Open Letter: Melbourne Theatre Company's Production Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes

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'Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes' 'Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes' Image © Jo Duck

Melbourne Theatre Company makes its return to the mainstage with the Australian premiere of 'Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes'.


The play is a #MeToo-era take on a student-teacher romance by Hannah Moscovitch and directed by Petra Kalive. It's an exploration of power, truth and desire as Jon – a married, prize-winning novelist teaching at a university – catches himself one day admiring his student Annie in her red coat. Soon enough, as it progresses, Jon feels like their affair was destined from the start.

But what happens once the affair is over? Who controls the narrative?

Here, Assistant Director Isabella Vadiveloo pens an open letter about 'Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes', starring Dan Spielman and Izabella Yena.

“To produce a work titled 'Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes' at this time, in this climate in Australia, feels, of course, extremely relevant. But the reality is, this work could have been produced any time in the last hundred years, and unfortunately, it would feel relevant. The play examines the relationship between a university 'rockstar professor', Jon Macklem, and one of his 19-year-old students, Annie.

At its core this work is about power, and how power is assumed or allocated within our society. It also does what theatre does best – it invites us to sit with a room full of people and grapple with ideas that challenge us – concepts without clear solutions or neat endings. The power dynamics that exist in our society, particularly in regard to gender and sexuality, have always required questioning and interrogating, and in this moment we are again being reminded of that.

The making of this show happened against a stark backdrop of media and societal questioning of the very issues this work is about. The discussions we had in the room about what we were witnessing and feeling inevitably charges this performance with energy and high stakes. We were very cautious throughout it’s making to acknowledge the current moment, but to then also let it go, and focus on telling, simply and powerfully, the stories of Jon and Annie, and allow the audience to have the same reckonings we had (or different ones!) – rather than try and tell them what to think.”


'Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes' plays Southbank Theatre, The Sumner (Melbourne) 6 March-1 April.

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