10 September 2011

Review: Tenderness

Tenderness
Platform Youth Theatre and Footscray Community Arts Centre in association with A.R.A.B
4 September 2011
Footscray Community Arts Centre
to 11 September


I wish I were shocked by the anger, violence and cruelty of Tenderness. I'm horrified that any 12-year-old girl would shave her public hair and lose her virginity to a 16-year-old or that any teenager will punch until bones crunch, but it's too easy to understand why when the impact of words like "ugly" and "slut" never seems to change.

Platform Youth Theatre create striking theatre that is led by the perspectives and voices of young people, and finished and strengthened by the experience of professional artists.

Tenderness is two short plays, Ugly by Christos Tsiolkas (The Slap etc) and Slut by Patricia Cornelius (Do not go gentle... etc). Commissioned in 2007, both were researched with young people in the northern suburbs and have undergone creative development presentations that have left them with authentic raw and angry young voices, without the implied judgment or now-I-know-betterness of the older writers.

Working with a remarkable young cast (Matt Hickey, Stephanie Capiron, Rebecca Mazel, Peta Sergeant) and Kelly Ryall's emotive score, director Nadja Kostich (Bare Witness) uses a constant and dangerous physicality that lets the scripts confront, scream and punch to show the vulnerability of these young people who see the world as ugly and pretend that they don't care.

As adults we can re-embrace words, take part in Slut Walk and happily have as much wild, skanky and consenting sex as we like, but do we or should we apply the same openness to promiscuous teenagers? I wish that everyone who has ever referred to a child as a slut (especially "journalists" and talk-back radio scum) could be made to see this play every time they throw such powerful words about.

Tenderness is the first work in the new performance space at the wonderful Footscray Community Arts Centre, and if this stark reminder of how little tenderness some teenagers have in their lives is setting the standard for what we will see in this space, it hope it will soon be one of Melbourne's favourite spaces


This review originally appeared on AussieThearte.com


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