Pardon Me Alan Turing

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by Friday and [00:00:05] We're in a time of butts data. [00:00:09] So it's one of the three spaces that that's has. And it has an amazing down right above us that which, which has independent lighting. So convenience of any color is amazing for the show, and has pillars, and it's actually [00:00:24] perfect for the show, really. [00:00:26] And this is the first time this show has been in motion. [00:00:29] It is actually yeah, it's it's the first time it's been out of Oakland. So even though it's set in the UK and Auckland's that has had to season and development season and the the Auckland pride season of it. So how did the play come about? I've been writing it for a number of years, I saw The Imitation Game, which was about Alan Turing and his life and sort of areas which wasn't really covered, which was about his conviction, or potential conviction, it was it know that he received an alternative to a conviction. And I thought it was an area that hadn't been covered I didn't really know about so sort of researching that and thought it it's there was there wasn't even talk then about the importance [00:01:28] being extended or to anyone else just had just been given to Alan shoring up time. So I thought it needs more [00:01:38] needs to be brought to the public more more. So [00:01:41] before we go any further, can you just elaborate on who Ellen cheering was and in what was his convictions? [00:01:48] So I ensuring he was a genius mathematician, computer scientist. And he basically he they say that he broke the Enigma code during World War Two. So he, [00:02:05] they say he shortened the war by two years. Because of his abilities. He he designed the machine and built a machine that broke the code. And then Nazis were so confident that it couldn't be broken that they didn't believe that it had. And so yeah, the British government kept a secret for so long, that they managed to win the war by strategy, basically. But he Yeah, his advances in computer science are, are basically why we have why computers are where they are today. He had the idea of actually what a computer could be artificial intelligence and was fascinated by that. So yeah, British, during the was working for the government during the the worst of the 30s and 40s. Then he was involved in [00:03:00] he basically had a relationship with someone who, [00:03:05] who stole some stuff from him. So he reported it, but didn't report that he was having a relationship with Him. And that came out that was having a relationship. And then he had to go to court. And the alternative to the conviction for being homosexual, which was legal at time, how many sexual activities was that? He was kind of chemical castration, which is artificial estrogen. So he, yeah, he underwent that afterwards. So to avoid prison. [00:03:39] Yeah, so that's how Yeah, that's how it came about that. [00:03:44] The the politician was given to him, as well, after he was dead. And a long time after he, he died. So they say that he committed suicide. But it could have also been just cyanide vapor that it could have been because he did experiments in this back room. But yeah, so it could have been that as well. But there's a long time after he died, that the parlance came out, and the pardon for him. And then it wasn't accepted to anybody else except Him, which is bizarre for the fact that they were pardoning him, for him, his homosexuality, but not actually acknowledging all of the amazing stuff that he did. And it was seen to be only his patriotism is because the reason why they gave him a partner in the first place. So [00:04:29] yeah, and so you were saying you you saw a movie about his life. And then what were the things in that movie that weren't covered that kind of inspired you to write the play [00:04:39] was it was more about his life, and obviously, the amazing things he did in computer science. [00:04:45] And then they kind of skipped over the relationship quite broadly. [00:04:51] And his conviction. So I just think those it needed to be needed more detail about that and actually need more work needed to be done towards the partner has been extended to the the other man, the thousands of other men who were, who had been convicted under the same, the same law for hundreds of years. And just because they weren't famous, the they weren't considered important enough to, to be pardoned as well. So it was this is just a fight that actually, Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry, were campaigning for, obviously, been Benedict Cumberbatch playing on a touring in the film. [00:05:35] And then the campaign started for trying to extend these patterns in the UK. And then the see here as well. And New Zealand. So you [00:05:45] tell me about some of the other characters in the play. [00:05:48] So it also features Oscar Wilde. [00:05:54] So this this four storylines. One is of Alan Turing and his life, especially how his family and treated him during the period where he was, was in courts and being convicted. [00:06:11] And his childhood as well and how they treated him through that. Oscar, Oscar Wilde and him, his life is being married, but also being distance in that marriage. And [00:06:29] before he was convicted and sent to prison for two years for hard labor, also, there's a modern storyline, which is the [00:06:40] the the fight towards the positive things being extended. So it's mainly focused on just before the patterns were worse now than the UK. And then the first reading being passed here. And there is a purgatory storyline, which is if Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing knew each other and what their relationship would be. [00:07:06] So the having Alan, Alan showing us direct directness and intelligence against Wilds, wits and humor, and how that and that's just seems to work really well. As soon as I started writing it, knowing the two characters, how well they kind of played off each other. [00:07:25] I read a review recently that that says about some the play the humor seduces you, then the themes confront you. [00:07:33] Yeah, I mean, I don't I don't think if you if there is a play that keeps pushing, tragedy, tragedy, tragedy all the way through, it numbs an audience, I feel like humor, lifts the audience out and makes them think about the issues more because they're laughing at it. But sometimes they think they shouldn't be laughing at it because it's a serious matter. And and sometimes the laughing and going Oh, yeah, that's true. And they relate to it. Think humor is a good way of of bring issues to the fore and making noise Think about it. If you keep [00:08:08] trudging through and hitting the audience with stuff, there's, it's it's it's going to head against the wall after a while because the audience will just put up a wall of unseen numb to it after a while. Yeah, I think he was a really good tool. [00:08:25] So on the face of it, giving a pattern for an historic offense is kind of pretty sounds kind of cut and dry. But you're saying that there are multiple issues within their skin? [00:08:37] Yeah, well, there is the the issues of what these uh, pardon. [00:08:43] The word pardon, invokes ideas of have been forgiven for something that you've done wrong, which even which the Lord is trying to, to quash sentences. So it's not that the government is forgiving. For something that they should be, it shouldn't be a part. And it should be just a question of sentences, because it's, there was nothing wrong with what people were doing at the time. And it was just an offense that they had had invoked. So [00:09:19] yeah. So as the issues of what what is a partner? What, why, why we're using the word Pardon? And what damage has been done by the government and therefore society for that length of time? And can we actually ever what wipe the slate clean is, it's [00:09:41] when [00:09:42] people have been seen as guilty for so long that are they are always going to be seen as guilty, no matter what the government says now, or some people say now, within society. It's [00:09:59] the right vacuum Nancy's seen in a, in a in a shadow still even now. And times have moved on but and laws are changing, but it's going to take a long time for society to change the opinions and views on the community. [00:10:19] Am I right in thinking that this head, its premium performances, price, the the historic conviction legislation being introduced a new zealand [00:10:30] actually just after so I was I've been writing it for a few years before the conditions before the law change came into place. [00:10:42] And then two weeks before the development season opens, the first reading was passed. So I then had to slightly rewrite the end, it didn't change the themes, right? Because it was always about the fight towards the change in the law. But the end of the play had was up to present day and present moments. So I had to change that to to be that that the laws had had changed in the UK. And then actually it was pretty quickly that the reading has been passed here. So and that came into play so quickly. It's been talked about it on a name is Eva is it was a year that people have been talking and saying are you get that yellow? We're putting a reading through it. Yeah, it's being processed and say, Well, how many years is it's going to take? And then you know, with a within a few days have passed? And [00:11:39] then yeah, and Anyway, it was an exciting time. Because, you know, it was in current news. And it's so rare that you're writing a play, where it changes so quickly, even just before and during the run the play. [00:11:56] Yeah, because it takes so long for the place to get on stage, it kind of highlighted that, perhaps there needs to be more ways for place to get on quickly if they're dealing with current events, because they changed so quickly. But it was exciting time because we could use over that publicity and go look at this isn't the news. This is happening right now. This is what it's about. And so what was the audience reaction to that to that first production, we got, we got really good feedback. [00:12:24] I invited a lot of friends along, obviously, because it was my first full length show, which was really exciting. And a lot of the audience members were completely unaware of the history behind it, the history behind these famous characters, what they went through. And the fact that the law change had only just come into place of the hundred, over 100 years. [00:12:49] And actually, a lot of them were shocked and really touched by an upset as well, as a lot of people who were emotionally upset. Yeah, we're crying during the performance, because they just didn't realize that this had happened. And, and actually were upset that they didn't know about it. So I think it's really important in the fact that it's letting people it's letting people into this important piece of history and on the background behind it. [00:13:18] Also, I've got an amazing cast, which are still still going out to the third season of the shows the same casts, same director. So it's, it's really, it's developed over time, and the cast of really embedded the characters and know them inside out and the relationships of [00:13:40] our amazing. So I've got an amazing technical [00:13:45] person who's because there's so there's four different storylines, actually making those it clear that we're in different places, is a is a challenge in itself. So using lighting and background sounds, we've managed to do that on its own, it's pretty clear now. So it has developed and change. But since the first development season, and also using people's feedback, and using critical feedback, we've managed to clarify what we had first and then now I think we're in a really good place with the show. [00:14:16] In terms of audience feedback, have you had either mean that were directly affected by these convictions, or the families or friends of these mean, contact you, [00:14:27] I have had a few messages through social media, which don't directly say, I have a conviction, but also but more so say that this is touched me and and this has [00:14:42] affected me and and they connect with the themes, and the set that within within messages, and which makes me think that there might be something else that [00:14:56] which is, which is the thing at the time, the moment it's, [00:15:01] we might be able to change the laws. But if people have to apply for that to be changed, they don't want to go back. They've been hiding it for so long, they want to think about that they didn't want to apply to a government and two, three, the police who convicted them in the first place, especially if they were entrapped by some of the methods that were used back then to, to attract men. And then to convict them on under under that and treatment. [00:15:31] So yet, the messages are more cryptic, and and you have to read a little bit more into them. Because people don't want to admit that they have convictions, and this has happened to them, even though we now world society now should think that it's there was nothing wrong with what happened back then. But still, they've been hiding with solid data wants to talk about it or admit it [00:15:54] relevant. [00:15:56] And those convictions still can affect people on their daily lives, I imagine like travel and things like that. [00:16:04] Yeah, I'm applying for visas for different countries are playing for work. If they do a criminal record, check the those convictions are the on the sex offenders list. So they're on the list with pedophiles, and rapists. And that's lifelong, that it doesn't end after a certain period that's for the rest of their lives. So there are men that have passed away with with those connections, and some are still alive with those convictions. So think the men that are still alive, but thinking back then when they were convicted. [00:16:45] It was a very different world. So I think things haven't changed enough for them to be able to face up to that. [00:16:54] Do you know the extent of the number of convictions in New Zealand that were brought about that because of [00:17:01] the way there wasn't? Anything the government have actually explicitly said how many because they kept they've released records? For the 80s and 90s? I think I know, as a lot. I think I've I've written down somewhere that there were thousands of convictions during that period. So if we extend it to, you know, over 100 years, then we're, we're talking 10s of thousands of men. Here. In the UK, it's [00:17:37] around [00:17:39] 50,000 men that were convicted under that under the law, and trying to period that we deal with in the play. So there's a lot of men affected. That's, you know, that, that I've lived with this for so long that and it's taken so long for it to change. [00:18:00] And a lot of families that have these men probably don't know about it. So even if they have passed away, if they don't know about it, then they're not going to apply for for a pardon on some of the families on they want to face face that either. So yeah, it's a fact that a lot of people and for it's taken this long as is, is quite horrific, really. [00:18:27] So what hooked you into this particular topic to for your first full length play? What was it that drew you in? [00:18:35] Well, I've written fall into place before, it's just the first one that that has gone on, I thought it was so current that it needed to have developed into let's try and get on stage. [00:18:49] As soon as soon as I as I could, I was since I was happy with it. [00:18:55] I just I don't consider myself a political person really in like everyday life. But my writing seems to always have political things, I always seem to need a purpose, for a play. And for this, the purpose was so strong and so current that I, I felt like it I needed to be written. And I don't I didn't feel like it had been put the size or had been touched by anyone else on stage or on screen. So I thought it was it. Yeah, I thought it was important, important enough to write a full length bland had enough in it for a full length play. It probably has enough in it for several plays. [00:19:41] Yeah, but this is, this is the culmination of, of years of work. And yeah, I'm pretty I'm pretty pleased with with how it's been received, and and how it and the messages that it that it puts across now. [00:19:59] Can you talk tweet about the differences between writing the safe for a rainbow queer audience and writing for a mainstream audience. And yet, what those differences are? [00:20:13] Well, I think an audience has to connect with themes and, and they have to connect with the characters. So if I was to write [00:20:23] a play with the same themes, but [00:20:27] featuring characters that were not from the rainbow community, I don't, I don't feel like people would connect as much, and to the, to the characters, all the things because they wouldn't believe that the characters would connect to those themes, either. So I feel like [00:20:45] to relate to a ceramic unity that has to feature characters that they recognize, and believe that those characters have a passion for those themes, and have been affected by those themes. So I think you, you have to, you have to know what your audience is, and whether they will be interested in, in the characters and the and the supply has been put together. So you were writing [00:21:19] specifically for a rainbow audience? [00:21:23] Yes, yes. But also, I feel it's important for, for everyone to, to, to know about these things. I do feel like a lot of people within the rainbow community don't know the extent to, [00:21:39] to how these laws have affected people, especially younger people who've who've grown up in a [00:21:47] community that that hasn't had these laws. [00:21:52] And I feel like our, our audience has, has been an older audience who's still remember people and Stanislaus that [00:22:03] the effect of those people, it will be great to get a younger audience, I think [00:22:10] get them interested in how history is affected where they are now, because it definitely has affected the world that we live in today. So yeah, I think everyone needs to know about these things, especially if we want to continue changing the law it's only had its [00:22:31] first read through past so it isn't actually in law yet in New Zealand even though it is in the UK. So it still needs work and and even the fact that we have to you have to apply for [00:22:46] for it's it's a treat to have your record expunged raises issues as well, especially for people who environment still embarrassed about it. [00:22:56] What about the marketing of the play, and also getting sponsorship for the play? Is it harder if it's a rainbow play, [00:23:05] I feel like you there are specific organizations that [00:23:10] are able to help the rainbow community which is great, we we got funding from real Foundation, and rainbow New Zealand which which has really helped, especially with the Transform, it was really it was quite expensive taking bring actors down from Auckland, putting up here, podiums so that they can, you know, stay here, especially if they're not working at the time whilst they're here. So it's been essential that we got funding, but the play has specific enough and has political issues that still needs to be addressed. I feel like those organizations really saw what the so the importance in those issues and that's why we we got funding from them and thought that the the patrons and their their networks would support it as well. [00:24:02] So will display the be seen in other services around New Zealand. [00:24:07] And there's no plans as of yet. We're hoping that we can kind of underneath UK at some points. [00:24:17] I'm approaching tests and producers over there to see if we can get it on it. It's it would be a big job producing wise to try and get a kiwi company to go over to the to the UK but I mean, there are often nobody's that would help with that. But it's so hard to take things abroad. I was hard enough getting funding to bring it down here. And I think it does, it's it's the things are worth publicizing all over New Zealand and some of the reviews that we got, it also said that it deserves to be on every major sensor in the world. [00:25:00] So that wasn't it was a similar view and audience members said that they should they should be in every major city, [00:25:07] which [00:25:09] I would agree with it because there are still places where these laws are still in place never minds. Man was with with convictions. There are still men being convicted, and some countries even now. So it's really important. [00:25:27] What have you taken from the play? You know, you've obviously written that research that when you see it being performed on stage when you see the audience reactions, what do you take away from it? [00:25:39] I've learned a lot about but especially i mean i researching the players been so fun and learning about the world of Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde completely different worlds and some of the [00:25:58] some of the history of the things that they've actually quotes that they've said and [00:26:03] places that they've been a stories of those places has been really interesting and and try and really trying to recreate the that's those places and those situations on stage has been really fun. audience reaction [00:26:25] I think has been what what I hoped for was that people laugh and at the comedy and don't hold themselves back. [00:26:36] And you speaking to people afterwards and answer and reading reviews, they they get what the messages are they get the characters and they are touched by the the themes. So [00:26:52] I feel like I've succeeded and what I want it on already to get from it but also succeeded in creating all sense of characters that people relate to and know from their own knowledge of of those characters. And, and connect to them and and feel for what they've gone through.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.