The issue with a piece of theatre based on a true story that happened a year ago, about a subject that divides the nation, is that it happened a year ago. And it divides the nation.
By it’s very nature people care so very much at the time and then life inches in and, inevitably, they care less. There’s no point getting stuck in a groove, endlessly playing and replaying the same story, because the feelings we felt so keenly quickly become mere memories of the emotions we felt at the time. Which is a good thing, as that’s exactly what helps us cope with the world on a day to day basis. It’s what ensured my 11 year old son got on with his life, so, a good thing.
However it’s NOT a good thing when you’re developing a piece of theatre about it. Because as you, the audience, are sitting there trying to care, waiting to see if what I present makes you care, a voice inside your head might be saying ‘does it still matter?’
Does it still matter?
Since the initial bog, many, many questions and discussions have been raised about how young people (as young as 8, I’ve done my research and spoken to real, live young people about this) are accessing and consuming disturbing porn, how they are getting their sex education from the internet, how this is affecting real relationships for a generation growing up unsure of the boundaries because they’re seeing films and images before they’re discussing what’s real and what’s not, they’re beginning physical relationships with each other without having the confidence or the vocabulary to articulate what feels good and what feels wrong to them. Boys are under pressure to perform, girls are under pressure to perform, both tell me they want to be allowed to make mistakes, both tell me they want to be able to talk to each other, lots of teenagers tell me they have had no context for the stuff they’ve watched and just want to be able to talk openly about it with people who won’t judge them. They can make their own mistakes from there on in, thanks.
It does still matter. I just need to find a way to write it so it opens doors on the subject rather than invites spectators to judge the material… But that’s what you do when you make theatre for the public I suppose.
The Arts Council gave me a grant. Lots of people have supported and added to the journey. We’re about to present an extract at an Industry Showcase at the Lowry on Wednesday 30th April, and all I want to do is sit down and have a proper talk with the audience about the debt we owe to this generation growing up so fucking confused about this most basic of human needs.
But that would be boring and I’d probably get called *Mary Whitehouse again and I’m supposed to be making theatre.
*Sex and porn are not the same thing. Even Mary knew that.