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January 28, 2021

Interview with Byron Youth Theatre

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Byron Youth Theatre are under your thumb

Under Your Thumb

The Brunswick Picture House  |  Thursday 28 November  |  6.45pm (6pm for food and drinks)  |  $15 at the door or online 

The Byron Youth Theatre has taken on the serious theme of abuse, for their upcoming show Under Your Thumb. Director Lisa Apostolides shared some insights with The Echo into the production, which opens on Thursday 28 November at the Brunswick Picture House.

Tell me about the themes for Under Your Thumb ?

By using a vignette style production for Under Your Thumb we are able to cover a variety of issues, focused on abuse encountered in intimate teenage relationships. This was nominated by youth audiences from our previous production. The main themes take a look at physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse. We are extremely grateful to NRCF and CASP Regional Arts NSW for funding this production.

How do young people experience abuse? Has social media made them more vulnerable?

Social media has definitely had an impact. Sexting, nudes, access to porn and the psychological impact of never ending choices, stimulation and constant comparison has led many young people to become disconnected from what constitutes a healthy relationship.

What are some of the stories you used to work up the show?

Our research revealed many different stories and statistics about issues of abuse experienced by young people. We deeply appreciate those who confidentially shared their personal experiences. The #Metoo movement had an influence on the production, as did Time’s Up. A big thank you to Jenelle and Ambyr from the Women’s Resource Service (Mullum Neighbourhood Centre) for providing the awareness training which was crucial in the development of specific scenes.

Why does the BYT choose such complex and challenging themes? How do the kids manage or engage with the issues? Do you have to support them through emotionally?

BYT is a social action youth theatre company. We are dedicated to bringing awareness around those hard issues that are often not properly covered by the school curriculum, and sometimes perceived by adults as not relevant to young people. But they are! We give a voice to young people and provide opportunities for post-show discussions with supporting organisations as mentioned before. It is our hope that schools also follow up the performance with more discussion and support on the issues presented. I always enlist the support of health and well-being organisations such as headspace, the Women’s Resource Service, Byron Youth Service and professional psychologists to support the cast members, as well as introducing them to a plethora of online services. BYT is a close-knit company where we support each other in every production

Is abuse an issue in adolescent relationships?

Yes, young people – both females and males – experience psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in relationships. Under Your Thumb looks at issues of consent, or lack of it, gaslighting, manipulation, peer pressure, love and intimacy, social conditioning, rape, social media and even a projection into how our society may end up if we don’t make some changes!

How are you staging the show? I notice the costumes are a bit A Clockwork Orange?

We always like to challenge ourselves in creating new experiences for our audiences, so for Under Your Thumb we are using several performing areas, audience interaction, and a style that’s a little edgy! Yes, the inspiration for costume design came from A Clockwork Orange as we want to make a statement about abuse in our society as a whole. Having the support of the Brunswick Picture House for our community performance is wonderful and has allowed us to be more experimental. A huge thank you to Brett, Simone and Chris!

What should audience members expect from upcoming shows?

Be prepared for an evening of diverse theatre, including slam poetry, dance, dark comedy, songs and dramatic scenes. It may be confronting for some, but it is real, raw and honest.

Under Your Thumb tours local High Schools from Thursday 21 November. Public performance, Thursday 28 November, 6.45pm (6pm for food and drinks) at The Brunswick Picture House. Tickets $15 at the door or from brunswickpicturehouse.com

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