Gaybies is on its way to being an important piece of theatre that shakes up stale and dull opinions. Opening at Midsumma, it’s singing show tunes with the choir, but there couldn’t be better and more fabulous audience to introduce this work to.
Created by music theatre director/creator Dean Bryant, Gaybies is the first work commissioned by the Midsumma festival, which has been celebrating queer culture for 25 years. With little time and resources, Bryant explored verbatim theatre – verbatim theatre recreates interviews (The Laramie Project is one of the more famous) – and interviewed people whose voices and stories aren’t always heard in the talkback radio screaming, media hoo ha and politician point scoring over what makes a family: children with one or more gay or lesbian parents.
If you’ve ever even thought “But what about the children?”, here’s the answer.
There’s the awkwardness of seeing your dad at a gay club, the unexplainable death of too many “uncles” in the 80s, surprising a teen boyfriend’s mum by explaining that drag queens taught you how to wear pantyhose and heels, and the “who cares!” attitude of friends when you out your mum – but it’s mostly stories about kids being kids and parents being parents. And I dare anyone to not relate to at least one story on the stage regardless of their gender, sexuality or attitude.
As the first time it’s been seen and having only gone into the rehearsal room this week, it’s presented as a semi-read work, but the scripts are noticeable for a few seconds and the books become part of the stage story. There’s heart and guts in every story told, but it’s Daniel Clarke’s gorgeous direction that brings shape and structure to the stage and the script (that’s still a bit rambly). With songs, a party table, craft, bubbles and compulsory glitter, he creates context and a reason for everyone to be and stay on the stage and to get up and share their story.
And bringing every bit of love they have to the stage, there’s a cast of local favourites who are all so lovely that no one can be singled out: Trevor Ashley, Virginia Gay, Brent Hill, Gareth Keegan, Kate Kendall, Todd McKenney, Emily Milledge, Ben Mingay, Christina O’Niell, Alex Rathgeber, Georgia Scott, Magda Szubanski, Rob Tripolino and Christie Whelan-Browne.
Gaybies is created to knock out intolerance, but it’s more a celebration of everyone who has faced even a hint of that intolerance in their lives and been left wondering or hurt at its ridiculousness. See it because you want to celebrate or just because it’s honest, beautiful and heartwarming. And it only runs until Saturday, so you really have to get organised now.
The Midsumma audiences are adoring this show, but to have the impact that it will have, it needs to get produced, supported and seen widely. I believe that dullness and intolerance can change with truth, so what about starting with performance at a full sitting of our federal parliament?