Yesterday, I attended the first performance of The Monologue Collective at Kings Cross Theatre, where young actors performed a series of monologues written by teenagers, designed to be used in future HSC Drama monologues. I went into the theatre excited— last week I interviewed creator Laneikka Denne, and writer Parker Craig, who told me all about the project and the development process—and I was keen to see the final product.
These monologues successfully captured the feeling of being 17, with all the angst and humour and romance that comes with it. These young writers are ambitious and in-tune with the concerns of their peers. The topics explored included young queer love, the pressures of high school, grappling with grief as a teenager, and young women’s relationships to their mothers.
Sometimes, the writers shoot for ambitious metaphors that don’t always come across clearly to the audience, but I would rather watch theatre that aim for something big and falls short, than plays it safe.
All in all, the standard of writing was high considering the writers’ youth, and they were ably supported by a talented cast of young actors, led by director Nisrine Amine. There were two absolute standout pieces that were so impressively written, I was shocked to discover the writers’ ages. The first was Fine Young Men, a story about privilege and power and the toxic culture perpetrated at private boys schools, written by Nick Annas, and performed by Jasper Lee-Lindsay. The second was My Ex-GF, The Ghost, a haunting tale of young queer love and loss and moving on, written by Claudia Elbourne and performed by Laila Chesterman.
The audience of mostly schoolkids enjoyed the show, particularly the youthful language and topical references. You could tell that the high schoolers were very excited about seeing themselves represented on stage, and also at the prospect that they, too, could write stories like this.
I love supporting new writing, both in my criticism and my directing. This is exactly the kind of initiative I love to see in the Sydney theatre scene. The performances are mostly sold out already, but if you’re lucky, you can grab tickets here.