KING – Shaun Parker Pens Letters To His Younger Self

As part of Sydney WorldPride, Shaun Parker & Company presents 'KING' in a limited return season of the internationally-acclaimed production.

'KING' - Image © Prudence Upton

'KING' furthers Shaun Parker & Company's reputation for combining cutting-edge choreography, theatrical invention and striking soundscapes.

Led by award-winning Australian director/choreographer Shaun Parker, and Bulgarian singer-songwriter Ivo Dimchev, it's set in a fantastical realm and is a bitingly provocative interrogation of male power, control, and group dynamics. Ivo's seductive, original score drives the narrative for the inspired choreographic work – a work triumphantly relaunching as part of WorldPride after a COVID-induced shutdown.

Here, thematically matching 'KING''s overall messaging, Director and Choreographer Shaun Parker pens open letters to his younger self over the years.

“Dear 8-year-old Shaun,

How are you? What have you been learning in school? I know your speech therapist has been helping you with your stutter, and now you can say whole sentences – that’s amazing. Remember when you never thought you would. Well look at you now! And one day you’ll speak so much no one will be able to shut you up. Just keep being you. Keep loving and smiling as big as you do. Even when people think you’re weird! You’ve got so much love in you and it’s a super-power! I know dad is hard on you and Kimmy and Cory and mum. I know sometimes he calls you a skinny girl and a failure. But he does love you and he’s proud of you. He always tells you to sing for people, even for strangers passing through Mildura, so he must be proud, right?

PS – I heard you have a crush on Gared AND Fiona in your class. Good on you!”

Shaun Parker AsAChild
Shaun Parker in Mildura, by the Murray River

“Dear 13-year-old Shaun,

How are you? How are your dance lessons going? I know you’re getting picked on because you dance, and sing with high voice. I know those four boys from the pool held you down and punched you and dragged you along the hot asphalt and called you a faggot. But you held your ground. You fought back too, and that was good. Just remember that it is important to cry and let your emotions out, even though you are told to ‘never cry’. I know you wish dad was kinder and more loving. He’s probably out on the farm with Cory right now getting him to do 100 push-ups and sit-ups and then over to the punching bag for another few hours of training. I know you and Kimmy feel left out and invisible. But it’s okay. This is hard for Cory too. Just have patience and keep your head down. I know you hate it when mum and dad argue. When dad throws his dinner plate at the wall. I know you get scared. But remember he is human too and he isn’t perfect. He’s trying his best and working his butt off 12 hours a day to provide for the family. One day, he’ll be astounded at what you’ve done. At all you’ve accomplished. You just keep your head down and keep being yourself and doing your best, no matter what anyone says.

PS - Do you still have crushes on Gared and Fiona, or someone else?”

KING PrudenceUpton2
Image © Prudence Upton
“Dear 18-year-old Shaun,

How are you? Are you enjoying your science degree? I hear you’re doing really well and finding out lots of fun facts. I know you’re spending lots of time with girls and you love that. But don’t forget it’s okay to like guys too, no matter what they said or called you in Mildura. You’re in Melbourne now and the city is big and welcoming – enjoy it! I know you’ve been thinking about dancing. About trying out for VCA. Don’t question it. Jump! LEAP! You have no idea how much of the world will open to you. The amazing experiences you’ll have with men and women. And one day, you may even run your own successful company and tour work across the world. One day.
Be proud of yourself kid – the world’s your oyster!

PS - Did you know there’s more than 1,000 species of animals that are queer? Probably more!”

'KING' plays Seymour Centre as part of Sydney WorldPride, 28 February-4 March.