The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

03/10/2018 - 06/10/2018

Production Details

Daughters is a play made up of 9 female monologues, each exploring aspects of teenage life. Written in the 80s by award winning writer Maya Levy, Daughters still speaks relevant today. The text explores themes of self-judgement, addiction, power, and relationships. Each character battling life in her unique way.

But there is a twist. Kelly has cast young men to perform these ‘female’ monologues to challenge gender norms and to explore a human experience through a different lens.

“We are all human. But for the majority of us, whether right or wrong, the gender society see us as has shaped our experiences – sometimes hugely,” says Kelly.

“In our fight for equality I feel we are neglecting to tell young men it’s ok to be feminine, to be gentle, to cry and to be vulnerable.”

Kelly’s aim is to allow each cast member to truly understand the character, and to be as honest as possible to both the character and themselves when performing. To aid this process a group of young women are working alongside these young men to provide their own perspectives on the characters and to share their own personal experiences with each other.

Kelly admits it’s a risk, but hopes people will see past their ideas on gender and allow themselves to be drawn in to each experience, with an understanding that we are all alike, human, and experience the same things.

“I think that this show is important for young men to see, as it highlights the insidious nature of institutionalised sexism, which shapes how young women grow up,” says company member Ellie Hodder (That Bloody Woman – Centrepoint Theatre, God Awful Company – MUDS)

Kelly discovered the play at high school when her drama class, at an all girls’ school, had to perform it. She found the play challenging, moving, intense, and extremely thought provoking.

Ten years later, she is excited to be bringing it to Palmerston North, and pushing the boundaries even further. With conversations about gender identity coming in fast and hard in our changing world she is hopeful this piece of work will open the door wide for conversation.

“In an ideal world our sex would not determine how we are treated, and would not be a major factor in how and what we experience. But it does. This show won’t change that. But my hope is that this challenges audiences enough to think about it. My hope is those exceptional young men and women who have gone on this journey with me have learnt to see through a different lens – to look at a human experience from many different angles and understand how and if gender has shaped the person. My hope is these young men and women can continue to challenge that gender should shape experiences.”

The Dark Room, cnr. Church & Pitt Street, Palmerston North
Wednesday 3rd – Saturday 6th October 2018
Tickets: $15-$20
Bookings: 06 354 5740 or centrepoint.co.nz 

Kieran Murphy as Picked
Matt Schaw as Beauty
Callum Goacher as Flying
Finn Davidson as Sport
Finn Maloney as Party
Aaron Whale as Sushi
Aryaman Parulkar as Family
Kobi Shearer as Mud
Léon Bristow as Gift.

Molly Sheridan, Rosheen Leslie, Hannah Zimmerman, Nomuna Amarbat, Rachel McLean, Ellie Hodder, Grace Hadfield, Shannen Peterson and Indy Henman. 

Theatre ,

Quirky, nuanced, genuinely personal and sometimes painful

Review by Adam Dodd 04th Oct 2018

Originally published in the mid-80s, the themes and concerns explored in Maya Levy’s Daughters are still all too relevant to a modern audience. A powerful portrayal of the lives of nine young women, the stories shared run from delightful to horrifying. They explore ideas of identity and self-worth (claimed and ascribed) along with interpersonal relationships, both familial and romantic.

Given this is only her second public production, Daughters demonstrates a remarkable proficiency on the part of director Jenna Kelly. Intelligently crafted, insightful and heartfelt, Daughters speaks to the complexity of human experience and the myriad journeys of young adults exploring their identities and independence under the shadow of their parents’ influences.

In performance Daughters is an impressive delivery from a troupe of talented young actors – notably male actors. Also notable, no attempt is made to disguise the performers’ masculinity through costume. Gender exchanges are a familiar device for subverting gendered conventions, helping to establish reception of the characters circumstances as human experiences rather than gendered experiences. Kelly takes this a step further in allowing the masculine element to develop a parallel exploration of men’s emotional vulnerability.

Given the material there is a certain amount of risk in this but care has been taken to shape the monologues collaboratively, drawing on the insight of women within the local community. While there are moments where the performers struggle to achieve authenticity or show some emotional disconnect, this can be forgiven. Overall the characterisations are accomplished with a great deal of sensitivity and awareness; crafting manner and exchange to breathe life into the intimate confessions while establishing identity and rapport.

Each of the performances shows much worth commending, so I will refrain from singling out particular individuals. On top of this, audience members will find chords struck by the differing stories. I suspect opening night nerves are rampant where lines feel ill-hewn and hurried. Given the depth and ability shown by each of the cast I have no doubt that further refinement and emotional texturing will come quickly over the course of the production season.

A minor criticism: nuances of vernacular run afoul of attempts to localise select monologues into the New Zealand context. A subtle issue but one I find distracting over the course of successive deliveries. In keeping with Levy’s values it would have been better to just embrace a global collage.

Quirky and nuanced, but also genuinely personal and at times painful, Daughters is a significant insight into experiences of young women over the last two generations. Showing at about an hour and a half long, inclusive of interval.  


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