Mixed Bag Thursday

Muslim Youth Forum

Muslim Youth Forum

“I don’t know if I can go to work tomorrow”, I told Colin over a drink tonight.

“I’m bloody exhausted. So much has happened this week. And a lot of it quite draining. And I’m really tired”, I told him as we sat in the bar at The Ensemble Theatre.

The day started off with participation in a forum about “The Media” for a group of young students who are Muslim. Amongst the many issues we dealt with were representation in the media, participation in the workforce, and the difficulties in accurately covering the complexities of any religion.

“Could you describe the difference between a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, a Seventh Day Adventist and a Catholic?” one of the participants asked at one point. Unless, of course, you were a journalist who had some degree of specialisation in religion, of course, the answer is no. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to understand and to accurately portray issues, the argument went, but it was worth noting that most journalists are generalists.

My central argument was about broader representation in the workplace leading to a better understanding of a range of issues. “Twenty years ago”, I noted, most newsrooms were overwhelmingly male. In the same way that having a closer to even representation of women in the journalist workplace has, hopefully, led to a better understanding of a broader range of issues, I hoped a broader workplace participation by a broader range of people would lead to a better understanding of all Australians and thus better journalism.

At the end the discussion one woman, rather shyly, wanted to make the point that being Muslim is an important part of her life and identity, but not the only identifier.

It was a really terrific discussion and I was pleased to be part of it.

And then tonight, in stark contrast, I went to the play, “The Little Dog Laughed” at Ensemble.

“I read some reviews online. And apparently there’s some male nudity in the play”, I overheard someone say to another as we made our way towards our seats.

“Looking around the crowd tonight, I don’t think it’s going to be problem”, came the response.

He was referring to the significant gay male audience attending tonight’s play.

Although most times I visit The Ensemble, the audience is older, quite Anglo, and quite “North Shore”, tonight the audience was reasonably young (30s to 50s), with a lot of gay men attending.

And why not? The play is about the complex life of an American actor on the verge of “greatness” in Hollywood, but who treads the difficult line between his personal life (as a mostly closeted gay man), and his professional life.

The complicating factor is that he pretty much falls in life with a young rent boy he hires for the night.

The twist, however, is that the rent boy falls in love with him, also, despite having a girlfriend that has recently become pregnant.

I won’t go too much further, and thus spoil the plot, but it’s a story with a good plotline, and it’s not in any way shape or form, predictable.

We both enjoyed the play immensely. Colin, in particular, was very enthusiastic in his appraisal of the play, and of the cast who he described as having excellent timing, and having worked together in a really good way. We have seen a couple of the actors – James Millar and Lindsay Farris (a bit of a star) – in previous productions, though were unfamiliar with the work of Alexa Ashton and Alexandra Fowler (terrific, as the actor’s agent). We both agreed they were a well chosen cast. “And they got the accents RIGHT”, Colin noted.

“It’s great when you can see a play and you think about your own life, and the choices you’ve made”, I reflected as we sat at the end of the night enjoying a glass of wine.

It’s a play I’d highly recommend, though a word of warning… despite having read the online reviews of previous overseas productions… this particular production does NOT contain nudity.

PS. In the midst of all this, Colin and I managed to fit in a bite to eat at Garfish at Kirribilli (very nice soft-shell crab), and I went along to a brief after-work drinks with some colleagues at an organisation I deal with through work.

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