Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
An intra-personal minefield
Two decades ago, renowned author David Mamet's Oleanna sparked fiery debate amongst critics and theatre-goers alike about gender politics, political correctness and sexual harassment.
KADS Theatre rekindles this debate by bringing this incendiary play to Kalamunda for its second season of 2013.
Oleanna takes us from a reality where a struggling student comes to a well-intentioned professor for some extra tutelage, and leads us into a nightmarish zone where words are ripped out of context and used as weapons.
The consequences are nearly tragic, as teacher and student battle for control over themselves, over each other, and over a grossly distorted situation.
The play made its debut hot on the heels of the widely covered and intensely scrutinised case of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, which brought national discussion about sexual harassment to the fore in America.
Not only did it shine light on inappropriate behaviours in the workplace and other public spheres, but also it again raised the notion of how language taken in and out of context can alter our perceptions dramatically.
This is the crux of the matter in Oleanna, and Mamet demonstrates just how quickly and easily a sticky situation can become an intra-personal minefield when people begin to manipulate language to maintain or gain power.
John and Carol, professor and student respectively, both have much at stake: he, a new house purchased on the basis of his impending tenure; and she, her grade in John's course which could ruin her collegiate career.
Ultimately, entire institutional power structures hang in the balance, as this student begins to dictate to the professor what can and cannot be said or taught, and what is and is not appropriate educational material and behaviour.
The lecturer becomes the lectured; tables are turned, and power transfers from authority to subject. Or does it?
Oleanna is directed by Cicely Binford, and stars Eliot McCann as John, and Amy Russotti as Carol. It runs from 26 April to 18 May at KADS with performances on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm.
Tickets are available through Lucky Charm Newsagents at Kalamunda Centro on 9257 2668. Visit KADS website for more information.