Black Swan State Theatre Company pushing boundaries with Taylor Mac’s HIR


Igor Sas as Arnold.
Igor Sas as Arnold.

ENGAGING theatre needs to push boundaries, which is why Perth actor Igor Sas applauded the choice when Black Swan State Theatre Company programmed Taylor Mac’s confronting HIR in the 2018 program.

“The writing is extraordinary,” Sas said.

“If you do a traditional play, like the company’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, then you have to look at how to make it relevant to today’s audiences and how to push the boundaries to make it really engaging.

“Or you can put on cutting-edge plays of this time by young artists that break rules and look at stuff that we might find a bit uncomfortable.

“Even though we deal with quite graphic stuff in HIR, it’s still done in an engaging way and the humour carries it through.”

HIR, a gender-neutral pronoun of ‘his’ and ‘her’ pronounced ‘here’, is a 90-minute dark comedy about how we view gender set in the context of a middle-class American family.

“There is the young soldier coming back from Afghanistan to find his family totally transformed,” Sas said.

“His father Arnold (played by Sas), who was a violent man and subjected all the family to domestic violence, has had a stroke and is rendered helpless.

“The consequence of that is Paige, his wife and mother of his kids, sees that as her opportunity to start a new life.

“His mother has found her freedom from being dominated by her husband and her daughter, the young man’s sister, is taking testosterone to become transgender.”

Sas said the overarching theme of gender being fluid and the spectrum of gender broader than traditionally thought had caused him to examine his own attitudes towards the subject.

However, his biggest challenge in HIR is making Arnold’s disability, where he has been rendered nearly speechless, believable.

“He’s had a stroke and I want to make that as real as possible for the audience,” he said.

“I need to find where my character is cognitive of what’s happening and where he isn’t. He could sit back and dissolve into the background but I want to maintain an energy throughout the play.”

What: HIR
Where: Studio Underground
When: May 10 to 27
Tickets: www.bsstc.com.au

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