The publication of a book which features 14 scripts by young regional writers is the culmination of a writers residency held in regional South Australia in 2019 with young writers from across regional Australia.
Myponga resident Emma Richardson was selected to be a part of the writer's residency and her monologue - It's Not a Bad Word - is featured in the book.
The scripts in print will be available to schools and youth theatres across the country.
With the young writers living regionally and Australia wide, the book launch will be held as an online Publication Party, livestreamed through Facebook and YouTube on Thursday, June 4. from 7pm to 8.30 pm.
Everyone is welcome to join and meet the writers.
The title of the book with the 14 scripts is This Was Urgent Yesterday.
It gives voice to regional stories and the next generation of playwrights and reflects the lives and experiences of regional young people, with themes of identity and friendship, grief and loss, and first love.
It is the culmination of a nine day writer's residency co-ordinated by Country Arts SA and Carclew in 2019, in conjunction with Australian Theatre for Young People. The 14 young writers are aged 18-years to 25 years.
Alysha Herrmann, Creative Producer Regional Youth at Country Arts SA and Carclew said it was an amazing group of young writers at last year's residency, who were invested in not only developing their craft of scriptwriting, but also to ensure that regional stories about young people are told alongside those of their city counterparts.
"We are very pleased to see these high-quality scripts published through Currency Press, both in print and online, further supporting the development of the young writers who joined us last year," Ms Hermann said.
"The project gives a voice to young regional writers who write for themselves and their peers when not a lot of young fiction is set in regional Australia. This Was Urgent Yesterday brings regional voices to the fore and shares the experience and insight of what it is to be young in regional Australia."
Writer and theatre maker Emma Richardson has been involved in interactive theatre shows in the past (Arts South Australia Ruby Award finalists Run Zombie, Run and Losing Faith in Unicorns) and is moving to more traditional theatre projects in the near future.
To register to attend the Publication Party on June 4 from 7pm to 8.30pm go to https://www.countryarts.org.au/news/twuy/ or www.carclew.com.au/Program/creative-producer-regionalyouth#tab439
This Was Urgent Yesterday is available for purchase via Currency Press at www.currency.com.au
IT'S NOT A BAD WORD
By Emma Richardson
She'll be on your TV screen, in a show that was filmed before you were born. She'll have red hair. Not bright dyed red, like a firetruck. Not an orange, washed out red. It'll be a deep red. Natural and beautiful. She'll play a nurse, and you'll want so badly to be sick or dying, just so she can come and save you. So she can hold you.
You'll be seven, and you won't understand what you're feeling, all you'll know is that you shouldn't be feeling it. She's a girl and so are you. And you'll know that isn't allowed. In movies, the boy gets the girl, the woman marries the man. It's always a Mum and a Dad in the TV commercials. One day, on the smallest, scrappiest piece of paper you can find, you'll write to her.
"I love you." It will say. Because you will. It'll be that pure, unfiltered love. The love of a little girl who doesn't quite understand what love is, but feels it anyway. You'll fold that paper. You'll fold it as tight and as small as your little fingers can manage. Then you'll hide that little piece of paper. Hide it from your mum, from the world, and from yourself.
Miss Lewis will feel different. You'll be in grade one and think the absolute world of her. You'll never be sure if it's a crush, or just pure adoration. She'll be kind and gentle and never ever make you feel small. You'll want to always be near her, but you won't understand why. In Maths one morning, you'll be learning about basic addition, something you'll already be good at, but still, you'll get every question wrong, because you'll just need some excuse for her to be there, to be with you. You'll be teased. You'll be called a teacher's pet, and a cry baby, along with a mountain of other mean words. So you'll stop. You'll sit quietly and blend in with the sea of blue shirts around you. You'll learn not to stick out. You'll learn to not want whatever it is that you want.
When you're twelve, all you'll want is to disappear. To shrink into yourself and become nothing. You'll be this strange creature that doesn't think the right thoughts or like the right people. Because still, all you'll see is man and woman, boy and girl. What is right, and what's not.
One day, your mum will take you to the beach. You'll go with a friend from school, and his mum will bring her friends, two ladies that you won't know. You'll notice how close they are, and you'll think how you'd never seen two ladies be close. On the drive home, you'll ask your mum something, "Those ladies. Were they friends? Or sisters?..." She'll smile. "They were girlfriends." That term will blow your mind. You'd never heard a girl be called another girls girlfriend before. You'll think if you could have a girlfriend. If you could be someone's girlfriend even if they weren't a boy.
Back at school, riding the high of this new word with new possibilities. The other kids will have a new word too. Gay. And it'll mean bad, stupid, dumb, ugly, or all of them at once. "That's gay." You'll carry that with you, that gay equals bad. It'll be ingrained so deeply in your mind, that if gay equals bad, then that means I'm bad. If gay is wrong then I'm wrong. But you'll question if you even are gay, because you'll still like boys. If you liked boys but also, shamefully, liked girls too. What are you? You'd tear yourself apart over it. Was there something worse than being gay?
You'll live in misery. You'll cry in the shower, and into your pillow. You won't believe in God, but you'll pray to him anyway. To make you straight. To make you normal.
You get lucky though. You'll find a little group, something to use as an escape from your self-hatred and guilt. It'll be drama and theatre and gays and friendship, and you'll finally find some happiness.
There, you'll meet Anna and Ruby. Anna will be funny and sweet, with an impossibly big smile. After your last performance, after the curtain call and after party, when you finally muster up the courage to ask Anna to be your girlfriend. Ruby will get there first. You'll hate yourself for not doing it sooner. Hate yourself for waiting so long, for being so scared to share that part of yourself with her. You'll hate that all you could think was, "What if she wasn't gay? What if she laughed in my face? What if she hated me for feeling this way? What if she told my mum?"
You'll lose your chance.
You'll have to go back to that little group of theatre kids, week after week, and watch as the one girl you'd put aside all your fear for, cuddles up to another. You're eyes will bore into Ruby, hoping to will her away and take her place.
You'll feel bad, and will for many years, for being happy that they broke up so soon after their love affair began. Somehow, you'll pull the pieces of your broken heart back together and offer them to Anna, and to your absolute shock, she'll want you too.
Anna will be the first girl you'll ever kiss. It'll feel different to boys. It will feel like, when all you've wanted all day is an apple, and when you finally bite into one, it's sweeter, and crunchier, and more amazing than you could have imagined. It's going to be a really good kiss. That kiss, that relationship, they'll change something inside of you. An idea, planted deep in your mind. That maybe this could be okay. Then you'll go to your first pride together, and you'll see the protesters. They'll be vicious figures spitting hate into your ears, and they'll look at you with nothing but disgust. Every kiss from then will feel wrong and sour. Replacing that feeling of okay-ness, with shame. You'll break up with Anna. You won't want to but you'll feel like you have to. You'll then go and date a boy.
After you finally leave the boy that makes you feel nothing but foolishness, at an age when you'll be allowed to drive, but still won't, you'll meet Jasmine. Soon after meeting, she'll text you.
"I like someone."
"Who do you like?" You'll ask. That little bubble with the little dots, will pop up for a moment, and then disappear, a message being written and re-written. You'll feel like every moment she takes to type is a year without breath.
You'll be happy with her. A real happy. Like butterflies always in your stomach happy. Like a little kid winning a stuffed animal in one of those rigged claw machines happy. You'll learn what queer means, and find comfort in the word.
But at the same time, you'll still just want to disappear. Because when you introduce her to your family, you'll be saying, "This is my friend Jasmine", instead of, "This is my girlfriend Jasmine". You'll want them to know, want them to be happy for you, but every time you try to say it, you'll freeze, paralysed by fear. You'll meet for dates, and greet her with a kiss, but the world will worm its way in, you'll feel eyes on you, feel the disapproval.
"I'm not ready for another relationship", she'll tell you. She'll say she needs time to work on herself. You'll put on a smile and pretend you're okay.
After Jasmine, you'll go to a party, and there you'll find Sierra. She won't be queer, but she'll like kissing girls when she drinks. And of course she'll be drinking, and you'll be delighted. You'll slur something to your friend, about wanting to kiss Sierra. She'll be pretty, and dancing, and wearing a low cut top, and you couldn't not want to kiss her. It will be yellow, her top. Your favourite shade of yellow. That shade of yellow being worn by the prettiest girl in the room. Your friend will run and share your drunken whispers, and Sierra will happily comply. You'll kiss. You'll feel like you're just another drunk teen at a party, making out with someone you barely knew. That's the plot to the shows, the movies, and the songs. For once you'll be doing what the other kids were doing, you'll feel normal.
When you break apart to sip at your drinks, you'll feel the familiar sting of all eyes on you. They'll stare and cheer and laugh. You'll feel dirty and used, an unwilling player in their fantasy game. And again you'll be reminded that you are still different. Someone they tolerated, not accepted.
Long after Sierra, and the party that made you want to hide away forever, there'll come a day when you'll be surrounded by bush and unfinished roads, hours and hours from the safety of your little community, where you'll feel acceptance like you've never felt before. There'll be people like you, and people very different, but they'll all respect you. They won't only see the differences, but the similarities too. You'll realise, that if you can find that sense of belonging amongst the flies, and dust, and bad phone reception, then you could find it in your own home. Inside of you, your shame will shrink and your love for yourself will be reborn.
You'll be at home, in the kitchen with your Mum while she washes dishes. You'll get her attention and she'll put down the soapy mug and turn to you. You'll want to run, to say never mind and just keep pretending. But you'll know deep down, you owe it to yourself to do this. You'll remind yourself it's not a bad word, or a bad thing to be. You'll unfold that little piece of paper in your heart, the one so full of love, and you'll finally say the words.