How fresh are your memories of having “The Talk” with a well-meaning adult? What about having to give The Talk to a teenager who has so many questions? Gita Bezard of the Independent Theatre Company The Last Great Hunt has written perhaps the most pertinent show for young teens trying to navigate the unknown world of sex and sexual education.
Bezard was actually working on another show with her colleagues – about female sexuality – when she started developing ideas for The Talk. It was then that she began to be interested in the conversations we have about sex with teenagers. A lot of us are still quite afraid to talk to teenagers about it:
Teenagers now can access hardcore pornography. We can’t control what they see, so we should really be opening up that conversation more.
In a world that has moved on from asking Dolly Doctor and secretly opening the sealed sections in magazines to read about exotic words like ‘orgasm’ and ‘oral sex’ we need to be more honest and open and stop treating sex like it is still taboo. So much about sexual education is focused on heteronormative ways to avoid STDs and pregnancy. Nothing is mentioned about pleasure, or even if it’s being done correctly. This is highlighted in The Talk when Eva is asked what her experience with oral sex was like and she revealed that she only gave and didn’t receive. This myth that sex is all about male pleasure is perpetuated by the typical conversation surrounding the issue.
Bezard acknowledges the Generation Gap as a major contributor to this lack of connection with the youth of today.
The technology revolution is as big as the Industrial revolution – it has changed every single aspect of our lives. The generation of young people now are the first ones to experience that technology. I remember when we first got a home computer…so there’s not much age gap, yet these young people have always had computers and iPads
The accessibility of pornography and sexual imagery bombarding young people all the time is actually halting the conversation as young girls would rather learn their sexual techniques (read: how to pleasure a man) through watching porn.
It can be quite damaging, in the way that women are treated in that material. It’s never about them. It teaches girls to be there for male pleasure, which I think is something that’s always existed but it’s just another level now.
The Talk explores the idea of women/girls seeking their own sexual pleasure. It’s not overt – they don’t bash you over the head with a dildo or anything, yet it just puts the information out there. In an era of more female sexual empowerment with television shows like Orange Is the New Black and American Horror Story (well, some of it!) theatre has to keep up with the demand, lest it become stale. These shows are starting to open up a conversation about women’s bodies and how it’s ok to want sex.
The Talk never set out to cover everything, though. Bezard is constantly bombarded with questions – have you covered this, have you covered that? Does it reference the #metoo movement? It’s a big show that covers a lot but at its heart, is a character-driven work with a main character who you can’t help but love.
It’s about a girl who’s had a questionable sexual experience and the whole school finds out and she’s very reluctant to talk about it. So, she kind of goes on this journey and it’s really fun. She becomes more and more active as it goes on – taking charge of her sexual empowerment.
It’s definitely a comedy – not serious. Comedy is a clever vehicle to highlight the major issues of the world and Bezard finds that balance easily. She really just likes comedy, but didn’t want it to become a serious, angsty teenage work. There are a lot of Chinese Whispers going around and it’s a lot more fun than if it was a lecture.
I just love satire as a way to highlight what I want to say.
And we couldn’t agree more! The Talk is a hilarious work that really shows the language and attitudes surrounding sex can be confusing and cryptic. Perhaps it’s time to pull back the curtains and actually have an open conversation?
Interview | Laura Money
WHEN: 11 – 21 April 2018 | 7:30pm
WHERE: Subiaco Arts Centre
INFO: Tickets $22 – $28 | Duration 60 mins | Suitable 14+ | Coarse language, sexual themes | THEATRE