“My boy likes to wear colours. Patterns, textures, bold and bright.
Massive necklaces, wicked florals, his growing body all alight.”

A Kindling Throne is an immersive theatrical event that responds to the crisis in masculine identity and expectation that we see in Australian society today.  The project aims to make a positive contribution to the question of how we bring up our boys to be respectful, productive, collaborative members of our communities – “What are the positive role-models we want our boys to be inspired by?”

The event will combine spoken word, mythology and a community choir in an immersive environment reminiscent of an indoor forest.  We are partnering with Bendigo Venue and Events to present A Kindling Throne, working with award-winning professional artists and members of the community to create this unique and timely community event.

Audio

Poster

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My boy likes to wear colours.

My boy likes to wear colours
Patterns, textures, bold and bright
Massive necklace, wicked florals
His growing body all a-light

There are pictures of me wearing colours when I was in kinder.  Bright red, vivid sky blue, orange and yellows.
Then, as I get older, the colours get duller.
I move to Navy and greys.  Black and whites.
I don’t remember ever thinking about it
But, the photo album hints that it was school.  School uniform that took grey and maroon, and bottle green to the front of the style guide. No patterns.  No textures.  Block colour. Spot colour.

From there, the style guide never ever ventured too far in any other directions.  I took pride in buying in bulk, my dress choices were in 5 year plans. I didn’t need to think too much. Other people knew what to expect.

In my 20s tight black or white t-shirts when I was proud of my body.  Later on, looser black, as I experimented with the Dad bod more and more every year.

My boy likes to wear colours
The other kinder boys agree
Mostly with each other
That colours aren’t the way to be

I open up the drawers each morning, and stand my boy up on the table to dress him.  We have a game where I hold up clothes and he says yes or no to each one.  There is a particular favourite rose print t-shirt with panels of different kinds in it.  My 1800s Methodist self wonders why anybody needed to put so much effort into a t-shirt for a 4 year old.  But, it really is an incredible t-shirt.  He loves it.  I hold it up first because I know how much he likes it, and we’re running a little late, so it would be good to move things along.

Not that one, Dad.  Not that one.
It stopped me.  The game is only ever Yes or No.
Okay.
But I still held it in my hands.
It’s for girls. He said.
The other boys said that it’s for girls.
I put it in the drawer and held up some others.  Just like any other day. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Yes. It was navy.  With an open-mouthed T-rex on the front.  Somebody bought it for him last Christmas.  It’s a choice too.

My boy liked to wear colours
The accessories were wild
Jingle jangle bangled sparkling
He smiled with so much pride

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t care what he wears.  I mean, I don’t have a preference for what he wears. If he loves navy with raging dinosaurs, or robot warriors or snarling tigers, that’s all fine with me.  What I don’t like, is the idea that the boys at kinder are teasing him about what he’s wearing.  I said.  My voice unexpectedly cracking.

. . . he told me this morning that he didn’t want to wear his rose-print t-shirt because the other boys told him it was for girls. I just want to.  I mean.  Have you seen the other boys teasing him about what he wears??

No. We’re very sensitive to bullying.

Yeah, it might not be bullying. Like bullying bullying. It might just be normal, you know, normal . . . I was right on the verge of crying . . . I want him to feel like he can wear whatever he wants, and, he’s only 4, he shouldn’t have other boys trying to regulate his tastes when he’s only 4!!

My boy he still likes colours
He likes swords and ‘splosions too
He wakes up screaming about shadows
Just like I used to do

My boy he still likes colours
He likes wands and witches too
I want to protect him from the bad old ways
Draw a door we’ll both walk through

I think it might be confusing for him. When what I do and what I say might not be the same thing. What I model in my behaviour, and what I hope I can encourage him to become are at times quite different things.

And the kind of man I would like him to be
And the kind of man he would like to become
They might not be the same thing either.

Project partners

Arena gratefully acknowledges the support of Creative Victoria and Bendigo Venues & Events towards our project.