Monday 18 January 2016

Fraternal - Midsumma Festival preview

Everyone is on the hunt for their soulmate, the one person who completely understands you, who you can be utterly open to and who manages to steal your heart. It may be romanticism to the extreme yet we all seek it. In Fraternal, Darcy and Kent have found that with each other, despite the fact they are brothers. Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival, Fraternal looks at a topic considered taboo and asks us to regard this love as a legitimate love.

"Incest is one of those taboos that no one really seems intent to discuss or explore. It’s one of
those topics that we’ve all kind of relegated to the shadows, intent to leave it there for good. This just makes any subject matter vastly more attractive to write about," explains playwright Jake Stewart. "A more pertinent reason that the play’s been written, is the fact that there are people out there living this way. Consenting, responsible adults are out there living in relationships like this, and their experiences are unique, and their struggles are legitimate, and the stage is a perfect place for stories like theirs. The theatre is a place to incite conversations that are trickier and more complex and harder to stomach than the ones you may have over coffee."

"When it comes to telling a story about something as confronting and controversial as incest, you can’t romanticise it, and you can’t shy away from it, because either way would be dishonest. And we’re asking for a lot of trust and open-mindedness from the people that come along to see the show – they’ve decided they’re willing to consider a point of view that they may never have seen as a valid one. They’re willing to consider a point of view that many believe to be morally, humanistically, and inherently abhorrent. A theatergoer like that needs to be taken seriously, and treated to something honest, rigorous and worthwhile."

Apart from asking the audience to consider this, I wondered what the rehearsal process with its two leads - Dominic Weintraub and Elliot Roberts - was like, and how Stewart got these two actors to prepare for their roles. "We started out with a lot of conversations. The whole cast did in fact, and we needed to. After reading the script for the first time, we had to sit down together and just make sure that we were cool with telling this story," he explains. "As for Dominic and Elliot, before we even got to them doing anything, it was about working out all the ways that these characters behave like brothers, and understanding the simple ways that they were lovers, and answering questions like, ‘At what age do brothers stop holding hands?’ They have been rather admirably brave throughout this process. Fraternal asks a lot of them and they deliver." 

Despite the controversy of Fraternal, Stewart is very keen to have audiences come along and experience something different to the usual shows being performed. "I’m really excited to hear what audiences think after the show and also to know why they came in the first place. A few of my friends are trying to rustle up theatre companions to come see it, but their invitations to a ‘play about gay incest’ apparently keep getting met with perplexed-looking emojis, and gifs of the mother from Arrested Development! Stewart laughs. "But I’m mighty excited for this show to have an audience. It’s certainly not a play with an aggressive opinion, it just offers a unique perspective on the mechanics present within their romantic, sexual, incestuous relationship."

Venue: Bluestone Church Arts Space, 10A Hyde St, Footscray, 3011
Season: 22 January - 5 February | 7pm daily excluding 24, 26, 31 January & 2, 3 February
Tickets: $24 Full | $18 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival

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