Stories of violence rage across stage

PLAYWRIGHT: Bundaberg writer Rod Ainsworthís.
PLAYWRIGHT: Bundaberg writer Rod Ainsworthís. Max Fleet BUNROD

WHEN Bundaberg play-wright Rod Ainsworth set out to document the region's battle with domestic violence, he had no idea he had strapped himself into an "emotional rollercoaster".

Mr Ainsworth teamed up with interviewer Ross Peddlesden to speak to a dozen victims and perpetrators of domestic violence to create a raw and honest verbatim theatre project about the issue.

"It's been an emotional rollercoaster for both Ross and I," Mr Ainsworth said.

"It's amazing just how common this issue is."

Mr Ainsworth said the project started last year and a script is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

"The idea of the project was to tell region-appropriate stories," he said.

"I was talking to Anne McWhirter at the time she was manager of the Family Relationship Centre, and I told her I was interested to look at a project that dealt with a major community issue in Bundaberg. She said domestic violence was the big issue."


Actors read an excerpt from the verbatim project at the recent White Ribbon breakfast.
Actors read an excerpt from the verbatim project at the recent White Ribbon breakfast. Vanessa Marsh

From there, Mr Peddlesden interviewed the victims and perpetrators and Mr Ainsworth then transcribed them and developed the script.


"It's almost 100% verbatim - the exact words," he said.

"I guess the beauty of it is that every word is the truth.

"People can argue back and forth and black and white about issues, but when you have it right there in front of you from people have been involved, it's not fiction - you can't argue with that."

Mr Ainsworth said it became clear domestic violence was never black and white.

"What was really interesting for me was how similar the stories were," he said.

"We interviewed about a dozen people and half were victims and half were perpetrators, but all the stories across the board with both men and women were almost identical in terms of the structure of their story.

"The cycle of domestic violence is well documented, but I didn't expect to see it so obviously."

Mr Ainsworth said the experience had been a "massive" learning experience, both for the content and the project style.

"The emotion in both sides is pretty palpable," he said.

"(Domestic violence) is almost everywhere."

Mr Ainsworth said he hoped the completed script could be used as an educational tool in schools.

"We've got plans to have a full reading soon," he said.

Topics:  domestic violence respect rebuild

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