We chat to playwright and director Dean Bryant about the making of our 2015 season opener, Gaybies.
How did Gaybies come about?
Gaybies came about because I was asked to write something for Midsumma Festival’s 25th anniversary [in 2013] and I really wanted to be a part of that because it’s such a milestone.
Gay marriage was – still is – a hot topic in Australia. But I didn’t really want to come at it from a judicial or political point of view. So I thought, the main reason people bring up against gay marriage is, “What about the kids that come out of these relationships?” So I thought, why don’t I go to the kids of gay parents and interview them and find out how their lives have been and what it’s been like growing up.
What was the process you took to create Gaybies?
The process of creating Gaybies was a little bit scattershot because I wasn’t really sure how to get to people, so I kind of took a very relaxed approach and I asked people I knew first, then I asked people to refer people, then I went to Facebook and Twitter, and eventually it spread out and I got access to quite a lot of people, across Sydney and Melbourne especially. I interviewed about 40 people of all ages and wove their words into the script.
What was the interview process like?
I was a bit stressed by it beforehand because I thought, I’m going to have to ask some pretty personal questions and this is a fragile part of people’s lives. It’s vulnerable talking about your parents…always.
But it actually ended up being really easy to just tune in to the person and what sort of things they were comfortable talking about and just kind of weave my way through, so it’s kind of trying to find the story in someone’s life.
Did you find any common threads during the interviews?
The common thread of course is love. Most people love their parents. But I didn’t really come across anyone that hadn’t had a pretty great experience, especially in retrospect. They were very, very protective of their parents actually, which is probably the surprising thing that did come out of it – that these kids because of the politicisation of the issue, feel a great responsibility to show, “I love my parents and they raised me very well. I’ve always felt loved and don’t tell me that I wasn’t raised the right way”. So that makes it a very moving experience.
What do you think audiences will get out of Gaybies?
They’ll have a really fun time. It’s actually bizarrely funny. And the response from the audience we had in Melbourne was gales of laughter. And I think it’s just the authenticity of what verbatim theatre can do, when you know from the start that these are real people’s words and they have not been tampered with. So it’s very funny, and the authenticity means that it’s really moving, because these are real people’s experiences. But then you also have that slight distancing thing on top of it of wonderful, entertaining performers bringing it to life, so it kind of gets a polish, you get a bit of distance, you feel comfortable to laugh, you feel comfortable to cry, because it’s real people’s experiences but presented by brilliantly talented performers.
Photo: Dean Bryant and the cast of Gaybies (L-R): Olivia Rose, Georgia Scott, Steve Le Marquand,Zindzi Okenyo, Dean Bryant, Sheridan Harbridge, Cooper George Amai and Rhys Keir. Credit: Helen White
Posted 13 Jan 2015