The Official Dire Theatre Company response to the issues put forward to the Legislative Council on the 22nd June, 2022, and the media coverage that followed.
For your consideration...
Hang tight and strap in for an official response from me, Adam O'Brien, Artistic Director of The Dire Theatre Company, to the recent controversy surrounding one of our performances.
All the relevant links to news articles and official parliamentary documents are at the end of my rant. I hope you read and I hope in my heart of hearts, whatever your views, that you continue to respect and honour our public schools, our young people, and our educational administrators. Here we go...
It’s there in The Dire Theatre Company’s call. It’s always been there. It’s the cry upon which our Pack was formed. It’s been there in our hearts and on our lips, in our minds and in our actions, since the day we started. In every newly supported independent work. In every discounted school incursion. In every arts festival, and youth performance initiative, in every open community gallery and in every inclusive performance project. In every academic conference. In every supported comedy night and poetry slam. In every paid actor and in every single one of our companies’ members, it has always been there. It’s our cry and our creed and our why we make art.
Incite Change. Without Fear.
I refer to the article in todays Daily Telegraph and the question(s) posited by Mark Latham to The Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC on the 22nd of June in the Legislative Council.
I had promised not to ramble in my response to Mr. Latham’s entirely self-serving dog whistle of a question to The Hon. Sarah Mitchell in the Legislative Council on the 22nd of June at 12:20pm, and I won’t. I hope that you consider all sides of this issue and draw your own conclusions.
I will however say this;
Mark Latham has abused his power and station and in his attempt to appear heroic, he has inspired The Daily Telegraph to weaponize the word ‘Lesbian’. How dare he. How dare The Daily Telegraph. How dare they attempt to pervert that word and twist it, deform it, mutate it, into a slur and then attempt to use it to demonize the arts in education, the initiative of our over worked and underpaid passionate public schools, young people’s rights to reality and art, and the LGBTQIA+ community itself.
The Daily Telegraph has, additionally, cowering behind blustering accusations of ‘wokeness’, attempted to exploit and capitalize on the defamation of generous and dedicated staff of a brilliantly diverse and admirably passionate public school, to purport issues of dangerous sexuality, homosexuality, and public education degradation.
Both Latham and The Daily Telegraph have loaded in to their canons the children who saw our performance, and they have shot them, point blank, in to a wall in the hope that they can scrape some political clout off the floor in the aftermath.
For never was a story of more woe.
The Dire Theatre Company has been accused of being instrumental in sexualizing schools. The Dire Theatre Company, it is safe to say, has been accused of promoting a homosexual agenda.
The Dire Theatre Company does not know what a homosexual agenda is, however if it’s out there and is reading this, hit us up, we support, encourage, love, and welcome all agendas centered on love.
The Dire Theatre Company has one agenda and one only: To use art in all of its iterations to incite social change, without fear. That’s it. We promote art that incites discussion around social change.
Albeit not in the way we had imagined, pertaining to the case in question, mission accomplished.
Our school incursion project’s mission is to attend schools where students may otherwise not have the chance or resources to experience live theatre, and to present professional productions to them that relate to the curriculum dictated texts they are obliged to study. We generally do this at a discounted rate depending on the school’s financial capacity. We work to the motto that “It’s better to be played then to be paid”.
Our work is not gendered or sexualised in the way that Mr. Latham and The Daily Telegraph would try to convince you. Our work is beyond that. Our work transcends the trappings of ridiculous, misplaced labels, because our work exists in a realm above that; the realm of young people and education. The realm of honesty.
The capable and caring minds of the schools administrative and academic staff competently curated a special interactive event for their students. They are heroes. They are passion and intelligence. They are educators. They are not, as Mr. Latham has insinuated, incompetent administrators and proponents of dangerous, culturally degenerative lifestyles.
Art and education are not up for debate. In this instance here, the School, The Dire, and more and most importantly the brilliant students (especially my mate at the back of the auditorium), were not, on the day in question, concerned with gender or sexuality politics, or who should love who, or what does and does not constitute a reasonable and acceptable relationship. We weren’t concerned with religious and ethical conundrums that require deep and immediate reflection. We were all instead concerned with the cool as shit sword fights, the stage blood and funny speech, and compelling stories; the passionate performances and funny sight gags, and, in the case of the students especially (and probably teachers), two essentially free periods.
I have contacted Mr. Latham’s office, and the office of The Hon. Sarah Mitchell and hope they do respond to my requests to begin a conversation around the main themes described above.
I have also contacted, and will continue to contact media organisations and groups that can help propel this story in to the sight of change makers, and I genuinely hope within my heart of hearts that they take note and contact us.
If you want to join the conversation, contact us too.
I will be contacting more ministers and more media as time goes by, not because I enjoy redundant controversy, but because I believe in fairness and honesty. I believe in accessibility and equality. I believe in art and education. I believe in the young people of this country and their ability to have a say in their futures. I believe that public educators are super heroes. I believe in art. I believe in that particular school. I believe in responsible and reasonable discourse, and most of all I believe I will continue to, as I implore you too as well; Incite Change. Without Fear.
To the appropriate parties, I am Adam O’Brien of The Dire Theatre Company, and I expect you to show up.