Theatre Studies students put on hard-hitting ‘Blackrock’ as annual play

Published 30 September 2019

UNE Theatre Study students will drive home an important message around consent and violence against women when their new annual production, Blackrock – a play by the well-known Australian playwright Nick Enright – opens this week.

Blackrock is an award-winning play developed by Enright in response to the real life brutal rape and murder of 14-year old student Leigh Leigh in Stockton Beach in Newcastle, NSW in 1989.

“The Universities Australia Respect.Now.Always. campaign strives to ensure students and staff are safe from sexual harassment and assault. It has highlighted the imperative for UNE to foster a culture of respect and to challenge and confront poor behaviour,” Lisa Goldzieher, director and lecturer in Theatre Studies said.

“By choosing Blackrock for this year’s production, we hope to generate positive conversation and engagement around issues of consent, sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Enright closely worked with the Stockton community to create the play, fictionalising the events into drama. He chose not to enact the actual rape and murder scenes on stage. He also made a clear ethical choice not to include a character who represents the victim.

“This is not a play about Tracy, the fictionalised Leigh Leigh,” Lisa said.

“In the tradition of Greek tragedy, it is about society facing itself and taking a long, hard look at its prejudices, uses and abuses of language, and its conflicts and anxieties surrounding gender.”

The University community has already shown great interest in the contemporary classic with Mary White College electing to use some of their Respect.Now.Always. funding to take their residents to the show.

“We’re hoping the other colleges will do likewise as it is a great opportunity to generate conversation about how we can make a difference,” Lisa said.

The raw, gritty drama explores prejudice and discrimination, collective violence and the construction of masculinity in Australian culture. It offers more than just a different perspective regarding the trauma associated with sexual assault and violence against women. It provides a platform to continue the conversation and ask questions about how and why these things happen.

Blackrock will feature original live music by Stephen Harris and local music teacher Dave Eddy.

For those who like their Theatre thought provoking, cathartic and exploding with spectacle, this is a production not to be missed!

Tickets are on sale from The show will run from Wednesday, 2 October to Saturday, 5 October. It will take place in the UNE Arts Theatre and start at 7.30pm. There will also be a matinee performance on Saturday at 11.00am. Members of the community are very welcome to attend.

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