NAME: KERRY BOWDEN // SHOW: VENEER
Why did you decide to stage your show at Summer Nights?
I decided to stage VENEER at Summer Nights because it is a curated program where inclusion in the show is based on artistic merit. The creative team also embraced the opportunity to perform at The Blue Room Theatre because of its fantastic reputation for showcasing high quality new works, its location in the cultural hub of Northbridge, the publicity and promotional initiatives available for the production and the professional development and mentoring opportunities afforded to artists.
What is a Men’s Shed?
A Men’s Shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard that has long been a part of Australian culture. Men’s Sheds are springing up all around Australian communities and provide a place where men of all ages and backgrounds can come together in the context of a workshop environment. Men have access to wood work and metal work facilities and participate in a range of activities which often include doing work for the community. It is also a place for men to develop friendships, enhance their health and wellbeing, develop intergenerational relationships and become involved in mentoring programs. It is a place where men can work on a project of their choice and at the same time be in a supportive environment that fosters a spirit of mateship.
Tell us a little bit about your show.
Veneer tells the story of Abe, a seventeen year old troubled youth who has committed a serious offence. The Department of Juvenile Justice issued him a Community Service Court Oder where he is required to complete three months in a local Men’s Shed. Although initially very reluctant and negative about attending, he gradually develops friendships and trust with the other men in the group. Weaving loss, hope and joy the play illuminates the power of mateship and the sharing of stories often hidden beneath the veneer of men’s lives
What inspired you to develop this work?
I was inspired to develop this work as I have seen on so many occasions the power of intergenerational relationships. I have always been impressed by the healing nature of providing at –risk youth with some sort of a mentor or older male figure, particularly in the absence of a father. I have worked in high schools where many of the teenagers I have taught come from entrenched disadvantage and lack the necessary support when things go horribly wrong. The play also focuses on the tensions that exist between Abe and his mother, Elise, who is a single parent. I tried to show the challenges of parenting, particularly when the lives of children take a very negative turn. Hopefully the play captures both the hardships and joys of Abe’s journey and his mother’s response to it. I also like the concept of the word ‘veneer’, where so much can be hidden under the surface of a strong exterior, particularly in the lives of men. I wanted to explore how in the context of a men’s group or community Mens’ Shed barriers can be broken down and untold stories are slowly shared.