Shining the light on a society that has seemingly lost its way in dealing with its troubled youth, New Theatre presents from 24 March, a long-overdue revival of Lachlan Philpott’s award-winning contemporary Australian play, Silent Disco.
Tamara is 15. Rejected by her mother, who’s moved on to a new relationship, she’s forced to live (and cope) with her embittered father, a man harbouring a secret that will deeply impact their lives. Her very-new boyfriend’s mother has also shot through, his older brother is in prison for drug-dealing, and he lives with his aunty.
For Tamara and Squid, being in love is their escape from the brutal reality of their lives. But it’s hard for a teenager to make meaningful relationships when they’ve never seen them modeled by the adults in their lives. Only their teacher, Mrs Petchell, seems to care about what happens to them, but it’s a battle for her to keep another year of students from slipping through the cracks.
Illuminating a world of disenfranchised Sydney teens, of absent mothers, missing fathers, and struggling teachers, Silent Disco reveals a society that has seemingly lost its way in dealing with its troubled youth.
“The New played a really important role in supporting me as an emerging writer and it’s terrific to have my work on their stage in this fresh production, directed by Johann Walraven, said writer Lachlan Philpott. “I wrote Silent Disco in 2009 after working as a teacher in an inner city high school. It was a time when iPod’s were very popular and of course teachers were battling to be heard over far more interesting soundtracks.”
“The play is inspired by a moment when I witnessed two teenagers together in a silent disco*. They danced intimately and then something exploded between them and they fought while everyone else kept moving to their own beat. At the heart of the play is a story of first love and the struggles that young people have making meaningful relationships when they have never had them modeled.”
Lachlan Philpott is an award-winning theatre writer, director and teacher. His works include Bison, Bustown, Catapult, The Chosen, Colder, Due Monday, Lake Disappointment, Little Emperors, M. Rock, Michael Swordfish, Silent Disco, Truck Stop, and The Trouble with Harry. He was the inaugural Australian Professional Playwright Fulbright Scholar and Chair of the Australian Writer’s Guild Playwrights’ Committee between 2012 and 2015.
“here’s a new Australian play well worth wagging school for – unstuffy, engaging theatre that doesn’t feel like homework,” – Time Out
Director: Johann Walraven Featuring: Deborah Galanos, Badaidilaga Maftuh-Flynn, Natasha McNamara, Brendan Miles, Tom Misa, Gemma Scoble Set & Costume Designer: Ester Karuso-Thurn Lighting Designer: Liam O’Keefe Sound Designer: Jessica Dunn Assistant Director & Choreographer: Charlene Blackshaw-Bennett Production Manager/Stage Manager/Operator: Kianah Nelson
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 24 March – 14 April 2018 (preview: 22 March)
Information and Bookings: www.newtheatre.org.au
Image: courtesy of New Theatre
Notes: *Silent disco – an event at which people dance to music that is transmitted through wireless headphones rather than played over a speaker system.
**In the original script (and the subsequent production at Griffin Theatre), Squid and his family were Indigenous. Despite an exhaustive search, New Theatre was unable to find Aboriginal actors for these roles.
After discussions with Philpott, who agreed that the play’s concerns are universal, we widened the search to include actors of any non-Anglo background. Our cast reflects the diversity of Sydney’s community, with the role of Squid and his half-brother played by actors of Asian and Samoan descent – Philpott is reworking the script to address this.