Pink Triangles, written and directed by David Atfield.BITS Theatre at the Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman House. Dramaturgy by Campion Decent. Saturday April 15, 1997.
This was a one-off work-in-progress presentation, aiming at a full touring production in 1998. I think it is a script that has the potential to succeed - though there is something about the first half which worries me.
As I arrived - a balding mid-fifties man, on my own, in a blue shirt, sleeves rolled up (but only to the elbows), neat trousers and gently coloured sleeveless cardigan - I heard a woman say, "We'll be the only straight people here, by the look of it."
I dismissed it at the time, but now I have seen the play through, the assumption this person made that she could tell people's sexuality in a superficial glance stands out not just for its overt prejudice, but because it is this prejudice which sent people perceived as homosexual to Germany's death camps in the 1930's and 40's. More horrifying, if that is possible, is the continuing prejudice after the war, even among the rescuers of the concentration camp victims.
This is a story which must be told, yet David Atfield's research led often to people who would not tell their truths, 50 years later, for fear of humiliation. All of us need to face this reality, and Atfield's play will help us do it.
What worried me was that the first half seemed less focussed than the second. Each vignette is successful individually, but I felt lost without clearer links. In the second half, the stories are juxtaposed so that each one - the gay, the lesbian and the Jew - reflects on the others until we meet the real people, whose stories these are, at the very end.
I don't have a simple answer to this dramaturgical problem - maybe it's to do with turning an almost cabaret style into something more stylistically expressionist - but my hope is that Atfield will continue his work. He has had deserved support so far from the ACT Cultural Council, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Goethe Institut, Canberra. I think we need a full production.© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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