June 10, 2012
By Andrew Taylor
All his world’s a stage, but now Kyle Sandilands and his worst on-air outrage will become the stuff of theatre.
Version 1.0, a company that makes verbatim theatre from media reports and public inquiries, is basing its latest play on the shock jock’s broadcast in July 2009 when a 14-year-old girl was strapped to a lie detector on his show and asked by her mother about her sex life. The girl then revealed she had been raped.
The public outcry led to the show’s temporary removal from 2DayFM. Sandilands and the station’s future are now in jeopardy if he dares make another offensive utterance on air. But the new play, The Tender Age, is less concerned with the life and broadcasting crimes of Sandilands than it is about the consequences of that one episode.
The play’s co-director, David Williams, said it inspired the company to look at how society educates young people about sexuality, and how they negotiate relationships in a social media-saturated world.
“I guess this was the starting point for our investigation of this territory,” Williams said. “We’ve also been very interested in the ways in which young people interact with adults other than their parents.”
Williams has some sympathy for Sandilands. After the clearly distressed teenager said she had been sexually assaulted, Sandilands asked: “Right. And is that, is that the only experience you’ve had?” Williams said the question was offensive, but added: “I wouldn’t have known what to do in his situation.”
He also questioned why the teenager’s mother had participated in the radio program and asked her daughter personal questions in such a public forum.
“What kind of world do we live in where a teenager’s sexuality can be turned into a public spectacle through social media or mass media?” On Sandilands, the play will be limited to the lie detector test and the public reaction. “We haven’t explored the glorious recent history of Kyle Sandilands to mine that for other material,” said Williams. Sandilands’s manager and his employer, Austereo, declined to comment.
The play, to be performed by actors from version 1.0 and the Australian Theatre for Young People, opens at Carriageworks in Eveleigh on August 22. Version 1.0’s previous plays include The Table of Knowledge, about the sex and corruption scandal at Wollongong City Council.