Rowan’s Story

keeping focused on the reasons for this project

I last wrote about The Open Door in Projects. Basically, that play, in creative development, revealed itself to be 2 plays – the play of the mother, and the play of the son – Rowan.

Rowan’s Story (working title) is the story of a 17 year old youth exploring his sexuality, discovering the nature of sexual relationships, and uncovering the history and meaning of the family violence he and his mother left behind 9 years ago. He’s working out who he is, and asking some pretty tough questions.

But then I had to figure out how to fund this, because it got bigger and more complex every day: writing, talking to teachers about workshops, creative development, seeking teaching artists for schools, potential touring, venues, production and digital capture, speaking with art education and drama specialists, with sexual and family violence specialists…

so, I find myself in need of a reminder –

why am I doing this?

Our Watch is one of the then Federal Government’s responses to violence against women. One of the last pages in the 2017 video speaks to the conditions that will change our subterranean assumptions about gender (in)equality: Respectful relationships education, Women’s leadership and participation, Equal pay and flexible working conditions, Funding Women’s Services, Access to quality childcare, Pop culture free of stereotypes.

All of those are true.  All important.

But they’re the changes that need to happen structurally in our society.

That’s not the same thing as the root of the problem.

The root of the problem goes deeper than that, I think.

The question that Rowan’s Story poses – and this might be why, to me, a 45 minute education piece is probably more important that a mainstage, 100 minute play – the question Rowan’s Story poses is this:

How does a young man learn to be ‘a man’ without subjugating what is not ‘male’ in those around him? Or subsuming the caring part of ‘male’ in himself?  And more broadly, how do you become a ‘good man’ – or a ‘good woman’ – in a society underpinned by assumptions of inequity and functioning on a neo-capitalist world-view – one that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing?

AoE will be reaching out to schools over the next few weeks, and then again in a few months, about possible collaborations. We’re interested in lots of different ways to work together to keep this conversation happening.

If you’re interested in hearing more, email Attn: Elaine to

This project has been supported by the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland’s support for The Open Door.

Rowan’s Story characters: Nikhil Singh as Rowan, and Emily Liu as Alice, his girlfriend (amongst others) at the table read for The Open Door, 19 October 2022; photo Shaun Charles