place in the subjective worlds of its three female characters, which occasionally overlap, their monologues resolving into dialogue. 'There are no stage directions, imagine it as you wish.' Anna hasn’t left home for months; she has stopped eating and is smashing her flat up bit by bit. Rebecca is so furious that her ex-partner has found a new love that she turns that anger on herself. Sam is taking her first steps towards becoming the man she feels herself to be; in doing so, she exposes herself not only to abuse but to the chance of genuine warmth and affection.
In a foreword to the published script, Smith writes: 'The first draft of the play was written quickly and intensely, it just poured out onto the page. It was a play born of my absolute anger and anxiety that the world wasn’t the place I felt it could be. ... I’ve never doubted that we all wrestle with the chaos of deep, dark, hard things. We behave badly, drink too much, sleep too little, punch walls or pull our bodies apart. Rarely are we given the healthy tools that enable us to deal with this chaos. And yet, and yet, deal with it we do – we still get up the next day. And that’s one of the main things that Swallow looks at – the chaotic ways in which we continue.'
The Traverse premiere was directed by Traverse Artistic Director Orla O’Loughlin and designed by Fred Meller, with original music by LAWholt. It was performed by Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Sam, Anita Vettesse as Rebecca and Emily Wachter as Anna.