Directed by Iain Sinclair
The Wharf Theatre
Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Season: 3 – 20 February
ATYP’s The Voices Project has been running since 2011, supporting young writers to develop 7-minute monologues for 17-year-old actors, and then showcasing their writing through performance. Finally, in 2016, The Voices Project comes to a close. Each year has produced wonderful results, and is focused on an intertwining theme. Appropriately, this year incorporates ‘departures’ into the works, its title citing the phrase ‘All Good Things – must come to an end’. This year is no exception to the fabulous work unveiled each year, with a vast array of stories being told, igniting hilarity, melancholy, and everything in between.
Sometimes the voice of young people can be suppressed – disregarded as too young, naïve or ‘entitled’ – and the experience of young people can consequently become monolithic. As ‘adults’ insist on speaking for young people instead of amplifying younger voices, there can sometimes be a tendency to simplify and eliminate nuances from the group as a whole. ATYP fights against this tendency, championing the voice of young people through artistic expression. In this show, the result is a brilliant diversity in the stories showcased, emphasising the wide-reaching spectrum of experience by Australian young people. We meet a boy in a changing room with a stealing habit, a student in an HSC exam room, a drunk girl at a party rambling about her boyfriend and a country kid with big dreams – along with many other interesting characters. And sure, these sound like relatively mundane situations for kids these days, but each figure we meet is grappling with his or her own private struggles, some more obvious than others. The respective writers have created unique works rich with subtlety, and you wish many of the stories didn’t end so quickly.
Iain Sinclair’s deft direction ties together the pieces from every colour on the spectrum, seamlessly transitioning physically and emotionally between stories. Jonas Thompson performs a shimmering comedic piece, The Fuzz, written by Kirby Medway, bringing a whole new perspective to the stage on the dire importance of facial hair. A cracker of a monologue, Thompson reads the audience superbly to audible acclaim. Rachel O’Regan’s piece, Red Bull, cleverly manipulates black comedy to highlight pertinent issues in the HSC-obsessed culture that bombards the final year of high school. May Tran performs this monologue with skill, navigating both the humour and seriousness innate to the issue at hand. Gemma Neall’s monologue, Nice, is a prime example of excellent written subtlety, as a seemingly superficial character slowly reveals a darker underside to her story, portrayed by Sarah Meacham. Moreblessing Maturure performs Callum McLean’s piece, Changing Room, with a wondrous fire in her belly. She conveys a boy’s exasperation with a stranger’s indignant gendered response to him in the shop each week, as he proceeds to act on his shoplifting habit. I can mention only a few of the stories told and the people met throughout the work – to experience it fully, you clearly have to see the show for yourself.
We are reassured that ATYP has not finished supporting young playwrights, and a new program is being developed to assist the creation of new works – just in a different form to The Voices Project. I am delighted to see what will come next, as ATYP will continue to spark new interests, kick start fledgling careers and ignite new passions – I am sure.