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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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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