There are not many local good news stories about suicide, but we are one of them.
His name was Guy May. He was tall, talented and an actor who had been Neighbors, and he was a friend who is gone. When MichaeI heard the news he saw the whole play in his head.
Within two days it was written.
He showed me, his partner/ producer and I said, it’s a suicide prevention play.
I said Suicide is to difficult to stage, plus how would we market it? How would we fund it?
But he just urged me to read it. After I reached the last line I looked at him and said “OK, we have to put this on”.
Now I’m its producer, and my knuckles are sore from knocking. But I’m knocking now because you audience will love this story.
Determined to stage it, we found a small theatre and put the call out for four male actors. We asked everyone auditioning to read the script before saying yes, to make sure they were ok with it. They were. Amongst the numerous actors that responded we got a government worker, a personal trainer, who was dyslexic , (That’s another amazing story) a young basket-ball coach and a man who sold lounge suites. All of them were struggling Melbourne actors.
Over several weeks we rehearsed in living rooms often not together because of our conflicting work schedules. And then we got it up.
The only marketing we had was word of mouth and it worked. Not only did we start filling up but the AUDIENCES, especially the men, were RAVING.
After every show Michael was getting mobbed. Guys were hugging, shaking his hand and congratulating all of us for being brave enough to be tough and honest. And they told us to take the play EVERYWHERE.
Straight after one performance Andrew Thompson, the manager of The Wedge Theatre in Sale loved it so much, he booked it for a night in Sale. To prepare for this show we put the play on again. This time we attracted a ¾ page spread in The Age and a 15-minute short documentary on Radio National’s Life Matters. And we filled up.
And the reaction was the same.
The play works, it holds and entertains, and moves and resonates with audiences. We already have people wanting to come back and see it.
Up to yesterday we were set for another two-week run in the Athenaeum 2 but we have just been poached by The MTC who are partnering with us to stage it in their Lawler Theatre.
Suicide prevention is a grinding ongoing war , and endless wars need new weapons, and this play is a weapon that works. Cheap to put on, it has the versatility to be staged everywhere from major theatres to suburban halls where it will do what it does best, gets people, especially men talking.