Theatre | Sex, shame and blame | Ken Longworth

THE CAST: From left, Rosie Gately, Emma Gilmore, Kate Wooden, Mia Sifflet, Evie Laurence, Bianca Whereat and Emily Barber. Photo: Jo Roberts
THE CAST: From left, Rosie Gately, Emma Gilmore, Kate Wooden, Mia Sifflet, Evie Laurence, Bianca Whereat and Emily Barber. Photo: Jo Roberts

GIRLS discovering their sexuality as they enter the teens often find themselves referred to as a ‘slut’ as a result of their relationships with boys, sometimes in a derogatory manner and at other times jokingly.

The concern of teenage girls in and around New York about the use of the term led to the development of a theatre work, Slut: The Play, drawn from the experiences of many of them. And, while some people might see the title as off-putting, the play has been continuously staged in the United States since it premiered at an international theatre festival in 2013, with companies in other countries, including Australia, putting it on in the past year.

Hunter Drama founder Daniel Stoddart saw the work while in New York in 2016 and bought a copy of the play. It is appropriately the first production being staged in Hunter Drama’s new venue, the Young Actor’s Development Centre, in Broadmeadow, with four performances between November 9 and 11.

Slut: The Play has a cast of seven girls aged 15 to 18, with Emily Daly as director. Mia Sifflet, 17, plays the central character, 16-year-old Joanna Del Barco, known as Joey, who is sexually assaulted by two male friends when they are partying. But while the boys are subsequently arrested, it is Joey who cops the most criticism, with people making comments such as “She was drunk and out of control”. These glimpses of community members’ responses, largely made through social media, are mainly shown through projections.

Emily Daly says the recent revelations of the treatment of women by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and comments about what happened shows how relevant the play is, and why Katie Cappiello, a New York theatre artist and social activist, put it together after talking to many teen girls.

The 60-minute play is generally followed by audience discussion.

Mia Sifflet, who is on stage for the whole of the play, said that a lot of her friends had experienced some of the things shown in the play, such as being called a slut for just hanging out with a guy.

“The word slut is also used as an insult,” she said.   

The other six actors - Rosie Gately, Emma Gilmore, Kate Wooden, Evie Laurence, Bianca Whereat, and Emily Barber – play characters including Joey’s best friend, the twin sister of one of the boys who assaulted her, and a friend who is involved with an assaulter.

Slut: The Play has performances nightly from Thursday, November 9, to Saturday, November 11, at 8pm, and a 2pm Saturday show. The Young Actor’s Development Centre is at 74 Brunker Road, Broadmeadow.

Tickets, $20, can be bought through Trybooking.