The Boys In The Band, an iconic 1968 play that inspired the gay rights movement, is coming to Javeenbah Theatre from 25 March. We sat down with director, Jake Goodall, to chat about the show and find out everything you need to know.
Tell us a little bit about the show?
The show is set in 1968 Manhattan where it is Harold’s 32nd Birthday. Along with 8 friends and an unexpected visitor, this is a dinner party sure to wreak havoc! This play broke new ground and blazed an undeniable trail for queer representation in theatre back in 1968 when it first premiered. When at first glance many see the stereotypical queer characters as nothing more than that, stereotypical. However, we learn that they are more than the stereotypes placed upon them, they are living, breathing characters providing a message of hope for the queer community.
How is a 54 year old play still relevant today?
I would say it is even more relevant than it was in 1968. Back then, this play was groundbreaking, it was one of the first productions that featured almost a full cast of queer characters. These characters were also played by many men who were queer themselves, however due to the time they couldn’t be or share who they wanted to be. In 2022 we have made leaps and bounds for the queer community, from marriage equality to anti-discrimination. But queer people are STILL not fully accepted in the community. Especially when the Australian Government are trying to pass a bill allowing schools the right to expel gay and queer kids! This play will draw our memories back to where we have come from and how (whilst it is not as prevalent in today’s society) LGBTQ+ discrimination still lurks in the shadows.
As director, what was your vision for the show?
My vision for the show is that I wanted the characters and their stories to be at the forefront. I want the audience to relive all the characters’ experiences and how they can form part of their own lives and opinions. To do this we have gone completely neutral black and white for well… basically everything. You’ll have to come and see what I mean!
What was your favourite part about directing this show?
My favourite thing about working on this show has been my cast. They have been so strong in our rehearsals and taking my crazy directions in leaps in bounds! As they can attest to, my rehearsal rooms are super, super chaotic, so it has been wonderful to work with a team that will take everything I say and just run with it.
What was your biggest challenge in directing this show?
As many people know, this is my first venture into directing. I have worked on numerous productions in creative positions but never as a director. So it has been extremely hard to make decisions about almost everything: program, marketing, blocking, characterisation, set, props… the list goes on. Everyone turns to me for the answer and I have to say it is daunting. It has been extremely stressful at times, and I have been so lucky to have some awesome people around me to assist me at every avenue.
How do you think the audience will feel after seeing the show?
I want them to feel thoughtful. I want my audiences to walk away with a changed view on LGBTQ+ people. I want them to know that we are people too, we are valued, loving and caring people who just want to be seen as any other. I hope that this play will either affirm their positive opinions or views, or even change those that see the queer community in a negative light.
What is the one thing you would say to people still debating about whether they should buy a ticket?
I’ve hammered on about queer and LGBTQ+ community throughout this interview, but this play is not just for us. It will speak to those from any minority or marginalised group, those who stand up for the little guy, those who care about human rights, those who love theatre, those who love performance and those who love Javeenbah! It is a perfect show for absolutely anyone and everyone who wants to come and see theatre; especially after the numerous changes to the season, Javeenbah is THRILLED to be back
Do you have a favourite moment from the show that you can leave us with?
It’s not a particularly happy moment but I think the final line of the play is extremely poignant. It’s from Michael:
‘As my father said to me when he died in my arms, “I don’t understand any of it. I never did”
The Boys In The Band will play at Javeenbah Theatre from 25 March to 9 April 2022. Tickets are on sale now, get in quick!