Breaking the norms

Issue 

Breaking the norms

By Sabina Nowak

ADELAIDE — Two short plays by David Paul Jobling, The grip and Grown-up's playroom, were performed together at the Space Theatre from September 21 to 25.

The grip, previously performed at the South Australian Writers' Gallery and the Melbourne Fringe Festival, is an evocative piece set in the middle ages.

It illustrates how women's magic was (is?) undervalued and declared evil by the men of the church, as are women who do not conform to men's rule. Starring Catherine Carter and Peter J. McGill, it traces the lives of three women, mother, daughter and grand-daughter, under "the grip" of a male-dominated society.

Grown-up's playroom was written with World AIDS Day 1993 in mind. David Paul's character, an HIV-positive bisexual man, is on the brink of suicide from the pressures of a society whose values limit him — as a man, as a bisexual and as someone infected with the virus.

It is not until he looks inside himself and finds two figments of his imagination — a dead woman and a banished fairy (played by Carter and McGill) — that he is able to empower himself and subvert society's judgments of him and his lifestyle.

Jobling, himself a bisexual with HIV, reflected on both his own experience and that of his friends in the creation of Grown-up's playroom, and likens it to The grip, as both attempt to explore the judgmental images associated with people who do not fit in with society's norms of "good woman" and "good man".