STATUS is a powerful and empowering new work which explores the complexities of contemporary HIV stigma.
Its verity is unchallenged as it is based on the experiences of 40+ individuals living with, and affected by, HIV. This is a universally important work on many levels and the hope is that the story will engender temperance and understanding towards those living with HIV
For actor Kath Gordon the mission to educate is passionate and personal. Her brother, the late Ashley Gordon who formed The Gordon Frost Organisation with John Frost, lost his life to HIV.
"As a piece of theatre created from real life accounts and interviews, I believe this translates more to the core, and addresses predominantly the stigma attached to the disease," Gordon explains. "The important message for me? To dissolve the stigma AND the current statistics! More people are being infected by positive women and bi-sexual activities. It is no longer a gay mans disease. We need to educate our children. "
The work is based on a foundation of integrity and immediacy – more than any fictional account can ever have – and for Gordon it is important to get it right. " I find it an honour to tell the real stories of these people, " she says. " As an actor I strive to be honest. When I have the opportunity to tell these stories, that’s quintessential for me. " And it is this need to get it right that fuels Gordon in the rehearsal room towards finding more than just the essence of the character. For Gordon it is about "connecting with the soul of these people who have privileged us by sharing their stories."
Gordon has been performing since the age of 12 when she appeared as No Neck Monster in MTC's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She went on to appear in Me & My Girl and Favourite Son. With a recent award for best Actress in the LA Movie Awards for the film, Life Through a Lens, Gordon's career is on fire. Other film credits include The Playbook, The Resident Magician and Submerge with TV appearances including City Homicide, Blue Heelers, All Saints, Neighbours, Water Rats, Prisoner, the title role in It’s Not You It’s Bree as well as having played over 60 characters on The Ossie Ostrich Video Show for the nine network.
Gordon enthusiastically tells me she has mostly played characters of a rather complex nature, to say the least, and tends to get type cast in these roles but loves it! Two of her most challenging roles to date have been characters who, as with this piece, are based on actual people.
"Rhonda (Who's Afraid of The Working Class by Andrew Bovell); a woman who lives in a trailer park, is 'up the duff' yet again and who's two youngest children have run away from home and sought refuge in a clothing bin and. as a result of lighting a candle to provide them with light for the night, have met their death by incineration. As their mother I had to identify their charred bodies in the mortuary. Yes, that was a place to go to. And yes, I visited a morgue and observed what I could.
But my all time favourite has been Antonina Miliukova (Maestro, by Geoffrey Williams); the wife of the infamous Tchaikovsky, who was put away in an insane asylum to cover up her husband’s homosexuality. These roles were the most challenging, as I wanted so much for my portrayal to do them justice."
Gordon trained in the highly acclaimed Lee Strasburg Institute in LA under, and with, such greats as Shelley Winters and Angelina Jolie and she describes the years spent at the Institute as amongst the best days in her life.
"Training under teachers who trained directly under Lee, including Shelley Winters, gave me profound insights. I have never stopped developing what I gained from those years. To this day I use my method tool box when something needs fixing… or not. I now teach my craft and am able to impart my knowledge of a technique that I am so proud of and passionate about. "
STATUS is being directed by Cameron Menzies – an acclaimed multi award- nominated and award winning Australian director – and is all about re-igniting the discussion around the stigma of living with HIV. It is playing as a part of the 2014 International AIDS Conference
For Gordon the delights of this work are being able to explore the stories of real people -being given the gift of playing a multitude of characters, and finding their truth.
July 23 – 27