An honest and raw retelling of the journey to repeal Australia’s most archaic anti-gay legislation, Seymour Centre and White Box Theatre will present Campion Decent’s acclaimed play, The Campaign in the Reginald Theatre as part of the 2020 Sydney Mardi Gras Festival throughout February.
In 1988, more than 100 arrests were made at Hobart’s popular Salamanca Market when the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group defied a ban to gather signatures on a petition to decriminalise sexual activity between consenting adult males in private.
The unprecedented and highly publicised arrests grew into Australia’s largest-ever gay rights civil disobedience, which began a campaign to change the Tasmanian law – the most draconian in the Western world in terms of its penalty and, by the time of its repeal, the last of its kind in Australia.
Based on personal testimony, parliamentary transcripts, media reports and archival sources from the people involved – including Rodney Croome, Nick Toonen and Christine Milne – The Campaign chronicles Tasmania’s journey from exclusion to inclusion, from opposition to acceptance, and from hatred to embrace.
“The Campaign is a story of community, of people working together for change,” said Decent. “I stand in awe of the courage and conviction of the people in this play, and the countless others who stood beside them in real life.”
Campion Decent is a playwright and dramaturg. His plays include The Campaign, Unholy Ghosts, Embers, Shootings, Baby X, and Three Winters Green. He has been awarded an AWGIE and the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Drama Script (Embers) and the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award (Unholy Ghosts). The Campaign won Best New Writing at the 2019 Tasmanian Theatre Awards.
As a dramaturg he has worked for ANPC/Playwriting Australia, Griffin, HotHouse, Malthouse, NIDA, and Sydney Theatre Company (STC). He has also worked in the arts in a variety of roles, including Artistic Director of HotHouse Theatre, Literary Manager at STC, Artistic Director of Next Wave Festival, and Festival Director for Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
He is a graduate of the NIDA playwrights’ studio and holds a BCA from the University of Wollongong, an MA (Theatre Studies) from the University of NSW, and a PhD from La Trobe University.
Director: Kim Hardwick Featuring: Tim McGarry, Simon Croker, Mathew Lee, Madeline MacRae, Jane Phegan Production Designer: Martin Kinnane Sound Designer and Composer: Patrick Howard
Reginald Theatre – Seymour Centre, Corner Cleveland Street and City Road, Chippendale (Sydney)
Season continues to 28 February 2020
Information and Bookings: www.seymourcentre.com
Image: Rodney Croome arrested at the Salamanca Market in 1988 – photo by Roger Lovell
As part of the season, the Seymour Centre will present a panel discussion on Wednesday 19 February featuring Michael Kirby AC CMG, Rodney Croome AM and Julie McCrossin AM. Together they will discuss future battlegrounds, as well as the roles personal storytelling, strategic risk-taking and compromise play in achieving significant social and legal change.