Actor Mark Stanley speaks with The Echo in the lead-up to his performance in the show 24 Ways to say I’m Gay at Glitter Festival at the Gold Coast Arts Centre.
If you could have dinner with anyone it would be…
My wife’s mother. She died before we met and married so I never got the chance to meet her in person.
What do you love most about yourself?
My sense of humour – although I’m sure it also gets me into trouble at times as well.
What has your personal experience been in regard to the themes of 24 Ways to Say I’m Gay?
I am a straight man – married with two young kids. In saying that, I have seen my dad hide his sexuality for most of his life before coming out. For him, during the 1970s he was so fearful of society’s view on his sexuality and how it could impact on his life that he decided to hide it away. It was not until the late 1990s that he came out. For him, being judged and the impact on his career and life at the time was his biggest fear. The spoken words obviously did lead to shock at the time, but reaction from some family members was his biggest struggle. The slurs, ridicule and talk of who’s fault it was did take their toll, only made easier owing to the fact he was working away from home. In the end, time heals all wounds and the family has again become one, and the acceptance now also extends to his partner as well.
What kind of Australia would you like to live in?
I believe we are lucky and Australia will always be a great place to live. I would love to see one where we communicate more face to face than through social media. This is a place that I believe the most cowardly, bigoted, racist or sexual discrimination attacks take place. I would love to see the technology used more for education than discrimination and thus creating a better Australia for all.
What is the most fabulous show you’ve ever seen?
Tough one. There have been many great shows I have been an audience member of. The most memorable show for me was La Boheme at the Lyric Theatre 1990. I played a small role as a street urchin. This was the role that got me ‘hooked’ with the performing bug. I have been a part of the entertainment and tourism industry ever since.
If you could art-direct Australia Day, what would happen?
What a great question! For me, I love creating work that helps bring people together through a sense of joy and celebration. A day where people cannot just celebrate, but also walk away with a greater sense of pride and unity.
I feel like we’ve moved a long way, but then the plebiscite thing happens and it feels like the state is getting way too involved in people’s personal affairs… How does it feel to you?
This is really becoming a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, for me a no-brainer. Everyone should be able to live their lives with whomever they choose. The biggest frustration is not the waste of money and lack of direction with the government on the issue; it is the fact that there is still a debate to be had!
Tell me a little about your show.
It’s not just about coming out; that is but one step in the journey. The play takes the audience on a sometimes humorous, sometimes confronting look at what it actually means to be gay.
What inspired you to get it together?
What I admire the most about the gay community is the way they face the challenges that our society can throw at them with a huge amount of humour. When you look at the original meaning of the word gay – carefree, happy, bright – I think the gay community truly represent this. This is what 24 Ways to Say I’m Gay is all about to me.
What should we expect for your show at Glitter Festival?
The show is an abridged version of award-winning Australian playwright Wayne Tunks’s play 37 Ways to Say I’m Gay. We have reworked this great piece of Aussie theatre into just an hour-long Glitter Festival length. Eight actors, 55 characters, 17 short stories, one heart-warming show.
Glitter Festival, embracing diversity and encouraging freedom of expression! 6–9 October. For program information go to theartscentregc.com.au/glitterfestival-2016.