Violent art exploited and explored

By Myron My

MKA: Kids Killing Kids is about four people – David Finnigan, Georgie McAuley, Jordan Prosser and Sam Burns-Warr – who went to the Philippines and created a play called Battalia Royale. It was an adaptation of the infamous Japanese novel/manga/film Battle Royale, where a group of children are drugged, wake up in a forest armed with an array of weapons, and are told there can be only one survivor, which results in a gruesome kill-or-be-killed fight. The worldwide response the play-makers received for their stage adaptation was something they never imagined, and in MKA they share their story with us.

MKA Kids Killing Kids

Kids Killing Kids starts off in a quite humorous and naïve manner – possibly emulating how these four theatre-makers felt during the initial creative process of Battalia Royale. It feels like you’re listening to a friend return from a holiday, with their jokey insights about random slogans seen on t-shirts and watching six-year-olds crump. Slowly, the tone changes to a more serious and thoughtful discussion on the after-effects of the play and the political situation in the Philippines.

The quartet repeatedly ask us – and themselves – what responsibility do they have as theatre-makers to their cast, the audience and the wider community, especially when their art involves a group of children violently and bloodily killing each other? Can they get away with it because it’s not real? Can such a play have a purpose, or is it just glorified violence? Perhaps there is no definitive answer for these questions and indeed, the creators here don’t pretend to know all the answers and seem just as lost and confused as we do when it comes to any final enlightenment.

The production of Kids Killing Kids is slick: the writing is sharp and the flow of information is smooth and well-thought-out. However, I did have a problem with the emotive but obvious pauses and silences and questioned their dramatic purpose being in conflict with their authenticity. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the four people involved, but such theatrical devices remind me I am watching a deliberate performance rather than sharing this real-life experience with them.

But perhaps this is the point. Is it a documentary? Is it theatre? Either way, MKA: Kids Killing Kids is going to leave any artist with a lot of questions about the complex roles we play in creating theatre and what boundaries we should and should not cross.

MKA: Kids Killing Kids is showing as part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Venue: Fringe Hub – The Warehouse, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 3 October |Tues-Sat 9:00pm, Sun 8:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: or 9660 9666