Embracing this year’s Mardi Gras theme, Focus Theatre and B Sharp thought it was essential to produce the Martin Sherman play, Bent, to give festivalgoers an insight into the treatment of homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

“It’s the first play that came to mind because it deals with such a significant part of gay history and where the symbol of gay pride originated,” Bent’s director Pete Nettell said.

“It just seems now is the right time to do it as we found there is a whole generation of the gay community who didn’t know about the play or didn’t know the connection between the pink triangle and how people were treated in the camps. It returns to its original purpose, which was an educational piece.”

Exposing the atrocities the Nazi regime committed against gay men, Bent also portrays a lighter side of life in 1930s Berlin, revealed through the personal journey of the lead, Max.

“It’s a play that’s so specific in its time about the particular story. Through that it has a universality,” Nettell said.
“The relationships are so honest and truthful and people can see them and identify with them 60 years later and it’s about how people connect in real life and it doesn’t matter what the time is.”

During the auditions Nettell wanted to cast an actor who was in touch with his own sensibility to ensure he captures the true essence of Max.

“The play follows Max and his story primarily is of a party boy who fucks around, takes drugs, has relationships, misbehaves but gets put in a position where he has to face who he really is,” he said.

“I was looking for someone prepared to explore that part of themselves and it’s not a comfortable place to look at.”

For actor Wil Traval, best known for his work in All Saints and the Underbelly series The Golden Mile, being cast as Max was a bit like therapy.

“I think like many of the characters in the play. When you start to delve into them, you start to draw in your similarities and differences too,” Traval said.

“The journey itself has been so confronting and I had to examine my own compromises in my own life and, just like Max, had to evaluate whether they were worth making.”

info: Bent opens at the Belvoir Street Downstairs Theatre on Sunday, February 21. Tickets start at $24. Bookings on 9699 3444 or visit www.belvoir.com.au

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