Since I started PUMP Theatre in August 2012, the issue of domestic violence is now being talked about in the media in Australia, and hopefully in our homes and communities.
In 2012 when I wrote SNUG and VENT and held a rehearsed reading with some young actors, it occurred to me that they even found talking about the issue very difficult. However, they took the plunge, because privately they knew that family or domestic violence happens, and they wanted to make a contribution. We both were on a learning journey about how to handle the issue and engage an audience in talking about the issue. Of course our audience was 98% female – and we need to keep looking at how we can engage more men in taking action on this issue.
Since then we have performed the play in Melbourne on Valentine’s Day 2014 and at Adelaide Fringe 2014. I am happy to announce that PUMP Theatre is looking to partner with an international organisation and will perform for their leaders at an Annual General Meeting on Valentine’s Day 2015. The cast and I are getting ourselves ready to bring another community to life, and engage in dialogue about this issue, and we are excited!
The new Premier of Victoria has announced a Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015 and Rosie Batty, (i.e. who lost her young son Luke Batty (9) at the hands of his father at cricket training) was made Australian of the Year by the Prime Minister in January. These are two landmark actions on our way to making things better for those who suffer at the hands of violence – particularly women and their children.
I am moved by the courage Rosie and Premier Daniel Andrews have shown in keeping this issue in the public fora. Also the tireless work of campaigners like Natasha Despoja (http://www.ourwatch.org.au/) and Elizabeth Broderick in her work with the Australian Defence Force and White Ribbon to change the culture of violence in the workforce.
We lost Stella Young (Vale) recently, who was a prominent comedian and activist for people with a disability, but her message about dealing with difference still carries on.
One thing I have noticed through PUMP Theatre’s audience forums is the ‘silence’. The audience almost is lost for words, or does not have a language to talk about violence. It’s certainly not a comfortable topic, yet one I believe many of us know so well through experience. So my aim for this year is to become a better storyteller and encourage others to also become storytellers, and to create a dialogue that assists people to feel comfortable and confident about talking about family violence – and doing something about it, in their own community! Come out of the closet! Stop hiding! Take risks!