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Consent at Seymour Centre in Newtown

BY JAMIE APPS



After sell-out success at London’s National Theatre and a smash-hit West End run, Nina Raine’s acclaimed play, Consent, makes its Australian premiere.


Brought to the stage by the award-winning Outhouse Theatre Co, this intricately constructed drama pings with questions of consent not just sexual but personal, probing the murky moral terrain of the courtroom and the marriage bed, and putting Justice herself in the dock.


Director, Craig Baldwin & Star, Anna Samson - Interview

Ahead of the premiere Neighbourhood Media spoke to Director Craig Baldwin & star of the show Anna Samson.


Consent first captured the attention of Craig & the team at Outhouse Theatre when the play opened to glowing 5-star reviews at the National Theatre in London in 2017. Reflecting on that time Craig said, “[Consent] was wildly successful and, interestingly, it was written just before the #MeToo movement took off so it was also enormously prescient. It really captured the zeitgeist.”


Although the play has been on their mind for 6 years for various logistic reasons it is only now possible to bring this show to Sydney. Despite the delay, Caig believes Consent has only “grown more resonate” as time has passed.


“The global conversation around consent is in full swing… the play obviously deals with a very important and topical question around the law and whether it truly delivers justice, especially to survivors of sexual assault. The story is so powerful there. But I also think that description could mischaracterise the play as a preachy kind of ‘issue’ play. The writing is so smart, so surprisingly witty and so, so recognisably human - not remotely preachy.”


Anna Samson on the Importance of Consent

For actress Anna Samson this play is so important for several reasons.


“The script is so good,” Samson said before expanding on her answer. “It’s important to investigate the big, unanswerable questions of life on stage in the safety of a framework created by a deeply intelligent playwright… Consent shows us who we are and who we pretend not to be.”


While Consent was written by a British playwright to be performed in London the themes & topics unfortunately translate to Australia.


When asked if they had to make any changes to make the show more relevant to Australia Craig said, “Sadly no. Our flawed legal system so completely mirrors the British system. Our class bubbles, our boy's clubs, our fundamental misunderstanding of each other, even (especially?) in marriage - none of it is any different here really. These could just as easily be Sydney barristers. They even share our awful obsession with real estate!”


Anna Samon in Consent

With the play touching on some very difficult topics, we asked Anna if it is a challenging play to prepare for & perform in.


“I wanted to play Kitty and do Consent because it is challenging,” answered Anna swiftly. “Audiences will be asked to think about consent and relationships in complex ways. Nina is clever enough to give us the comedy of life within this. Human beings are funny creatures. ”


Future Importance of Consent

In closing our conversation with Craig & Anna we asked if they hoped the show would become irrelevant one day.


“It will never really be irrelevant,” said Craig. “I would hope we work out a much better legal process for rape survivors, and I hope we do more to educate, and more to incorporate consent practices into our culture - but the play is exploring further than just sexual consent. It is asking how to bridge the chasms of misunderstanding that happen between people. It is asking what constitutes justice, retribution, and repentance. It’s asking about empathy, and how we ever really know another person’s experience. And it is doing all that with such sparkling intelligence.”


As for Anna, she answered by saying, “We are all aware that our legal system fails the survivors of sexual assault in cruel, dangerous and baffling ways, again and again. This failure must be condemned and must change. Consent is a gesture towards a necessary conversation in this area.


“I would like the incessant need for women to become something in relation to others in order to be palatable to be a thing of the past. The way women are viewed most comfortably is as a wife or a mother. How these seem to be the things that implicitly hold the most (I won’t say value because that’s not correct) ease, ease for the patriarchy. Life is far more glorious than the little boxes we’ve created for ‘comfort’.”


June 1-24. Seymour Centre, Cnr City Road &, Cleveland St, Chippendale. $33-49+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.seymourcentre.com/event/consent

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