When Jeremy Waters, Artistic Director of the Outhouse Theatre Company, approached his director Craig Baldwin to stage Heroes Of The Fourth Turning by Will Arbery at the Seymour Centre, Baldwin was “terrified” because some of the characters’ political views are diametrically opposed to his.
Set during the Trump era, Arbery’s play, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020, describes a meeting of four young friends a few days after the 2017 white supremacist riots in Charlottesville.
Arbery grew up in a Catholic conservative family. His parents run a Catholic college in Wyoming, and the play is set in a Catholic college in Wyoming,
“They are all people he knew intimately,” Baldwin said.
The friends are highly educated, whipsmart, conservative intellectuals who have graduated from a Catholic college in Wyoming where they studied Aristotle, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hannah Arendt, Shakespeare, archery and survival techniques among other things.
The significance of the title is that the “Fourth Turning” is a rightwing American prophecy about the cycles of history, and in particular the four kinds of turnings – High, Awakening, Unravelling, and finally Crisis, which the world is currently undergoing.
Baldwin said, “Australian audiences can enter the story as about another country and then start to understand the repercussions it might have for our country”.
“It’s portrayal of conservatives you don’t normally get to see on stage,” he adds.
“The question that really sparked it for Will,” Baldwin says,“is what do we do with the politics of the people we fundamentally disagree with. How can we continue to love them, can we continue to love them? And I think that was a really personal question for him because he was writing about his family, and all the people he grew up with, all the people he was surrounded by, all the people he is still very close to today.”
Mar 31-Apr 23. Seymour Centre, Cnr City Road &, Cleveland St, Chippendale. $33-$49+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.seymourcentre.com