Kristjan’s death hits a raw nerve
GIVING the true and tragic account of the death of Toowoomba teenager Kristjan Terauds in front of his still-grieving parents only 18 months after his death was one of the most raw experiences for actor Allen Laverty.
Laverty plays the role of Kristjan’s father in April’s Fool, the story of a family coming to terms with the death due to complications resulting from illicit drug use of a popular teen two weeks short of his 18th birthday .
Kristjan’s family was deeply involved in developing the piece, which was commissioned by award-winning playwright David Burton. It is on stage at The Arts Centre Gold Coast next week.
Using the words of Kristjan’s friends and family, interviewed over many months, the result is a powerful mix of sadness, loss and love, laced with humour.
‘‘To speak their words, and perform this piece in front of Kristjan’s parents, family and friends, most of whom are mentioned in the performance, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as an actor,’’ Laverty says.
‘‘It was quite difficult as everything was still raw for them, and it was raw for us to, too.
‘‘But the way it is written makes it easy to perform because it’s not contrived in any way – it’s real words, real emotions taken straight from the journal of Kristjan’s father.’’
The show, which also stars Barbara Lowing, Jessica Harm, Sam Clark and Belinda Raisin, was first performed in 2010 and received a standing ovation.
‘‘Audiences react differently to it all the time,’’ says Laverty.
‘‘Some are silent at the end, not knowing whether to clap because they are dumbfounded by what they’ve seen, and some stand up and applaud.
‘‘It touches people and effects them in different ways – it’s not about saying ‘don’t do drugs’ and preaching, it’s about opening up the lines of communications with your kids, parents and friends and educating people about drug use.
‘‘People are going to try things in their lives, but it’s about discussing these things with the ones you love.
‘‘That’s what we hope to achieve with this show, just to get people talking about the issue.’’
Young people, parents, teachers, youth workers and theatre critics have praised April’s Fool for its engaging story.
This piece is not just a performance to be enjoyed by drama students, but is critical for all students and their parents to fully understand and appreciate the consequences of drug use.
plays The Arts Centre Gold Coast on Monday at 7.30pm and Tuesday at 10.30am. Tickets are $25-$40.
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Allen Laverty in a scene from