Blackrock was inspired by the real-life rape and horrific murder of an Australian schoolgirl in 1989. It is a story of secrets, mateship, loyalties and the consequences and aftermath of a brutal crime. Polarity strikes a community now under the scrutiny of the press while the news bulletins inform the rest of the Nation. The play won the 1996 AWGIE Award for Best Play.
The play is about abuse but fundamentally playwright Nick Enright examines the question of extreme male bonding within youth subcultures and how that defines the female roles within that subculture and how that may have lead to the rape and murder of a young girl in the town of Stockton, NSW by a group of boys. For director Jeremy Ives Blackrock has always been a play he's wanted to direct. "I’m really drawn to the fact that it’s a true story so the characters we see unravelling before our eyes are based on real theatre and verbatim theatre play always makes for interesting viewing," He says. "I love the complexity of the characters and that position that they find themselves in where they have to act a certain way as a 'boy' and are portrayed a certain way because they are a 'girl'. It’s a very emotional story and some of the description involving the rape of the girl is very graphic. The challenge has been to not get pulled down by the negativity of the storyline and focus on telling the story properly."
The protagonist of the play is Jared who is left to make some very difficult decisions the repercussions of which change his life forever. "I can definitely relate to the main character Jared and the turmoil that he goes through in trying to protect his best friend Ricko and his other mates and that moral compass his mother has instilled in him to do the right thing," explains Ives. " It’s such a relatable story for an audience as well since any can look back at their teenage years and think about the mistakes that they’ve made. "
The play is set in a fictional Australian beach side working-class suburb called Blackrock. Ives admits that recreating that beach culture in inner city Melbourne is difficult. "Trying to get the right vibe and we won’t know whether we’re successful until the show opens." The play also offers other challenges to both cast and director simply because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter. For Ives, it has been important to create a safe working environment for all cast and crew because of the heavy scenes and themes involved in the play.
It is a highly emotive play that deals with a young subculture wherein many are forced to make decisions beyond their years. Some will make bad decisions and some will be left with a life time of regret. It will certainly challenge an audience. Says Ives: "I hope the audience leave having emotionally affected by one of the characters in some way and also challenged a little by the stereotypes of men and women and how young people are exposed to a lot at a young age and aren’t necessary equipped to deal with it. "
Ives is the co-founder, Vice-President and current Artistic Director of Purely Pensive Productions and he is understandably more than proud of the development of PPP. " It has been a joy to watch the company grow over the past eight years and see so many wonderful actors and people come through our doors," he says. " We’re just trying to make quality, affordable theatre in Melbourne and provide an outlet for people who want to act, but may not get the opportunity to."
Blackrock will be performed at the Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre, 25-27 October, 2012.