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Play Confronts Current Teen Issues

Play Confronts Current Teen Issues

Cut Out, a play about youth, opens days after a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and development reveals New Zealand has the highest rates of suicide, cannabis use and juvenile offending in the 30 OECD nations. Cut Out revokes the prevailing liberal belief that what teens need is positive reinforcement (deliverable by phone or in a counselors office), and calls for a return of suppression of self as an answer to personal problems.

Shortly before the release of the OECD report, public attention was focused on the Yellow Ribbon campaign, which increases suicide awareness, but has been criticized for promoting it instead. Cut Out points a finger at youth related campaigns for increased positivity and self esteem among young people, which build them up above their level, leaving them more vulnerable, and unable to articulate why. They are continually being told “you are not alone” even when they are. The message being promoted is “If you’re feeling bad, talk to someone”, which disregards the fact that people become isolated because nobody wants to talk to them.

Few would disagree that being somebody else won’t lead to fulfillment in the long term. Cut Out asserts that by removing any part of your personality that causes you to be left out, isolated or unhappy, you will be complete in what remains, and therefore happier.

The character of Tore Larsson, portrayed by David Van horn, is an isolated, troubled youth who struggles to find his identity, and turns to poetry to express himself. When his wish to study writing upon leaving school is denied by his academically minded parents, who want him to use his intelligence for something more useful, he embarks on a spree of self-mutilation to get attention and physicalise his discontent. But none comes, and he alienates himself even further from his peer group, who are unable to deal with his inexplicable emotions. He then realizes that despite what was said to him in various self-esteem programmes at school, he is not loved at any deep level, and his quest for self-knowledge has only resulted in his rejection. He accuses these groups of “filling his head with false notions of self worth”. Though he vows in obedience not to smoke, do drugs, commit suicide or get anyone pregnant, he pledges to continue to physically punish himself through self mut

“Print my picture in a magazine / Cut it out and wash it clean

Take me out of time and space / And leave the cut out in my place.”

Cut Out, which is on during the Wellington Fringe Festival, and will be coming to Auckland for the LAUGH! Festival in April, is directed by Spin Doctors star Elizabeth Hawthorne, (soon to be seen in Auckland Theatre Company’s production of The Graduate) and performed by young Auckland actors Stacey Musham, Jonny Hair, Emily O’Brien-Brown and David Van Horn. It was written by Paul Rothwell, the author of two other plays at the Fringe: Undine, about anorexia for pleasure, and The Felinity of Wendel, the story of a girl who thinks she is a cat and gets run over by a truck. They both go under the name Paul’s Parables, and are on at BATS from 11-15 February at 6.30 pm.

Cut Out is on at Zeal, 50 Victoria Street, Wellington, at the following times:

Saturday 15 February 9 pm

Sunday 16 February 2 pm

Monday 17 February 7 pm and 9 pm

Tuesday 18 February 7 pm and 9 pm

Wednesday 19 February 7 pm and 9 pm

Thursday 20 February 7 pm and 9 pm

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