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Time to talk about porn

PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

CAL ROBERTS
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Pornography and technology has changed the way teens view intimacy, and a play designed to get people talking about the things often left unsaid is coming to Masterton colleges.

Author and teacher at Hutt Valley High Bernard Beckett wants to get the conversation going around healthy 21st century relationships.

“It’s not something people do a lot of talking about.”

Two Nights, a show created by Beckett and Anna Flaherty, takes a frank look at pornography use and modern culture – in particular, cellphones.

The show is based around the growing relationships of two young couples – one where romance and intimacy is free to evolve uninhibited, the other where pornography use has become increasingly unhealthy.

“It’s affecting intimacy, it’s affecting health,” Beckett said.

“It has really changed the way young people are experiencing or developing notions of sexuality.”

In the past 18 months, the pair have researched the topic at length, talking with health professionals, counsellors and the principal adviser on sexual health and reproduction at the Ministry of Health.

Beckett said the implications of pornography, social media and technology on relationships were not uniquely adolescent.

“There is no sense that this is [just] a teenage problem, but we’re school teachers . . . we’re going out to schools, where we can have the most impact.”

Today the play will be performed to senior pupils at Rathkeale College and Saint Matthew’s Collegiate School, and then Wairarapa College.

Wairarapa College principal Shelley Power said young people are not as sheltered as they once were due to the power of the internet and social media technologies.

“Whether we like it or not, our young people are exposed to what would have once been regarded as very adult things.

“Helping them make sense of that in a healthy way is a real ongoing concern for us as a school.”

Principal at St Matthew’s Kiri Gill said the play was a very relevant piece about the destructive impact of the internet on relationships.

“We here are working hard to look at the cyber world and educating our youth and their parents about the cautions which must be taken to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the internet.”

She said the play was funded by the Office of the Chief Censor, which deemed its themes relevant for school audiences.

“To have the power of drama to demonstrate the impact of this cyber world on relationships and how we engage with one another is a stunning opportunity.”

Beckett said it was important to combine the message as a package – entertainment and education.

This is done through a performance, followed immediately by a Q and A session.

“We’ve looked at other things like a web series, but there’s something about that live avenue and these people collectively experiencing it, then going straight into that conversation.”

The characters were a tool for the audience to use to discuss thoughts on the theme or to identify with – without risk of over-sharing.

Conversation initially started off about the production and characters, “then they can get to talking about their own experiences when they are ready – but there is an awful lot they can talk about within the fiction, if you like”.

1 COMMENT

  1. I saw this performance as part of the 2018 Yarns in Barns Festival – excellent in so many ways.

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