Thursday, January 17, 2013

[Australia] - Drama highlights Stories of Gaybies - ABC - Conor Duffy

Conor Duffy from the ABC's 7.30 Report, reports on a new play at the MTC (Melbourne Theartre Company) which tells the story of Australian families where one or more parent is GLBTI.  The play is currently running as part of the Midsumma Festival from January 15 to 19 (Details here)

[Source: Original Transcript and Video]

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: A new play at the Melbourne Theatre Company is telling the story of Australian families with one or more gay parent. 

Based on dozens of hours of interviews with children young and grown up the show aims to give an authentic account of family life behind closed doors.

Conor Duffy reports.

MAEVE MARSDEN: Any lesbian or gay parent will face prejudice, without a doubt. Yeah. They had some hard times with medical professionals.


MAEVE MARSDEN: Had hard times - yeah, doctors saying things...

CONOR DUFFY, REPORTER: In a cafe tucked away in Sydney's CBD, Maeve Marsden is recounting her childhood growing up with two mums.

MAEVE MARSDEN: And she wrote home to tell her parents that she'd fallen in love with a woman.

CONOR DUFFY: She is being interviewed by writer Dean Bryant who is collecting stories for a play on what is becoming an increasingly common Australian family.

MAEVE MARSDEN: They had hard times sometimes with the school system and they had a court case against a health insurance company about whether or not we could be recognised as a family.

CONOR DUFFY: The aim is to reflect stories like Maeve Marsden's authentically and make a new contribution to a contentious debate.

MAEVE MARSDEN: A lot of us have been in these families for years but not really had our voices heard, in part because we were children and also because times change and different issues come to light. And I think that in all of the debate we are hearing from parents, we're hearing from the Christian or right wing lobby, we're not actually hearing from the children.

DEAN BRYANT: They have interviewed around 30 people all around the country and asked them what their experiences of, were like growing up with a gay parent. It is a whole range of different gay parents. There is lesbian mums, there's dads who came out when they were growing up, there's a gay couple that have fostered kids.

(workshopping with colleagues) What they're filming for the interview is exactly what we were doing at the table.

CONOR DUFFY: At this rehearsal Dean Bryant is briefing television personality Todd McKenney on one of the characters he will bring to life.

TODD MCKENNEY: Every time I hear that argument, what about the kids, I just want to explode. It is so unfair. I mean, how (bleep) well adjusted are your kids?

CONOR DUFFY: The style is known as verbatim theatre and involves using the answers from interviews completely faithfully.

TODD MCKENNEY: (workshopping) I love the way you put this. 

(to reporter) I'm a gay father of a little five and a half year old girl so I wanted to see what other kids who grew up in that environment, what they thought. And you get a variety of different approaches and different ways that they have been affected and it is kind of a bit of a learning experience for me.

(workshopping) It is damaging. It's one of those horrible lies... 

CONOR DUFFY: Todd McKenney hopes the performances and real life stories will show that children of gay parents are just as well adjusted as any other.

TODD MCKENNEY: I think this isn't a bit of fluff. I think this is a really valuable piece of story-telling but fact and it is reality. This is reality. Love it or hate it, agree with gay marriage or don't agree with gay marriage, agree with gay parenting, don't agree with gay parenting but this is reality. It's out there, we're out there, we're going to be out there forever. Deal with it.

ACTOR: Making a mess, chaos, fairy bread, bubbles...

CONOR DUFFY: When the whole cast meets in Melbourne for a final rehearsal, the script and set have taken shape.

A children's birthday party is used to tell the stories of the younger kids interviewed for the play, some were as young as four.

ACTOR AS CHILD: I live here with William and my mummy and mum.

SECOND ACTOR AS CHILD: In my family is my two mums, my brother Solomon and me. 

THIRD ACTOR AS CHILD: It's annoying having a little brother. Luckily I have a gate in my room.

CONOR DUFFY: Like the other actors, well known comedian Magda Szubanski is performing for free. She came out last year and plays a young girl whose parents have divorced. 

MAGDA SZUBANSKI, ACTOR: (acting) Gay people are pretty much people as well.

(to reporter) One of the things that people always throw into the mix is the, sort of, the idea of will the kids be all right? But what this is about, it's verbatim scripts taken from actual gay, children of gay partnerships, and really what it shows is that the gay children are pretty much just have the same challenges as every other child.

CONOR DUFFY: Her character's mother gets divorced and decides to have a child with her new lesbian partner. 

MAGDA SZUBANSKI, ACTOR: (acting) At the start of high school it was a little difficult telling people. They were making gay jokes and stuff. Some people were like, "You're guy and stuff" and I just ignore it because it is something you can, you know, it's not something you can completely stop. People say, "You're a lesbian because your mum's a lesbian." And I'm like, "I don't know."


CONOR DUFFY: As the story shifts to grown up children the birthday scene is replaced by a dinner party. 

One of the show's young stars, Georgia Scott, contributed to the script, speaking about her experience of her father coming out.

Instead of playing herself, she takes the character of a young woman in a heterosexual relationship who accepts but questions her gay mother's circle. 

GEORGIA SCOTT, ACTOR: (acting) I did find that a little bit secluding I have to say. I found it a little bit closed off which I just, I just found that interesting. And there were times here and there when I was like, "All you do is associate in gay scenarios. You don't go out and do anything else. How come?"

(to reporter) There is always a lot of hype around what people assume or what people can philosophise is going to be the effects of gay parenting on children and so it is like a genuine look at how these people have lived and what their experience has been. And you know, it is not sugar coated and it's not all great.

LEIGH SALES: Conor Duffy reporting. That's the program for tonight.

[Source: Original Transcript and Video]

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