Writer-actor Jonathan Gavin admits he was very clear in his intentions when he set out to write his award-winning play, A Moment On The Lips.
The first intention was for the play to be a gift to a number of out-of-work female actor friends who had bemoaned the lack of good roles for women in theatre and begged him to write them a play.
But his other intention was to create an honest portrayal of a lesbian couple among the group of seven women whose lives the play follows. As the lesbians he saw on TV were nothing like the ones he knew in his own life, Gavin decided to correct the imbalance.
I really wanted to put on stage a lesbian couple who are like the people I know, not like the TV lesbians we see, he says. I wanted to show real people in real relationships, with all the issues that come with that. The lesbians I had seen on TV recently didn’t strike me as being particularly real.
A Moment On The Lips, which met with critical acclaim on its premiere in 2003 and won the Philip Parsons Young Playwrights Award, opened at the SBW Stables Theatre on 10 August. The story follows seven women who gather for a dinner party, and as the evening unfolds it explores issues about their complex past relationships, which explain the current state of their lives.
Gavin, who is also currently starring in the title role of the Ensemble Theatre’s Navigating Flinders, was touring New Zealand in 2002 with the cabaret show Two Pianos, Four Hands when he first began work on writing A Moment On The Lips.
But it was a series of previous dinner parties with his own group of actress friends telling about the characters they wanted to play which inspired the characters in his play.
It was a long process, but what emerged as most interesting was how these friends were when we were gathered socially, Gavin says.
They would describe to me the roles they have always wanted to play, but the conversations that went on among the women while we were eating dinner was so much more interesting than the roles they were describing. That showed me what the real concerns of women of this age are, so that is what I set out to write.
Gavin admits his dinner party experiences revealed one of the biggest differences between men and women when gathered together. With a group of women, when there are no men around, everyone talks at once, which is different from men, who usually talk one at a time, he says.
Women are able to hold several conversations at one time and, while it feels like they all are talking, they also listen to each other.
But this is a play for women and men -“ it is a big soppy story and has some big moving twists to it. It is a play about women, but I am a man so I like to write for myself as an audience member as well.
A Moment On The Lips opens 10 August at the SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross. Bookings: 1300 306 776.