A peek into teens bedrooms
Barking Gecko cast Mohammed-Adel Berrached, left, Harrison Elliott, Jacinta Larcombe, Rikki Bremner, Yilin Kong and Toby Derrick. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Barking Gecko Theatre Company has peered into the bedrooms of thousands of Australian teenagers to create its latest show for the Perth Festival.

About 2400 youths around the country have laid bare how they lead their lives in their most private domain, the room that is their refuge as much as their base for reaching out to the world through the internet.

A production team led by director John Sheedy and playwright Suzie Miller spent many months travelling the country to run workshops and pore over internet surveys of young Australians.

The results are unleashed on stage in Onefivezeroseven. The title comes from the average number of things owned by teenagers in their bedroom.

Sheedy said the research results could be put to more than their artistic use in this play, the second part of Barking Gecko's teenage-rampage trilogy which began in 2012 with Driving Into Walls.

Barking Gecko patron and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research patron Professor Fiona Stanley was among those interested in putting that information to use elsewhere, Sheedy said.

The show took an unflinching look at many issues teenagers often keep secret from their parents, he said. Politics, unsafe sex, drugs and internet porn are some of the matters dealt with based on the interviews.

Much of the strength of Onefivezeroseven came from its solid statistical base, Sheedy said. "The statistic that really rings out for me is how many of them, 70 per cent, are practising unsafe sex," he said.

"They think STDs can be cured just by popping a pill and don't think of the long-term damage.

"The other thing is how politically aware they are - and how politically aware they are about refugees."

Sheedy praised his six young cast members, who had only 3½ weeks to rehearse the show. Some of them had never acted professionally before, he said.

"That raw energy was really important to me to have that mix of quality in the young people up there. They are not all polished, that is part of it." Accompanying Onefivezeroseven at the State Theatre Centre this week is a photographic exhibition of images by young people who took part in the play's development.

The West Australian

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