Jonty chats with Twenty Eight Millimmetre writer, Sam Brooks, about the inspriation, the process, and the why...
What inspired the show?
I got really frustrated (which is always a solid, if not unimpeachable source of inspiration) at not seeing a certain kind of relationship onstage. When we see gay men represented onstage, it's usually in an exaggerated and dramatic way, which is not to say that people don't or haven't lived that way (or that I haven't even lived that way at some point), but we rarely see healthy, emotionally mature relationships between gay men onstage. And I think it's really hard to believe something when you don't see it, so this play is my attempt to show that. When we think of political theatre, this isn't the kind of play that we think of, but I think that showing the lives that we lead, as othered people, and showing them not only to ourselves but to a more mainstream audience, is political in its own way.
What are the central questions, themes, or conflicts that lie at the heart of the work for you?
The play's about love, essentially - the idea of love, what kind of love we value and the reality of that love. There's an idea in our culture - especially in gay culture - that sexual or romantic love is the most vital and valued love, and I think it's a very dated idea that doesn't reflect the way people actually live their lives now. Our friends become our most significant and central relationships sometimes, and those relationships can be so much more intimate, complicated and deep than our romantic or sexual relationships sometimes.
Also the idea of love is never the reality - all love is work, we all love imperfectly and we all receive that love imperfectly. What looks like an easy relationship from the outside usually took work, sacrifice and commitment to get it to that point. We're sold the idea of the perfect love or the soulmate from a young age, and it sets us up really badly for the reality.
Tell us about the cast and crew, how did they get involved?
It's a whole friendly affair. The original workshop director wasn't able to direct the show because of other commitments, so I asked ol' Sam Snedden, who is directing two of my shows later in the year (Burn Her and the Actor's Program grad show), to come onboard to direct it. Tim did the workshop, and I'm real close friends with both Geordie and Dan - I'd trust both of them with my life, and so I guess I'd trust them with this show - and it's been such a beautiful and amazing experience working with all four of them. I've worked with them all before in some context over the last few years of my career, so to bring all of them together for this play feels incredibly special.
Any memorable moments from developing / rehearsing the show?
The workshopping process, which was dramaturged by the absolute legend Allison Horsley, was one of the most positive experiences of my career thus far. To be able to throw away any vanity or preciousness and get down to what the script was about, what people thought worked, and what didn't, then to rewrite a huge chunk of it overnight and try it again was a huge rush. I think the play is full of that kind of energy as a result - and it's really spread throughout the cast/crew through rehearsals.
What reaction are you hoping the show gets?
I want people to think about it - even though the play is largely engaged with queer relationships, and the relationships between gay men especially - it's more concerned with the universal idea of love - how we give, how we accept and how we deny that love - and the ripple effects that love had and love lost can have on our lives. I want people to really engage with those themes, and reflect on it in their own lives.
Twenty Eight Millimetres is on at Basement Theatre 13 - 17 Feb as part of Pride Festival.