Significant and just, The Truth is Longer than a Lie draws upon the real experiences of children in situations of child abuse, neglect and the systems designed to protect them. The play is written by award-winning Australian playwright Kieran Carroll, and follows two teenagers from two very different families as they break their silence about their experiences thus finding traces of hope in the system and each other.
The project was commissioned by Monash Uni, Frankston, and adapted for the stage from a 2006 non-fiction book by Neerosh Mudaly and Chris Goddard which investigates child abuse and professional interventions. For Carroll it’s been a one-year project to this point with his blueprint being the detailed research study by Mudaly and Goddard. “From there, it took some time to find a way into such a difficult but crucial subject in a playwriting sense,” explains Carroll. “Daunting initially, the way in came through the often directly quoted children from the book. The awful experiences these children endured became the triggers for the narratives and the way into a two family crossover drama.”
As far as script development, Carroll worked solidly on the script for six months before a further developmental reading was held at Monash Uni in June. Carroll also read a lot of non-fiction on the subject of abuse, visited places like the Australian Childhood Foundation and Domestic Violence Assault Centres. Finding numerous British and American plays and some films on the topic helpful he feels the plays, in particular, showed him many variables on tackling such an issue. He had to then combine some of the methodology of the book with some of the narratives of the book plus extend on the play with some fictional licence, mainly in regards to the parents.
Mudaly and Goddard’s work was raw, insightful and confronting but most importantly, what emerged was a story that needed to be told. It has indeed been told but further to this the play is about to be published by Black Pepper Press to coincide with this opening season at the Richmond Theatrette. Carroll tells me that on the back cover of the book, the blurb ends with: ‘The Truth is Longer Than a Lie wrenches us into listening’. “The play is there to create wider awareness of the issue, and to remind people that it happens across all socio-economic strands;” says Carroll. ” It’s a strong reminder that children must be listened to at all times and that beneficial help is close by if the truth can be told to the right person. It’s a wake-up call for all of us to stay vigilant on this issue.”
A harrowing, difficult but crucial subject matter, The Truth is Longer Than a Lie does posit some hope in the form of the benefits of counselling. “In the second half of the play, both of the children go into counselling and part of my job as a playwright is too show strong, new approaches to therapy and the healing process,” Carroll explains. “Both victims make some headway with an enormous and difficult journey ahead. There is hope at the end of the play and while it can’t be a fairytale ending, the audience will notice some bright rays.”
The Truth is Longer Than a Lie is forceful, confronting theatre with the best of intentions. It’s not trying to shake for the sake of it. Rather, it inhabits worlds too often ignored . “If it wasn’t at times confronting, I would not have done my job,” says Carroll. ” It’s psychologically and physically beyond belief at times, but these stories are true. In my research, there were cases when the depravity of some situations had me having to shut the book momentarily before reading on. I would like to audience to come along to this production as socially responsible citizens, as a way of confronting or healing, and to leave determined to act on any child abuse issue they might suspect.”
Wednesday 11 November, 6.30pm (Preview)
Thursday 12 November – Saturday 14 November, 6.30pm
Wednesday 18 November, 6.30pm (Q&A session after performance)
Thursday 19 November – Saturday 21 November, 6.30pm
Sunday 15 and 22 November, 4pm
Location- Richmond Theatrette, 415 Church Street, Richmond
Cost- $25 (Full), $20 (Concession/ Students), $15 (Preview)
Running time- 90 minutes with no interval
Other information- This play contains coarse language, smoking, drug use, gun use