Intersection, playing at the Australian Theatre for Young People, opens our eyes to the unique experiences of Australian youth. The collection of short plays was whittled down from submissions nationwide, a platform for young writers to display their work. They were given a broad task – to write a short play for young people – but common themes coursed through the presented work, giving it a sense of continuity. Themes included drugs, courting, and drinking, as you’d expect, but other pieces extended to painful topics like parental abuse, transexual bullying, suicide, and the most painful of all: moving on.
The performers, too, were young artists from Australia. Ranging from ages 15 to 24, they managed the scripts well under the direction of Katrina Douglas. Because of the age-range of the actors, you did get a sense of “acting” from some of the performers, who were hyper-aware of being watched and being on show. However, there were a handful of stand-out performances that created a real bit of magic and nostalgia (for oldies like me), whereas for the young audience members, it was a way to connect to art and realise themselves in the characters on stage.
Some of the most touching scripts dealt with new acquaintances. In Pray 4 Mojo, we discovered two different outcasts, bonding over a robot creation in their favourite deserted spot. The play highlighted how difficult it is to form friendships as a trans kid, having to fight your way to a place of trust. Another matched two unlikely teens forming a friendship despite a racial divide. Switching between teasing and defensiveness, they finally discarded their racial, family-learnt prejudices and agreed to go to the formal together.
All in all, this 90-minute show packed a lot of juicy gossip and growing-up stories into one enjoyable collection. Although some pieces would have benefited with more clarity, from a writing and acting perspective, I came away with a strong sense that the ATYP achieved exactly what they set out to do: to create an attractive piece of theatre for young audiences.
By Ranga Liliu