THAT'S SO GAY
Writers: Ellen Aiken, Jessica Thomas, Caitlin Rabel, Isla Doidge,
Devisers - All of the cast alongside Carrie Green, Andrew Paterson, Kenneth Gaffney
Director/Co-Producer: Toni Regan
Producer: Anny da Silva Freitas
at BATS, Wellington
From 26 Apr 2012 to 28 Apr 2012
[30 mins + 30 mins discussion time]
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, 30 Apr 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post
Although coming out for gay and lesbians has become progressively easier over the years, especially for young people, homophobia still abounds, especially in institutions such as schools. That prejudice and put downs still exist in these environments is clearly evident from the That's So Gay group whose play of the same title is playing early evenings at BATS Theatre.
The production is a collaborative work between young people from School's Out, Wellington, and students from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School under the direction of Master of Theatre Arts in Directing at Toi Whakaari, Toni Regan.
Starting from the premise that the pejorative use of “that's so gay” by young people in everyday language was as an all-embracing put down, the group gathered together 13 young gay and lesbian's to share their stories and experiences. What came out was that “being gay is not dumb or stupid” and that identity and “who I am” were key to many of these young people's experiences.
From these stories they chose 18 moments as the basis of their production, and devised ways of expressing each through the medium of theatre, to not only to share with an audience but with themselves.
Like many devised works some aspects of the production work better than others but the creative and innovative way in which they presented these moments using a minimum of props and costumes was engaging and often thought provoking even if the meaning of some were lost through their brevity.
The cast of 6; Harriet Lane Tobin , Harlyn Wilkinson , Joanna Jackson, Keith Labad, Isla Findlay and Anny da Silva Freitas all showed they identified with the subject matter and performed with energy even though at times some were a little inarticulate and the background music often drowned out the dialogue.
Particularly telling was Torn; being excluded after coming out and then in contrast was the comic birthday party in Gay Day. On line prejudice through the vagaries of Facebook was of course included in one of the moments and the horrors of a straight guy picking up a girl who was in fact a guy in drag in Ellie Kitten was funny and telling.
Through these moments it was made obvious that prejudice to gay and lesbians' is still, unfortunately, alive and well even today, but the courage of this group to stand up and be counted and to use theatre as a vehicle to tell their stories is to be applauded.
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