Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Politics of Fear

Temperamentals NEW web 265x400pxThe play "The Temperementals" by Jon Marans is at the New Theatre in Newtown Sydney, until 3 March 2012. This is a thought provoking look at prejudice and the effect of political activism on personal relationships. It is a dramatization of events in 1950s Hollywood USA, with a campaign for sexual freedom, entangled with racism and the communist scare. The actors (Mark Dessaix, Douglas Hansell, Ben McIvor, Brett Rogers and Daniel Scott), give fine performances, helped by an outstanding set design by Tom Bannerman.

Some of the scenes in the play seemed so incredible (some very funny and some tragic) that I had to check to see if this could really be based on a true story. A quick check of the Wikipedia found an extensive entry on the main character, political activist Harry Hay (who is, if anything, more flamboyant than portrayed in the play), fashion designer Rudi Gernreich and the Mattachine Society they formed.

While the prejudices of 1950s USA may seem a long way from today, it is worth thinking back to the events on 11 September 2001 and how fear resulted in discrimination and oppression of some groups in society. Some of this discrimination continues to this day, with suspicion cast on honest, hardworking citizens, due to their religion, their hairstyle, or the clothes they wear.

Note: I attended the performance of The Temperementals, 10 February 2012, courtesy of the Net Theater, Sydney.

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