37 Ways To Say I’m Gay is the new play from award-winning writer and directorWayne Tunks. Tunks is fast making a name for himself as one of this country’s top independent theatre writers with several successful plays already under his belt including The Subtle Art of Flirting, We’ll Always Have Wagga, The Bridesmaid Must Die! and, this year’s runaway hit, The Burlesque Effect as well as the gay-themed hits Silvertop Ash and Go West.
With 12 actors playing 92 characters, in no less than 29 short plays, if it’s value for money you’re after, you’ll get a lot more than you bargained for with this honest, stimulating and perceptive look at what it has meant to be gay since mankind emerged from caves.
If you think 29 short plays crammed into one night seems like a lot, you would be right, but when handled well, each of the 29 acts rolls seamlessly into the next.
Right from the get-go, you garner a sense of where Tunks intends to take us. Sometimes it’s confronting, other times it’s humorous, acerbic, witty, painful and wrenching to watch, but mostly it’s authentic. His characters include a homophobic father who would rather his son admit to a drug problem than admit to being gay, a mother who knew all along, a successful TV actor who hides his sexuality to keep his star on the rise, a dying son whose status is revealed at the same time as his HIV status, a son who comes out in a suicide note and politicians whose careers are saved by spin doctors. 37 Ways To Say I’m Gay has it all and more.
Whether deliberate or not, Tunks avoids moralistic rants. Neither does he proffer up a series of sob stories about what it’s like to be gay. Instead, he offers a more humanistic view, that is much more tangible and relatable, and less incongruous. He paints a marvelous, uniquely magnanimous picture that strikes at the core of basic human instincts.
Sometimes when important issues such as gay rights are pummeled to death in the media, they lose gravity. What with all the politicking that goes on, it’s not surprising that our attention is sometimes diverted or that we sometimes lose our sensitivity, especially when it’s not a part of our reality.
Tunks, together with a fine cast of young actors, take us on an intimate, behind the scenes look at the everyday dramas we don’t see on the 6 o’clock news or on any reality TV show.
It’s the kind of drama that gets played out in living rooms, boardrooms, schools and football fields across the country and around the world every day, year after year, and mostly in private, away from prying, judgmental eyes. What we do see is merely a microcosm of what really goes on.
Tunks goes a long way to debunk some of the stereotypes and the stigma that surrounds being gay, with a few very cleverly crafted surprises thrown in for good measure that serve not only to keep us on our toes, but to keep us thinking, to keep us feeling and perhaps most importantly, to keep the dialogue open.
His characters (all 92 of them) are people we know or have known. They portray us at our best and worst. And through each of the 29 plays we are reminded that real change begins with acceptance and real change is helped on when it is accompanied only by understanding because TV, for all its ‘far sight’ simply does not have the power to infiltrate or change the attitudes of that many people, in that many lounge rooms and boardrooms the world over. That needs to start with us.
Tunks holds up a mirror to our times. And he does it successfully.
Date: Sun 15 Jan – Sun 5 Feb
Time: Thu-Sat 8:30pm, Sun 5pm
Price: Full $30; Concession $26; Group 8+ $25
Duration: 120 minutes approx.