Just a Boy, Standing in Front of a Girl
Set and Costume Design
John Marc Desengano
Glenn van Oosterom
4 to 15 August 2021
45 Flinders Lane
Just a Boy, Standing in Front of a Girl is an adaptation of Medea and is recommended for anyone 15+. The production contains a loud firearm effect and scenes depicting bullying and sexual harassment that some viewers may find disturbing. The work also includes stylized and verbal representations of murder and violence.
Just a Boy, Standing in Front of a Girl looks at serious, often dark, material through a tragicomic lens that combines elements of subversive humour, feminism and pop culture and has its genesis in our desire to adapt a second classical work as a follow-up to Motherf##ker, our 2014 adaptation of Oedipus. In the process of investigating existing adaptations of Medea, often by male writers, I became frustrated with the depiction of the central female character. Medea is almost always portrayed as irrational and driven almost exclusively by sexual jealousy. I became interested in the world she and female characters of her ilk inhabit in literature, history and mythology. This led me to reflect on the patriarchal foundation of our society, its impact on all genders and the way we operate in the world, both consciously and unconsciously. We see on a daily basis the different standards to which we hold each other based on traditional ideas of gender. As the play developed, it was surprising just how resonant its classically-drawn themes remained in relation to the discourse around gender politics in contemporary society, particularly in very recent times.
Using a comedic lens for an adaptation of Medea was always going to be tricky and audiences will judge how well it lands for them. I can say as the writer that the intent was never to justify or ridicule the serious themes and events of the classical play. Comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin and in this work the use of humour attempts to illuminate the darker aspects of the piece, bringing them into sharper focus, and stimulate an ongoing conversation. I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t write a version of Medea where the central event is simply the act of a woman scorned. I don’t believe that story and, for me, it trivialises what remains among the most fundamental of transgressions. Just a Boy, Standing in Front of a Girl asks why and how the unimanginable can happen and what complicity if any, we share as a community and society.
Like any writer for performance, I do nothing alone. This work is the result of a three-year collaborative process and my love and thanks to my creative partner Beng and our family of artists who so generously contributed their ideas, talent and time.
To laugh is not to condone. Jane’s writing sails close to the edge but it has a truth within it, even as it satirises and skewers the patriarchal power structures that shape our world. Comedy and humour are her tools to illuminate the absurdities, imbalances and unfairness of what it is to be a woman in a man’s world.
On a different note, whilst it is trite to say that COVID-19 and lockdown has been hard for many and for the arts in particular, it has been a challenge realising this production. I want to thank the actors and the creative team for their hard work, their talent, their juggling of disrupted schedules, their willingness to participate in Zoom rehearsals and meetings, their goodwill and their generosity.
With many thanks to Daniel Barca, Jacob Battista, Keith Brockett, Caitlin Dullard, Maureen Hartley, Mary Lou Jelbart, Liz Jones, Zac Kazepis, Michelle Odgers, Sam and Lukas Quinlan, Dans Maree Sheehan, Felicity Steel and to everyone at Fortyfivedownstairs, HotHouse Theatre, La Mama Theatre, Richmond Uniting Church and Siteworks for their support.
Set and Costume Designer
Emily is a set and costume designer whose practice comprises live performance, film, television and costume research. Recent design credits include Hello, World! (Malthouse Theatre), Control (Red Stitch Actor’s Theatre), A Little Night Music (Watch This), and Niche (Elbow Room Productions). Emily was nominated for a Green Room Award for Dream Home (Northcote Town Hall), and The Art of Making Art with Watch This, has received grants from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust and ArtStart, and has participated in Malthouse Theatre’s Besen Family Artist Program and Melbourne Theatre Companies’ Women in Theatre Program. A PhD candidate and tutor in design at The Victorian College of the Arts, her research focuses on the topic of costume for performance as a cultural marker, specifically in relation to Australian identity and reconciliation.
John Collopy is a lighting and visual designer, whose work for the stage has been seen in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane. His lighting design credits include Animal Farm; The Market is a Wind Up Toy; Paradise Lost; The Nose (The Bloomshed); The Human Voice (Periscope Productions and Choral Edge); Bodylex (Dancehouse/Rhys Ryan); New Balance and The Other Place (Before Shot and Theatre Works); Norma and Otello (Melbourne Opera); Sensory Decadence and Kilter (One Fell Swoop Circus); Slaughterhouse Five (Theatre Works/Monash Uni Student Theatre); Helping Hands (A_tistic/La Mama); Wrath (Baker’s Dozen Theatre/JackRabbit Theatre); 80 Minutes No Interval (Theatre Works/Hot Mess Productions); Marie Antoinette (Heartstring Theatre); The Man Who Cannot Sleep (White Night/Magic Lantern Studio/Sanctum Theatre); Too Ready Mirror (Darebin Arts Speakeasy); Ironbound; Hurlyburly; and Shining City (Q44 Theatre). He is an founding member of A_tistic, a theatre company committed to putting neurodiverse stories on stage.
John Marc Desengano
John Marc Desengano is a Filipino born actor, improviser and educator. Upon graduating from The University of Ballarat, Arts Academy in 2008, John Marc has performed in many theatre productions around Melbourne and internationally. A few of John Marc’s stage credits include The Yellow Wave, Love Bird, The Bachelor S17 E05, Survival, RUR 2020, Just A Boy Standing in Front of a Girl, Enlightenment, A Midnight Visit, and many more. He also performed in The Dead Twin, written by Chi Vu, at the Georgetown Festival in Malaysia. His TV credits include Rush, Playing for Keeps S2, Lie With Me and Back in Very Small Business. John Marc is a proud company member of Impro Melbourne and Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare. He also works as a teaching artist and lead artist at St. Martin’s Youth Theatre and Western Edge Youth Arts respectively.
After completing a bachelor degree in architecture at the University of Western Australia, Sam relocated to Melbourne in 2019 to commence studies in a Master of Design for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts with a focus on set and lighting design. Projects include set design for Earthquakes in London (VCA Acting Company 2020), set, costume, lighting and vision design for Abyss (Independent Directors Project, VCA 2020), co-design for SWAG (2019 Prague Quadrennial – Australian Students Exhibit) and associate lighting design for On The Town (VCA Music Theatre Company, 2019). Sam was the recipient of the 2019 University of Melbourne Orloff Family Charitable Trust Scholarship for excellence in production.
Ben is a Melbourne composer, producer and sound designer. He graduated with distinction from the RMIT Digital Media course and was awarded the RMIT Higher Education Award in 2016, he currently is a course coordinator in RMITs Design school. His previous theatre sound design credits include working with MTC, Expressions Dance Company, Fortyfivedownstairs and Melbourne Shakespeare Company. In addition to being a collaborator with Beng Oh, he is also a member of Finucane Smith, composing for Intimate 8 for NGV and The Flood at XiXi international theatre festival in Shanghai. In 2019 he contributed to the Prague Quadrennial. He has composed for several film projects, such as 2019’s The Case Of The Shanghaied Songbird, and the ongoing independent animated series StarQuest.
Annie is an actor, presenter and comic working in Melbourne/Naarm. Select theatre credits include Little Daughters, Coloured Aliens, Three Sisters (La Mama), Motherf#cker, Just a Boy Standing in Front of a Girl (15 Minutes From Anywhere), Bock Kills Her Father (She Said Theatre Co.) and a tour throughout Asia and Europe with Backyard Theatre Ensemble’s production of Missing In Me. TV credits include Neighbours and Why Are You Like This (ABC). Annie created and performed sketch show This Is Our Pilot alongside Lena Moon, which was nominated for Best Comedy at Melbourne Fringe Festival 2019. The girls turned selected sketches from the show into an online series titled Annie & Lena. This year they completed a sold-out season of their Melbourne International Comedy Festival debut with production This Is Our Show.
Andrea trained with The Actor’s Company in London and The Rehearsal Room, 16th Street Actors Studio and PEM Studios in Melbourne. Theatre credits include Requiem for the 20th Century for Theatre @ Risk, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Copenhagen, The Merchant of Venice and Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth for PMD Productions, How I Learned to Drive and Quills for Mockingbird Theatre, Savage in Limbo for Q44 Theatre, three seasons of The Yellow Wave for 15 Minutes From Anywhere and the inaugural season of Just a Boy, Standing in Front of a Girl. On TV, Andrea’s appearances include Preacher, Five Bedrooms, House Husbands and The Doctor Blake Mysteries. Andrea is playing the lead role of Lydia in feature film The Rip, which she co-created.
A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, Jane’s work has been produced within Australia and internationally. Plays include Happily Ever After (La Mama), True Love Travels on Gravel Road (15 Minutes from Anywhere / Fortyfivedownstairs), Motherf##ker (La Mama Courthouse/15 Minutes from Anywhere), The Yellow Wave (The Poppy Seed Festival 2015/La Mama Courthouse 2017)and Cuckoo (15 Minutes from Anywhere / Fortyfivedownstairs, 2015 / The Unknown Union 2017). Jane is a recipient of an R.E. Ross Playwrights Script Development Award for True Love Travels on a Gravel Road and a Green Room Award nominee for independent writing for Cuckoo.
As a dramaturg, Jane’s credits include Shit Happens (La Mama 50th Anniversary) by Sandy MacGregor and P.O.V Dave (La Mama) by Noel Maloney. Jane is co-artistic director of independent theatre company, 15 Minutes from Anywhere.
Beng is a critically regarded director and theatre maker who has staged a wide range of productions. He’s passionate about diversity, new work and queer theatre. He trained at the Victorian College of the Arts and is a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab in New York. He is co-artistic director of 15 Minutes from Anywhere Inc. He also collaborates with playwright Daniel Keene on the Keene Oh Theatre Workshop. Notable productions include Soul of Possum (YIRRAMBOI and Castlemaine State Festival 2021); Wild Cherries by Daniel Keene (La Mama Courthouse 2019); Cuckoo by Jane Miller and Coloured Aliens by Chi Vu (both productions nominated for 2018 Green Room Awards for Writing); The Yellow Wave by Jane Miller (nominated Green Room Award for Outstanding Ensemble 2015); The 2016 Lotus Readings for Playwriting Australia; Mein Kampf by George Tabori (La Mama 2013, Fortyfivedownstairs 2014) ; Tom Fool (aka Mensch Meier) by Franz Xaver Kroetz (Hoy Polloy 2009) and Porcelain by Chay Yew (nominated Green Room Award for Directing 2008). Beng is on the committee of management for La Mama Theatre and is an associate of Contemporary Asian Australian Performance.
Glenn van Oosterom
A proud member of the 15 Minutes from Anywhere company, Glenn’s recent credits include Patalog Theatre’s Tusk Tusk as well as the feature Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears. A National Theatre Graduate, Glenn has been fortunate enough to perform nationally through a variety of projects, including: HIT Production’s The Sum of Us, Essential Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the titular role in Romeo & Juliet for the Australian Shakespeare Company; premiere Franz Xaver Kroetz’s Tom Fool with Beng Oh, explore Marcel & Albertine for Stork Theatre, launch Jane Miller’s True Love Travels on a Gravel Road and play a critically-acclaimed young Hitler in Tabori’s Mein Kampf. Regular touring to rural Australia to promote mental health with HealthPlay’s Out of the Blue. Additional screen credits include, Limelight International’s The Stolen, Terry Pratchett & Snowgum Films’ Troll Bridge, Bed of Roses, Rush and the web-series Clique. Voice work includes radio, TVCs, documentaries, animation, television, short films and the web-series Optimism Bias.
Gabriel is an actor and performance-maker based in Melbourne on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people. Recent acting credits include Three Sisters (La Mama 2021), Soul of Possum (YIRRAMBOI Festival & Castlemaine State Festival 2021), Rust (Midsumma Festival 2020), Marie Antoinette (Northcote Town Hall 2018), Ellida (La Mama 2018), and The City They Burned (Brisbane Festival 2015). He has worked with companies including Attic Erratic, Black Hole Theatre, Complete Works, Four Larks, Heartstring Theatre, Malthouse, Optic Nerve and TBC Theatre. Gabriel is also an actor for film, television & corporate multi-media, and as a performance-maker, regularly collaborates with The Indirect Object (Australian tour 2019, Footscray Community Arts Centre 2018, Taipei Artist Village 2017, Prague Quadrennial 2015). He graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2009 and enjoys long walks, cooking, and feeding the neighbour’s cat when no-one is looking. This is Gabriel’s second collaboration with 15 Minutes from Anywhere following POV Dave at La Mama in 2016. He is delighted to be working with the team again.
Teri is a freelance stage and production manager, who has worked on a wide variety of independent shows in Melbourne since relocating here in 2017. She trained in Brisbane and Toowoomba in music, theatre, and technical theatre. She has worked both on and off the stage across a variety of disciplines and genres. Most recently, Teri stage managed King Lear at Fortyfivedownstairs for Melbourne Shakespeare Company. She is thrilled to be back in theatres again after so long, and delighted to be working with 15 Minutes From Anywhere once again.