a drama about the gendered pressures of young relationships
We had the opportunity to read children’s stories about the pressures of gender norms and how they shape and control boy-girl friendships and young boyfriend girlfriend relationships in the research ‘Boys and Girls Speak Out’.
We wanted to communicate these findings to a wider audience, so we created the play, “Friends?”. One of us wrote the script and our drama teacher helped us bring the script to life in a stage performance. Every line in the play is a direct quote from one of the children in the research. This makes it really powerful when we tell the audience that the play was based on real children’s lives (aged 10, 11 and 12).
The play covers and complicates the issue of gender and sexual bullying. Our main storyline is to challenge societal assumptions that everyone is or will be straight (i.e. heterosexual).
We show how many children are teased or pushed together to couple up as boyfriend and girlfriend just because they hang out or share the same interests. We have performed the play in primary schools, secondary schools and at conferences and events for teachers and policy makers.
“We created a piece of physical theatre to challenge sexist and homophobic banter. Chairs were used functionally (to sit on) and symbolically (as a form of defence and attack).ˮ