Her new play, Anaconda—inspired by a 2001 sexually charged bullying scandal at a posh Australian school—premiered tonight at the Hollywood Fringe. And in the tradition of art imitating life, Doyle sees a connection between what happened 10 years ago in Australia and our stateside Sandusky scandal currently at trial in Pennsylvania.
“I hope [the play] can prompt a conversation about all bullying and abuse,” Doyle says. “And how you make a decision when you decide to be a bystander….we are indicting everyone to help by speaking out if you see something.”
Doyle’s fictional tale was inspired by events at Sydney’s Trinity Grammar School, events labeled by Australian media as “one of Australia’s worst private school scandals.” The trial for the Trinity scandal resulted in four students plea-bargaining to lessor charges and two victims (who Doyle calls “survivors”) receiving out-of-court settlements.
The play’s premiere at Theatre of Note made national news down under earlier this month while still in rehearsals, opening old wounds and even prompting an unhappy student’s mother to email Doyle her disapproval for the play’s content.
“I think I might be making some enemies in Australia with this one,” Doyle says with a sigh. But that’s not enough to stop her greater message of learning from the past. There are even plans to take the show to Australia after its run at the Fringe.
Doyle placed Anaconda’s story in New York City and admits she is primarily an artist in her approach to the material. But she has done her research, including interviews with people who were at the Australian school when the true events took place. And, like Sandusky, there were accusations of cover-ups, ample fingers pointed and a larger, close-knit community rattled to its core.
“The entire situation poses an interesting question,” Doyle says of the all-male students at the center of the scandal. “How accountable can you really be at 16?”
As Doyle’s third annual offering at the Hollywood Fringe (Shiny White Diamonds, 2010 and Feeling Feeling, 2011), the Aussie seems content as an international playwright living in Los Angeles. While the plot lines of Anaconda may prove a bit rough for younger audiences, she hopes the universality of its message reaches those who may need to see it most…even if they are fourteen or fifteen years old
“There seems to be a bit of a sexual revolution happening among us,” she explains. “But it seems these boys would banish bisexuality—or if it comes out it is only through violence….We’re still stuck in this trap of what it means to be a man.”
We Americans love a good controversy. What’s all the fuss about? You may have to see for yourself.
Running Time: 55 minutes Tickets: $12
About the Author: Amy Tofte is a writer/director who worked way too hard for her SAG card that she stubbornly hangs on to. She has her MFA from CalArts (Writing for Performance) and has seen her work produced all over the country and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is a founding member of Fierce Backbone in Los Angeles (a theater dedicated to all levels of play development) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Visit Amy at http://amytofte.com