Watergate meets Clueless in Canberra Youth Theater’s new play How to Vote!

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It’s a clever comedy that makes federal politics look genteel by comparison, but as this satire on student politics takes over The Playhouse, it’s important to note How to vote! isn’t just for StuPol nerds.

With more stabs in the back than Julius Caesar’s farewell party and enough machinations to make Machiavelli blush, the world premiere explores the treacherous landscape of campus life – and the drama that comes with it – from Wednesday 7 to Saturday 10 September at the Canberra Theater Centre.

After a full election cycle at a prestigious university when the university’s student council president mysteriously resigns, the play explores the theme of power and what it takes to wrest it from the cold, dead hands of your enemies, while scratching your end. semester exams.

And according to playwright Julian Larnach How to vote! (A.K.A The repercussions of political ambition and personal rivalries within student leadership and media organizations in the context of the post-Covid-19 neoliberal academic institution) is not your usual political drama – featuring a cast of college performers from the Canberra Youth Theatre, he describes it as a combination of a “diet version” of secret city with the humor of Sex educationor “Watergate meets clueless”.

“It was oddly a visit to the Museum of Australian Democracy that we really undertook in the process [that inspired me],” he says. “It just occurred to me; I had never even thought of it before,”

“But I think the student prefix [fascinated me] and the idea that when you add the word ‘students’ to things, it suddenly changes the nature and adds a lot of preconceptions and excuses. And then once I started pulling this thread, I realized there was so much student drama and student relations.

By following the stories of 30 different characters as they weave, dodge and weave their way through the university’s cutthroat political landscape – full of secret deals, divided loyalties and relentless ambition – Julian has found himself. inspired by his own experiences in student politics, journalism and theatre. But, as he explains, ultimately the themes and humor come from the characters themselves.

“I think it’s one of those things that’s been really fun working with a giant cast of super talented young actors, you just realize that each one is the main character in their own little play. You see it as 30 different characters on their own little path through this world, and the play kind of focuses on three or four of them mainly,” he says.

One of the characters, Monica, is played by Queanbeyan resident Ella Buckley. Describing her as a “freshman college student, running as the third candidate for student president on a one-party issue”, Ella was drawn to her character’s passion, drive and determination.

“She’s willing to give everything she can for what she really wants, to get things done that will help others, and to make sure what happened to her doesn’t happen to anyone else,” she says. “There’s a lot of inspiration in the political climate piece right now.”

And yes, before you ask, some of the characters are loosely based (and just as dramatically) on actual politicians.

“We refer to certain political things, particularly for our age group – this young adult, 18 to 25 years old. There are a lot of different jokes, internet memes and things that have gone viral have been included in there,” says Ella.

“To be able to be in this city and explore politics is so much fun, especially driving to rehearsals and driving past the Old Parliament and remembering that we think about it through a student lens. It’s very nice.

But don’t worry if you don’t know much about politics (whether it’s a student election or a federal election), according to Ella, you can still enjoy How to vote!

“Although it has a political slant, and that’s what drives the play, the characters, lives, and relationships of young adults of this college age are still incredibly relatable,” she says.

“There’s a lot to be learned from it, apart from the political aspect.”

Offering a smart, thought-provoking and comical take on Australian politics, this show proves that youth theater isn’t just for kids. And for actors stepping onto The Playhouse stage for the first time, they are thrilled to finally carve out a place for themselves in Youth Theater as young adult performers.

“Having young creatives tackle a big important political play that is both silly and serious really shows that Canberra’s Youth Theater is doing amazing things,” says Julian.

“I think a lot of times that period gets overlooked because we have these stories of what it’s like to graduate from high school, to leave town, these big momentous things. But I think that was the fun discovery of that… politics in plays isn’t about being about speeches, it’s about people making decisions and you make so many decisions in those three to four years of your life, that you really define who you are going to be for.

Maybe these student politicians can teach a thing or two about decision-making (and backstabbing) to the Capital Hill pollies, because if you think a federal election is vicious, you better prepare yourself.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: How to vote! (Or The repercussions of political ambition and personal rivalries within student leadership and media organizations in the context of the post-Covid-19 neoliberal academic institution)

When: From Wednesday 7 to Saturday 10 September

Where: The Playhouse, Canberra Theater Center

Website + tickets: canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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