Australian playwright and director Errol Bray is bringing his critically acclaimed play, The Choir, to Brisbane later this year and hopes that its themes will resonate with LGBTI audiences.
The Brisbane production also marks Bray’s return to directing his own play, something he hasn’t done since 1987.
“I do enjoy directing this play because of the many different elements in it for actors to get their teeth into… this Brisbane cast is particularly good and have created a terrific ensemble feel,” Bray told the Star Observer.
The Choir follows a group of seven choirboys under the care of a headmistress at an orphanage and the consequences of her actions to win a choir competition, which result in a dramatic and unexpected twist. Premiering more than 30 years ago in 1981, the play has travelled the world; from the former Yugoslavia to Washington D.C. and London.
While it’s had numerous directors, the core theme of the play has always remained the same.
Bullying by larger institutions in daily life was a theme originally dismissed by several critics in 1981 as paranoia and hyperbole but as the play continued on throughout the decades, public opinion and reactions changed.
“In 1981 people felt the play was an exaggeration, some sort of skewed prophecy – one review headline was ‘Paranoid Claptrap’ – whereas now… the awful history of sexual abuse of young people keeps being uncovered on almost a daily basis,” Bray said.
Bray said he feels that today’s audiences will especially be able to relate to issues raised in the play
“The play does seek to show specific ways in which bullying arises when groups are oppressed, within the group itself, and shows how often oppressed people turn on each other rather than on the oppressors.”
Whilst the work is not primarily aimed towards gay audiences, Bray hopes that they will still be able to relate to issues of oppression and bullying.
“As a writer who is gay I feel that the oppression shown in the play by institutions mostly goes double for queer people,” he said.
“Also it isn’t only young people who are crushed by institutional oppression but they suffer the most and their lives are most distorted by the chaotic and unreasonable abuse of power.”
Bray also hopes that the play will resonate with Queensland LGBTI audiences and current struggles facing the community.
“Most governments are power-mad and oppressive and the present Queensland government is an outstanding example of that.”
The Choir will be at the Brisbane Powerhouse from December 11-15.