However, this is not the only event to be told, as Stewart informs me there are a number of interesting stories to be told from within these small country towns. "The play is actually three independent stories told simultaneously, with Helendale being just one of them. While we tell the story of the Helendale Hornets photographing their nude calendar, we also delve into the Lynx-scented dynamic of an all-male classroom in Galshank, as well as the events surrounding a hunky celebrity arrival at a caravan park in Karandah Heads. These three stories are all told with a young gay protagonist at the helm," he explains. "As we have been rehearsing, it's been exciting to watch the ways in which these stories illuminate each other. As is the sheer wonder of watching eleven brave, funny, talented guys work together to tell three complex, socially pertinent stories."
Stewart has always found the performativity of masculinity fascinating and there was no better way to explore this idea than through a football club. "It just seemed like an obvious place to observe it in all its sweaty glory. My intrigue regarding the guys that gravitate towards enthusiastic athleticism has its roots in my six years spent at an all boys high school and three years playing local footy," he says. "From then until now I've grappled with understanding their willingness to pursue sporting greatness, or even the prospect of getting up in the morning and looking forward to mud and kicking and perspiration. Additionally, I've always thought there to be something quite bafflingly transfixing about the ungenerous stoicism of the classically male conversation – a staple of the Helendale clubroom."
The eleven males who have been cast for this production have been working hard in rehearsals at creating the 'mateship' so prevalent in football culture. "The cast and I have spent a lot of time talking about the idea of camaraderie, and the ways that men behave when they're in particular groups and situations. Many of them have never been part of a team sport, and so conveying notions of 'squadly mateship' and the locker-room environment has brought about some real fascinating conversation," Stewart tells me. "At this point we've kind of pinpointed the resident experts within the cast when it comes to any questions relating to the matey, football team dynamic necessary for the play to work. As such, we've developed a real vocabulary for observing, explaining, and dissecting the behaviour of blokey, sporty mates."
Venue: Bluestone Church Arts Space, 8A Hyde St, Footscray
Season: 24 January - 4 February | Tues - Sat 7pm
Tickets: $24 Full | $19 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival
Photo Credit: Conor Herbert