Youth take on dark tale
APE, torture, abuse, oppressive standards of living and the issues associated with them are heavy subject matter for any performance company, let alone a youth theatre group.
But they’re the subjects The Arts Centre Gold Coast’s Youth Theatre Project explores in the gritty young adult play Eyes to the Floor, which opens next week.
Based on true events which occurred at the Hay Institution for Girls, in NSW, in the ’60s and ’70s, the dramatic and moving piece tells the tale of emotional survival in an institution determined to break the human spirit.
Rebekah Cornell, 16, who plays Hay’s secondyoungest inmate, Danielle, says portraying such an emotionally damaged character is ‘‘challenging’’.
‘‘She was abused as a child, was raped and beaten and became pregnant very young. She was drugged and her baby was taken away from her and she began to lose her mind,’’ Cornell says.
‘‘I did a lot of research on what happens to people when they are incarcerated in a psychiatric ward and it was really eye-opening. ‘‘It has been a very intense role.’’ Brittany Muscat, 20, plays 14-year-old Emma, who provides ‘‘positive light’’ to the dark show.
‘‘She brings the joy into their horrible world,’’ Muscat says.
‘‘It has been an interesting show to be a part of and there is a great mix of young actors involved. There is a lot of talent among the youth here. ‘‘It has been a great experience.’’ Georgia Brennan, Tori Bailey, Valentina DiazByers, Clara Aleckson, Brynne Morris, James Bolton and Mackenzie Fearnley round out the cast.
Director Andrea Moor says Eyes to the Floor was written for a youth cast despite the graphic and chilling nature of the script.
‘‘It was just horrendous what happened to these girls at Hay,’’ she says. ‘‘Every bit of their personality was stripped and they were not allowed to speak and always had to keep their eyes to the floor.
‘‘It is a wonderful and moving production with some humour in there as well despite its darkness.’’
The youth theatre project provides young performers with guidance under the direction of Moor and Soapbox Theatre’s Jessica Westhead.
The Arts Centre has presented two Youth Theatre Projects in previous years, staging Oh The Humanity and Other Exclamations! in 2010 and The Good Doctor last year.
opens at The Arts Centre Gold Coast on Wednesday and plays nightly at 7.30pm until October 6.
A scene from The Arts Centre Gold Coast’s Youth Theatre Project production which opens on Wednesday.