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Writing and interview by Laneikka

Hi! I’m Laneikka! I’m a playwright and creator of The Monologue Collective. I wrote my first play at seventeen that went onto to be performed around the globe, published and has led me to work as a writer myself so… I’d say my play must be alright, lol? It took me years to get anyone to even considering reading my work because sadly… ageism still exists, even within the arts.

That’s why I created The Monologue Collective: a youth arts theatre initiative where teenage writers develop a 6-8 minute monologue for teenager actors to perform in the HSC individual performance. We have our first fully staged performance at Kings Cross Theatre in October this year, before (hopefully!) going around NSW. It’s a performance of ten monologues written by teenagers for teenagers. Stories of queer love, neurodiversity, toxic masculinity and meeting your crazy mum at schoolies, all written by the diverse voice of Australian youth today.

I thought it best to hear from Marco, 17, about his experience on becoming a teenage playwright through The Monologue Collective. 

So Marco, what were you doing just before you joined The Monologue Collective (TMC)? Did you ever think you were going to write? Did you want to say something in art but didn’t have anywhere to say it?

When I joined I was doing my HSC and to try and keep some balance in my life I’d started getting involved with more theatre stuff, especially in Western Sydney as I’m from there. Growing up I’d been told my perspective was definitely worth exploring I just hadn’t really had the chance to say what I wanted to say until I joined The Monologue Collective.

What was the first day of TMC like? 

I was actually extremely anxious – it was between my final Modern History and Math exams for the HSC, and coming out of lockdown I hadn’t been in a room with so many new people in quite some time. But as soon as we started my fears were immediately thrown out the 2-storey window onto the street below. The writing exercises we did felt pretty cathartic, and I found myself quite excited working with these pretty cool people my age (and Riley, our dramaturg’s dog certainly helped too, lol). My favourite memory from that day has to be when Laneikka, myself, and a few others ducked down to Coles Express to grab one of their frozen ham cheese & tomato sandwiches; it was such a randomly unremarkable experience that was just great… it, for some reason, left a huge impact on me going into my own writing process.

And what was it like to meet a bunch of teenagers who all wanted to share something through theatre?

Not going to lie, while it was certainly exciting working with all these awesome people, it was also quite intimidating – because of my own insecurities and inexperience with creating theatre. As I’ve gotten to know everyone better I went from feeling intimidated to being inspired. I genuinely found having a space to freely and openly discuss your own lives and writing with others really helped at times where I might have felt directionless or stuck at a point with my writing.

What was it like working with your main stage theatre mentors and who was your favourite?

Getting a chance to work with an array of theatre mentors throughout the program really improved the experience and introduced me to the entire process of creating theatre from dramaturgy to performance. We worked with writers who had worked at theatres like Belvoir, Sydney Theatre Company and even on broadway in New York. In regards to my favourite, I will state first that this is EXTREMELY BIASED of me because she is my main dramaturg but it has to be the wonderful human Bernadette Fam. Bernie taught me drama at Paramatta Actor’s Centre since I was in year 11 in high school and over the years I’ve learned so much from her. She has allowed me to express my authentic self both in my work and as a person. She has helped me connect with people, at a time where I felt lonely, super anxious and self conscious. In the program she’s been a huge blessing – giving the most sincere and insightful feedback, maybe even letting 1 or 2 deadlines slide as I’m constantly catching up with everything all the time lol. I just wanna express how thankful I am for everyone involved though (shoutout to Laneikka for being awesome), everyone has played a part in helping me articulate exactly what I’ve always wanted to talk about.

Awe.. luv ya Marco. Now, why do you think teenagers will resonate with your monologue?

My monologue is about a queer-masculine teenager realising his need to move on from an unclarified romance with a school friend that has been taking a toll of his life. Drawing from my own experiences of loneliness and confusing as f*** feelings as a queer-masc person. I feel this monologue will relate to all sorts of people – everyone who struggles to communicate what they love, to who they love. I feel like in particular to queer people though, our feelings are often heightened by underlying feelings of rejection, internalised-homophobia andit can feel so confusing to navigate all of our thoughts since speaking sincerely and openly is not always possible. I think allowing Jean to speak about his feelings so openly in this monologue will definitely resonate with so many young people who are struggling to communicate their own emotions.

Finally, why is it so important teenagers have their voices heard?

Like I’ve said. It is SO SO IMPORTANT to have our voices heard. At times we struggle with the language to communicate our feelings because we’re told our feelings are hormonal, invalid etc. As a queer person, I’ve met and heard so many people who simply didn’t even know they were queer until they had the language to truly express it – for me, I always known it. It’s so important that all as many perspectives as possible are given a voice on every issue possible and we’re the next generation. We’re those who can evoke change. We can speak to make other young people less alone in the world and that can certainly make all the difference.

The Monologue Collective will be performing @ KXT Theatre from October 18th – 21st. 

You can book tickets and find out more information about the show here: 

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