Sunday, 9 March 2014

Jumping for Joy

Doris Younane, Sheridan Harbridge, Camilla Ah kin, Alice Ansara in Jump for Jordan
Photo by Brett Boardman

A wonderful coincidence occurred last month. Alison Lyssa's 1981 play Pinball was revived in a production by Duck Duck Goose at The Tap Gallery. Within days, my play Jump For Jordan premiered at SWB Stables Theatre, produced by the Griffin Theatre Company. Let me tell you why this coincidence was wonderful. 

Pinball is about a woman fighting the prejudices of her family, her friends, her ex-partner, her same-sex lover and the courts to keep custody of her child. It used a complex and deliberate clash of style and genre to boldly take on an uncharted debate, and went on to enjoy international recognition. However, in downtown Sydney, all the critics could see was some sort of feminist affront. Brian Hoad, writing for The Bulletin, dismissed the play as "yet another piece of crude and tedious female chauvinist piggery". Back in '81, this big-hearted play about tolerance could not be tolerated. 

Fast forward to 2014. The premiere production of my play Jump For Jordan opens, and is embraced by critics and audiences. It's about a young lesbian who has been disowned by her strict Jordanian mother. It uses a feminist aesthetic to open up conversations about how we negotiate identities and relationships within overlapping cultural frameworks. In that intimate theatre, one of my joys has been to watch punters watch the whole show with smiles on their faces, then fill the foyer with their own comparable stories.

Pinball was ahead of its time. But decades later, instead of fearing or denouncing difference, there is an appetite for stories drawn from the many threads in our social fabric. The coincidental programming of Pinball and Jump For Jordan, the welcome that these plays have received, and the overdue recognition Alison received for her ambitious and intelligent writing, are mighty things to celebrate. Thank you trailblazer Alison. And thank you director Iain Sinclair, the amazing Jump for Jordan cast and crew, and the faith-filled team at Griffin. 


Sal Sharah and Doris Younane in Jump For Jordan
Photo Brett Boardman

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