NEON Festival of Independent Theatre,  Southbank Theatre, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank

Words – Karla O’Connor

Photos – J Forsyth

Admittedly, I have not always been the most avid of theatregoers. However, this must, and is, progressively changing. Every time I do go, I find it’s a particular art form that commands the cogs in my head to tick; it’s an art form that makes me really think. And for me, that’s the point; art is about much more than just being aesthetically pleasing. Well, perhaps that’s the difference between the mediocre and the excellent, or any space on the vast spectrum in between.

Last week, as part of the NEON Festival of Independent Theatre, I went to see ‘On the Bodily Education of Young Girls,’ conceived by FRAUGHT OUTFIT and inspired by the 1903 German novella ‘Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls,’ written by Frank Wedekind – who just so happened to carry the reputation as a ‘pornographic enemy of the state.’ Rather topical considering in the same week a St Kilda gallery was forced to close an exhibit due to accusations of child pornography on display. But that’s another matter, and one I do not have the time or word count to tackle right now.


Pursuing themes of innocence and constraint, On the Bodily Education of Young Girls places the audience in an awkward position, where not only are we the preservers of innocence, but the violators as well. We take a voyeuristic excursion into the lives of these young, virginal girls who are being conditioned for a future not known. I sat attentively and uncomfortably through the hour-long show, feeling the looming threat that seamed to lurk in the otherwise placid, silent surrounds.

The subtle, yet powerful use of sound and lighting set a dramatic tone, but even so, I found it quite an odd piece of theatre where nothing of interest ever really happens, however, thought provoking nonetheless. It was certainly enough to get me to come back for some more NEON theatre vigour. The NEON Festival of Independent Theatre proudly hosts five of Melbourne’s top independent companies. They have complete curatorial freedom; they get to stage their work their way.


So what’s on my upcoming NEON agenda I hear you ask…?

– ‘Story of O’ is at the top of the list. Inspired by the famous erotic novel of the same name, I can only hope it’s just as provocative, subversive and visceral. Showing until July 7th 2013.

-‘By Their Own Hands’ also looks a treat. Showing until June 23rd 2013.

-‘The Sovereign Wife’ is showing until July 21st 2013.

Take a peek at the Melbourne Theatre Company website for show times and some of the other fancy NEON Festival events.