New Theatre's Jumpers For Goalposts – Open Letter From The Show's Director

New Theatre joins the Sydney WorldPride celebrations as it presents Tom Wells' play 'Jumpers For Goalposts' as part of Pride Amplified.

'Jumpers For Goalposts'

'Jumpers For Goalposts' is a heartwarming comedy about football, friendship and finding your way. Directed by Alice Livingstone, the play follows five personalities – all with goals of on-field success within their soccer team Barely Athletic – as they intersect and support each other in different ways off the field.

'Jumpers For Goalposts' is a theatrical representation of sport's ability to unify and unite.

Here, 'Jumpers For Goalposts' Director Alice Livingstone pens an open letter about the production and its characters.

“I’m a cis heterosexual woman, with many gay friends, male and female – in fact, the majority of my friends. I’ve always considered myself a ‘fellow traveller’, certainly an ally, and ‘queer’ in the broadest sense of the word.

Over the past two decades, in my theatre practice, I’ve produced or directed or performed in – I counted them – 15 plays dealing with the LGBTQI experience: from the Australian premieres of Mark Ravenhill’s 'Mother Clap's Molly House' and Matthew Todd’s 'Blowing Whistles', to revivals of classics such as 'My Night With Reg', 'Privates On Parade', 'Entertaining Mr Sloane', and 'Bent'.

'Jumpers For Goalposts' is a welcome addition to the list. I first became aware of the play around six years ago; the Play Assessors at New Theatre had read it and felt it was a perfect play for the company to present during the annual Mardi Gras festival. However, the rights proved elusive, and so it moved onto the ‘maybe one day’ back burner.

Then, last year, Louise Fischer, the Artistic Director, made an application one more time, and voila! The rights to this Sydney premiere were granted, and it was subsequently programmed to be the New’s offering as part of Sydney WorldPride in February/March 2023.

I immediately put up my hand to direct, because I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my January than bringing this funny, truthful, tender and charming play to the stage.
Jumpers cast tile
L-R: Isaac Broadbent (‘Danny’), Nick Curnow (‘Joe’), Emma Louise (‘Viv’), Sam Martin (‘Luke’) and Jared Stephenson (‘Beardy Geoff’).

'Jumpers For Goalposts' revolves around a five-a-side soccer team that compete in a local amateur LGBTQI competition in the northern city of Hull, England (the title comes from the practice of using objects to mark out the goals in street games). The team is called Barely Athletic, which pretty much sums up their ability.

There’s Viv, the player/coach of the team, who runs a gay pub in town; her brother-in-law Joe, the token ‘straight guy’, unfit and still grieving the death of his wife, Viv’s sister, a loss that Viv is dealing with in a very different way. Then there’s Beardy Geoff, a gay busker, who’s recovering from a serious bashing and dreams of performing on the Hull Pride stage; Luke, a shy library assistant, tentatively taking his first steps into the gay world; and Danny, a sports science student, coming to terms with recently being diagnosed with HIV.

Sport is one of the great unifiers in our society. Whether watching it or playing it, for a large portion of the country, it is an intrinsic part of life: following your favourite team, devoting yourself to hours of training each week, or simply enjoying a social hit on the local tennis court or a casual game of touch football.

'Jumpers For Goalposts' is much more than just a story about a pretty hopeless bunch of players getting together over a month of Sundays to kick a ball around. It celebrates the special friendship that can exist between gay men and lesbians, it explores how the public display of masculinity can often mask vulnerability and longing, and how these five ordinary people, male and female, gay and straight, find camaraderie, fulfilment and love. The true meaning of community lies at the heart of this play.

It’s also very funny!”

'Jumpers For Goalposts' plays New Theatre 7 February-4 March as part of Sydney WorldPride's Pride Amplified.