Adelaide Playwright Tackles ‘Toxic’ Culture with Schmidt

A young Adelaide playwright and actor is readying himself to “have a crack at thinspo culture” with his new play Schmidt this July at the Bakehouse Theatre.

“I’m not against people doing yoga, or being a vegetarian – I’m a vego myself,” says Lochlin Maybury, writer of the satirical one-act show, Schmidt, “It’s when there’s this ulterior motive and superiority behind it that it becomes more toxic.” ‘Thinspo’ or ‘thinspiration’ culture is a contemporary social and editorial trend espousing new diets, beauty treatments, exercise regimes, health remedies and other sales driven solutions to the woes of daily life. Maybury thinks the culture is rotten, driven by advertisers and encourages anxiety in the general population. “The culture itself is quite insidious. It targets young people in this really toxic way.” Schmidt-Thinspo-Adelaide-Review-2 Set in a sharehouse, Schmidt seeks to expose and satirise the growing industry around wellness and ‘thinspiration’. “It’s about two housemates living together, and their previous housemate, Lauren Schmidt, who had all these brochures coming to the house.” Their peaceful existence is interrupted by “three demonic life coaches who spawn inside the house” over the course of the play, in a Christmas Carol-esque supernatural farce. “The play is a satire. It’s a farce. It’s almost like a distilled version of the culture.” The storyline is taken from Maybury’s own experience living in a sharehouse where a previous tenant had had a subscription to Women’s Health. Occaionsally flipping through the pages of the magazine he was shocked at what he saw as exploitative manipulation filling the editorial. “I looked through those magazines, and I would see these insane things, like this one for example, which is actually in the play verbatim: “The needle-free way to reduce wrinkles by up to 63%,” Maybury laughs. “I couldn’t believe that such an absurdity was in a popular magazine.”

Schmidt’s marketing seeks to satirise thinspo culture through one of its favoured channels: Instagram Asked why the thinks these sorts of articles are in strong supply, Maybury says that it all comes down to advertising and selling product. “It’s people in positions of power punching down. They see a market or an insecurity and create a need to fix something. It’s like, ‘You could be so remarkable and so glamourous… if you had this.’” But he is quick to note that he and his play Schmidt do not unilaterally condemn all aspects of the thinspo and wellness culture, saying that it is good for people to seek out healthy lifestyles, but that those lifestyles being used as proof of superiority over others is dangerous. “The idea that some forms of eating are clean and better might be somewhat true or it might not, but it’s when turns into a sort of moral statement that I disagree.“

Maybury is especially critical of the industry for an evident bias where “women are targeted far more often and widely than men.” As the debut show for Maybury’s company Back Porch Theatre, grants from local arts organisations were “instrumental” in being able to secure funding to develop and present the work, and Maybury is effusively thankful for that opportunity. “The Helpmann Academy and Carclew gave us so much help and support. I think in context of the current funding crisis it’s important we recognise that there are little bastions of hope.” Having taken part in a playwright mentorship with Nicki Bloom in 2012, where he first developed the concept for Schmidt, and being a graduate of the Flinders University acting program, Maybury looks forward to putting pen to paper again for future productions. “I always loved writing and language. The more I’ve done it, the more I’ve enjoyed it.” Schmidt Bakehouse Theatre Saturday, July 25 until Thursday, July 30 bakehousetheatre.com

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