Choir 1981 TN Theatre Co Brisbane Poster FEATURED

The TN! Theatre Company

Errol Bray’s THE CHOIR for the TN! Theatre Company at the Cement Box Theatre, St Lucia, Queensland from 18 March to 4 April 1981.

Directed by Bryan Nason; Designed by David Bell; Stage Managed by Paul Haseler and Assistant Stage Managed by Toby Simkin*

STARRING Geoffrey Cartwright (Colin); Malcolm Cork (Andrew); Michael McCaffrey (David); Glenn Perry (Michael); James Porter (Garry); Patrick Reed (Paul) and John Rush (Peter).

*Elizabeth Bequest Scholar.

THE CHOIR takes us inside a dormitory of orphaned youths who have been castrated to keep their voices pure and help assure their winning performance in an upcoming choral competition. But harmony is the last thing in their lives.

Brutally in your face, THE CHOIR stirred up a viper’s nest of passions when it surfaced at the 1980 Australian National Playwrights Conference. In addition to castration, it deals with homosexuality and sadism, as manifested among seven youths who are all but prisoners of a ruthless offstage matron. Although played by adult actors, the characters range in age from 12 to 16, which gives an additional edge to the play.

Only Andrew, the oldest of the youths, has managed to escape the knife, and he functions as a combination lover and warden to the others, defusing their frustrations and keeping them in line. In a series of short, staccato scenes, frustrations build, however, and by the play’s particularly blunt and bloody climax, Andrew’s charges have taken up the knife themselves.


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Synopsis of Errol Bray’s The Choir

The orphanage boys’ choir has won the interstate competition 3 years in a row. Miss Lawson (never seen) is determined to win it again. She has the boy sopranos castrated so that their voices will remain pure and beautiful. The choir has an easy life with 7 to a dormitory. Andrew is the Head Boy in the dormitory of this story. The others idolise him except for Michael who will not speak and sits at his desk cutting out heads from photos in magazines. Underneath the story lies an uneasy and distorted sexuality with Andrew as love-god.

During a teasing fight Michael reveals that the castration is a mistake because they were done too late. Their voices are still changing. He thinks everyone must know this but the other boys don’t. They are extremely disturbed by the revelation. They try to organise an escape. They try to tell the rest of the choir who won’t believe them at first and fighting breaks out amongst the different choir rooms. Some try to set the building on fire. In a fight, David (the singer) is injured in the throat. He commits suicide with the help of his best friend, Colin.

Andrew tries to bring about calm. But he no longer holds sway over his group. They castrate him so that everyone in their room will be equal.