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Opinions on play about domestic violence please

(56 Posts)
Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 12:13:28

I am trying to write a theatre in education piece to tour around schools, looking at abuse within relationships, particularly teenage relationships. My quandary however is that I have a young male actor (early twenties) and an older female (early forties) playing the couple that the story is based on. I was originally going for the slant of the older female as abuser but not too sure now. Perhaps the younger male would be better/more effective in the piece.

I don't want to be cliched but of course the message of the piece needs to come across clearly to the audience (Year 9 upwards). I would have preferred to have had performers of similar ages to get a more typical teen relationship, but I am trying to focus on what I can do with a relationship in which there is a significant age difference between partners - without making that the crux of the problem.

I was thinking maybe I could have the young male character initially appearing as the vulnerable one that gets looked after by the older female, but that it was a faced and his more controlling and abusive nature begins to show.

What do people think? Which is the less naff and cliched scenario? Or do I try to make it so the violence and abuse comes from both?

I don't have any personal experience to base this on, so just trying to read up and research what I can find online eg the Home Office site on teen relationship violence.

Thanks.

Thewhingingdefective Sun 27-Jan-13 23:05:29

Sorry - missed a point springy hope. Can't ditch our actors and get teens - no teen actors available that I know of here other than those on school. I also don't agree that it is vital to have teens playing the parts for it to resonate with the audience as we have two performers in their early twenties who I think the audience will relate to. It was the older female that presented a slight problem when I considered having her in a relationship with a younger male, but this thread has given me plenty of ideas to get around that.

Thewhingingdefective Sun 27-Jan-13 22:58:18

Thanks for that Charbon.

Springyhope- we do not have the luxury of time or money to do either extensive research before getting the play together, but we will of course do what we can and be as thorough as we can in the time we have. We are offering the TIE show and workshop to schools (contacting PHSE and Drama departments) to raise awareness of these issues, not paint a hugely detailed picture. It can only ever be scratching the surface really as you can only say so much in a 60 minute performance with a short follow up workshop. We will most likely put together a list of contacts and websites for students and teachers so they can further explore the topic as the curriculum allows.

I am going to begin by writing some monologues from the victims' (both male and female) points of view and then have a go at flipping it on its head and write from the abuser's perspective. Whether I include it in the final draft I don't know, but it will be a useful writing exercise for me and get things moving so I can hopefully see some kind of plot threads.

I think it is important to make our audience aware that both males and females can be abused and that an abusive relationship is not a healthy one. If we have one aim, I guess it's to reinforce that relationships should be based on mutual respect, not fear or power and control.

Thanks again.

Charbon Sat 26-Jan-13 13:18:12

I think if you're aiming a production at teenagers, the messages have to resonate with them and include references to situations they've heard about or have experienced in real-life. It follows that the play needs to reflect the truth of abuse and violence in teenage relationships.

Hence, whereas reports of domestic violence generally have decreased and the convictions for those reports have increased, the age group that bucks that trend is 13-19. Have a look at this speech from the DPP Keir Starmer where he discusses the statistics and the genders involved in the violence.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 26-Jan-13 10:30:04

if posters are going to count numbers maybe the OP should just do male on male violence.

Forgetfulmog Sat 26-Jan-13 04:14:22

Yes but all of you who are voting for the woman to be the victim in this play are missing one vital flaw - the play is to raise awareness & educate people. Surely then (since everyone knows about male to female abuse anyway), it is a perfect opportunity to talk about female to male abuse. All types of abuse are wrong & the only way we have any chance of stopping it is to educate young people.

springyhope Sat 26-Jan-13 03:35:24

I don't have any personal experience to base this on, so just trying to read up and research what I can find online eg the Home Office site on teen relationship violence

imo you are on a sticky wicket if you have no personal experience of abuse. You will need to do a veritable MOUNTAIN of research to portray anything resembling an accurate portrayal of this very complex problem. You say you are short of time. imo it would be irresponsible to attempt to show something as powerful and damaging as this to teenagers without extensive and exhaustive research. You are also considering doing this without teenage actors, which is absurd imo.

If you can hold off funding until you have taken enough time to research this subject extensively, it could be powerful to show the effects/dynamics of domestic/relationship abuse on the victim without eg the perpetrator present. If you go ahead with the older woman, she could be the mother of a victim (talking head/soliloquy); the young man could be a victim or a perpetrator re thought processes, behaviour. I think you should ensure you run your script by every domestic/teenage abuse org you can and let them edit your work in order to ensure an accurate portrayal.

Any funding to employ teenage actors by any chance? hmm

dequoisagitil Sat 26-Jan-13 00:16:43

When a friend of mine started a refuge for abused women, she got a load of shit from people, about surely it was sexist and men get abused too.

So - start your own refuge...

BOTH SEXES CAN BE SHIT TO EACH OTHER. WHOO. BIG NEWS TO ALL OF US, I AM SURE.

Unfortunately, women are still disproportionately affected by biology, pay differences & social consequences. Therefore, I could give more of a cuss about women's issues.

Sue me.

saintmerryweather Sat 26-Jan-13 00:05:45

It really shocks me that ignorant people think because its the man who is the victim it doesnt matter or need to be addressed. maybe it is because men are made to feel ashamed that they dont stand up to their abusers that you dont hear about it. Bloody ridiculous.

Op why dont you have both actors talking as if they are both victims of abuse? Maybe the young man has been in a relationship for a while and is uncomfortable about his girlfriends escalating behaviour while maybe having the older woman having just managed to escape from a relationship she had been in since her teens. then you can have her explain what resources are available if you find yourself in that situation to help you escape, and the young man can raise awareness that women can be the perpetrators of dv as well as victims

dequoisagitil Fri 25-Jan-13 22:39:07

It's the stand-by of the media to be 'interesting' to turn it round on women-on-men, while reality goes unreflected.

dequoisagitil Fri 25-Jan-13 22:28:19

It's not that it doesn't matter, it is that frequently showing a 'balanced' picture ends in ridiculous overplaying of the problem.

Watch Casualty. Watch Corrie. There are female abusers in high strength in the media.

Speechless again at some postings on here. I really cannot understand how some people cannot see how their attitudes smack of "actually, as men are only abused 40% of the time by women, it doesn't really matter".

OP, thanks for coming back and letting us know your thoughts.

dequoisagitil Fri 25-Jan-13 22:13:09

I think that male to female abuse is more prevalent and the turning it round onto female-male abuse to allegedly tackle a lesser talked about subject is misogynist what-about-da-menz BS.

Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 21:45:50

I take on board all that’s been said and agree with much of it. I am a bit puzzled why addressing female to male abuse is irresponsible though. I know that I have lots of legwork to do in terms of research before writing; the artistic director of the company has done some already and has spoken to various agencies through which we’ve got some funding for the project. I have also been checking out lots of links – ones from this board and also the This Is Abuse campaign via the Home Office website.
After reading your posts, I have come to realise that I definitely need to avoid the relationship between the older woman and younger man as it would detract from what I think should be the main focus – that is a teen relationship abuse. I want to address or at least touch upon as many aspects of different types of abuse in relationships as I can within the timeframe (about an hour for performance and there will be discussion and workshop time after).
Voiceofunreason- I agree with you about the actors. Unfortunately I get no say so on this matter – the actors have already been employed so I have to write around them. I think I can make it work though, by exploring some of the ideas mentioned here eg the monologues, support group and looking at different character relationships. I am fairly sure the role reversal idea will be explored by the company during workshops and I might look at that for the play too.
The choice of subject matter is the artistic director’s, so it’s not commissioned by any particular body, although as I said above I think there is a tiny bit of funding from one or two places. The company have performed other plays to schools in the area on other PSHE topics and the schools and students have given very good feedback, so it’s not the actors that are the problem. I just need to make sure that I don’t end up writing something that when performed, it comes over as arsey, preachy or patronising. Also, it’s not possible to just get rid of the actors – or my place.
Thank you again for giving me your thoughts. I was never quite sure on the ‘older woman’ storyline and seeing people’s opinions here has more or less confirmed for me not to go down that route.

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 21:22:02

Sorry - it's here: http://www.dvrc-or.org/domestic/violence/resources/C61/

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 21:21:32

This is an interesting site - loads of statistics about DV in the US. Educational.

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 21:15:23

I did read it before I posted. 60% is a substantial majority. And how many DV murders of men by their female partners do you know of?
DV is a wide concept. Do you really believe that as many women as men cause serious injury or death to their opposite sex partner?

Speechless.

Forgetfulmog Fri 25-Jan-13 20:41:49

Dromedary, read what ecclesvet has put before you go making wild accusations

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 20:31:21

I would do either:
1) mother and son - mother trying to understand what son has done to his girlfriend, maybe influenced by how his father has behaved towards her and him. Or
2) young man has killed or put into hospital his girlfriend. He and the girlfriend's mother are talking about what has happened and why in monologues.
I would not do female on male DV. Simply because there is considerably more male on female DV and it is more likely to be very violent. It is therefore more important to tackle that in a one off theatre piece for teenagers.

Is this a commission? About violence in teenage relationships? The people who commissioned it are not going to be happy about the actors being too old (or is it them who have provided the actors?) and the subject being changed. Worst case scenario, they might not pay you. You need to give them what they've asked for, and if you have any say, those actors need to go! Even the man is too old - Y9s can see through anything.

ecclesvet Fri 25-Jan-13 20:16:50

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence

"Data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the last year for which figures are available."

Don't know if anyone has anything more recent, that was just a quick Google. 60-40 doesn't seem like the overwhelming majority some people are suggesting.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 25-Jan-13 17:30:07

unless you are going to show both Male to female and female to male DV you are being irresponsible.

Forgetfulmog Fri 25-Jan-13 16:41:52

I'm sorry but this is just making me angry. Research, what research? Can you honestly provide conclusive evidence that male to female abuse is more prevalent than female to male? It's this type of attitude that just brushes these things under the carpet & will never address the real issues.

Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 16:12:45

I haven't run off and abandoned the thread folks, just reading through. Will respond later when I have a moment. Thanks for the input.

Xales Fri 25-Jan-13 16:08:31

If you haven't made any decisions how about half a dozen different sorts of domestic abuse. Violence, financial, gas lighting etc and show that either male or female could be the abuser?

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