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(Not just) Another Dead Fag

Tue 29 Oct 2013 In: Performance View at NDHA

The suicide of a gay teenager will be tackled head on in the provocatively named Another Dead Fag, which plays in Auckland this week. It’s the latest work from talented young playwright Sam Brooks, writer of Queen and Mab’s Room. Another Dead Fag lands us in the wake of the death of Sebastian, affectionately known as Seb, as his older cousin, sister and boyfriend gather together to pick up what’s left behind. Blame and guilt are being tossed around, but they start to piece together the mystery of Seb’s life to find the reasons behind his suicide. It’s a play that unabashedly explores one of our worst-kept, most painful secrets. We know that LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers, and you don’t need to ask far to find a person who has lost someone – you may have yourself. Another Dead Fag approaches gay teen suicide from the idea that suicide is not something that can be simply written off or chalked down to one thing, such as somebody’s sexuality, even if that is a key factor in many suicides. “There are no plays that are tackling this issue, especially in New Zealand”, says Brooks, the writer. “Suicide is a real problem that needs to be talked about. Awareness is the first step in changing things, and we’re already so far behind the curve where that’s concerned.” Chris Parker plays Cai, Seb's gay older cousin Actor Chris Parker plays Cai, Seb’s older cousin, someone who is openly-gay and has been for some time. He is a role model of sorts for Seb, and placed on a pedestal by the gay youngster – even though he may not be the best person to be so. “Seb is this really inexperienced, naïve but really excited young guy and is just looking for someone who might lead him in the right direction. “The closest person to him is my character Cai, but Cai’s actually not dealt with his sexuality in the right way and hasn’t accepted in the way he should have. “He’s actually not a really great role model for Seb in the end.” Parker says New Zealand’s suicide statistics are shocking and sad, but likes it that the play looks beyond the clichéd and dangerous assumption ‘oh he killed himself because he was gay’. “That’s encapsulated by the title Another Dead Fag – he’s more than just another dead fag, he’s a young man who had a life and friendship. He was a great person and he was a shit friend sometimes. “We don’t want to make him another statistic, and none of us want to be another statistic. I think it’s something that where you’re gay, Polynesian , straight, married, whatever, it’s nice to feel you belong to a group, but you don’t want to make that everything about you. That’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this play.” Parker says the characters Brooks has created are complex, and the writer’s reputation of being provocative, while writing great material for actors, is genuine. “It’s so exciting for an actor, to be in a work like this, where we’re talking about something extremely important, that is also written in a way that’s so exciting and fast and sharp and loaded with all these different emotions and agendas.” He says the play doesn’t feel ‘Hollywood gay’ but rather “It feels New Zealand and Pacific and young, it feels like it’s written for people our age.” Parker says it’s not often a new writer emerges so strongly and makes such an impact at such an early stage. “And he’s brave. He’s writing about some really provocative stuff. And you can be knocked over for that. And people can be cynical about that, joking about the title or whatever. “But beyond that cynicism, he’s actually trying to say something really profound. It’s a challenge for people to put their misconceptions aside and just go in with an open mind and listen. “Because it’s important, it’s happening. And we need to understand why it’s happening.” Another Dead Fag October 29‐November 2, 7PM The Basement Studio, $20 On 30 October $10 from each ticket sold will be donated to Rainbow Youth. If you need to talk, there is help out there. Please call OUTLine on 0800 OUTLINE, or Rainbow Youth on (09) 376 4155. After hours you can call the 24 hour Depression helpline: 0800 111 757. Jacqui Stanford - 29th October 2013    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Tuesday, 29th October 2013 - 9:02am

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