Young Novocastrian writer and director Cassie Hamilton has used her experiences as a transgender woman to examine the conflicts that inevitably arise from living up to expectations rather than your own sense of self.
The setting of her new work Playing Face, opening at the Civic Playhouse on Wednesday, is, aptly, the set of reality television show.
"We get to watch all these characters performing identity in a very strict way of how they see themselves and how they think they are expected to perform in the world," the 21-year-old. "But also break that apart and see why they have made that choice.
"The characters are heightened to a ridiculous extent but their core is real and that is what I think people will be able to relate to: how we push ourselves into these stories of who we are."
Producer Riley McLean, who identifies as non-binary, said it felt "very significant" to have two transgender people working on a play together in Newcastle, even though Playing Face does not examine the transgender experience per se.
Rather, the production draws out common concerns between gender diverse people and those who may have never given a second thought to their gender or sexuality, Hamilton said.
"Masculinity and femininity are two things that come up from the very beginning," she said. "There's a character that has a very strong grip on how they think a man should behave in the world, who pushes aside his femininity. Then there's a lot about how gender roles play into power dynamics in relationships.
"These are ideas that affect all of us and how we function in society. But we don't look at them, not unless we're forced to."
Ms Hamilton said the work explores the performance of identity more broadly, a complex topic for her generation, she said, at a time when many aspects of one's identity can have political meanings.
"As a young person I feel like through your teens you are working out who you are and who you are authentically," she said. "I also feel like in this highly political environment people are finding identities within politics and aligning their identities with certain views.
"I think this show helps break that down that, yes, you can believe certain things but that's not who you are. It strips characters to that core of just being human, being people."
Poignantly, the audience gets to experience the characters on and off-camera.
"The play is a meld of stage and screen," McLean said. "Which is something we haven't done before and haven't seen a lot of, even in contemporary theatre."
Bearfoot Theatre's sixth production Playing Face runs at the Playhouse until Saturday, followed by a stint at Sydney's Shopfront Arts.