New Australian play gives voice to victims of child abuse

The personal accounts of victims of child abuse will be given voice in a new play to premier in Melbourne next month. The Truth is Longer than a Lie, by...

The personal accounts of victims of child abuse will be given voice in a new play to premier in Melbourne next month.

The Truth is Longer than a Lie, by award-winning Melbourne playwright Kieran Carroll is based on the original book by Monash University researchers Dr Neerosh Mudaly and Professor Chris Goddard that explored children’s first-hand accounts of abuse, neglect and the systems designed to protect them.

Historically silenced in discussions about abuse, the play draws upon the shared experiences of the children interviewed in Dr Mudaly and Professor Goddard’s eminent book. The play follows two teenagers from different socio-economic worlds as they break their silence about child abuse, beginning with the abuse contained to a place of secret within the home and later moving into a world of counselling, dire family consequences and the ways in which the damaged children can continue to live and recover.

Dr Mudaly said Kieran’s adaptation provided a new platform to bring the experiences of child victims to light among the wider community. 

“At a time when both the federal and state governments are holding Royal Commissions into child abuse and family violence we felt it was important to bring a different prospective to the discussion,” Dr Mudaly said.

“Child abuse creates the darkest of shadows, which are persistently darkened by political, professional and public denial and indifference. If we are a moral and just society, we must protect children. If we are to protect children, we have to listen to them.

“Theatre, like movies, is regarded as an entertainment, yet these often deal with the suffering of human beings. Theatre gives society the opportunity to connect more closely with the stories being told.”

Between 2013 and 2014, 143,023 Australian, children received child protection services; 99,210 were the subject of an investigation; 55,067 were on a care and protection order; and 51,539 were in out-of-home care.

Tasked with developing such important research into a play, Kieran Carroll said he hoped the play resonated for theatregoers and non-theatre goers alike.

“Child abuse was a difficult and crucial subject. I hope these stories reach out as sobering reminders, warnings, while also providing ways that people can detect abuse and reach out for help."

“Within the book itself, there are direct quotes from child victims. The quotes of two children in particular became the triggers for the family stories. Everything that happens to the children, abuse wise, is true in the translation from the book to the stage while the parents are given some fictional license.

“As a playwright, it's challenging material. It was daunting initially. As I found a way structurally, the intensity of it grew and grew.

“It was emotionally draining to write and I am conscious of the effect on the actors. Some of the scenes are explosive and for all the actors it's demanding material that requires strong emotional investment.”

The cast of When The Truth is Longer than a Lie includes Jessica Martin, Craig Hyde-Smith, Aisha Jakszewicz, Marc Lawrence, Sarah Hallam, Dennis Manahan, Lisa Treloar, Isabella Leone and Graham Murray.

The world premiere of When The Truth is Longer than a Lie will be held on Thursday 12 November at the Richmond Theatrette, 415 Church Street, Richmond starting at 6.30pm. The season runs from 12 – 22 November 2015. Tickets can be purchased from Ticketebo.