Well Well Well, here she is…or ze is…since apparently Michelle, ‘scuze me, Michelle/Ryan/Ren, whomever you are today, decided to come out as genderqueer, write a show about it, and bring it to three or four countries in the last year. Is this what they do in New Zealand?
No….things have been brewing for me in this direction for a while and it is both a tremendously big deal and not a big deal at all. I’m going to save posting about it until my show gets closer to opening as it is sort of a “reveal all” of my journey in gender, sexuality, and related identities.
If you haven’t seen the improved page for it, please have a visit “Ze”: queer as fuck!
Why the naughty title?
That one I will answer now (although you can read my thoughts on censorship in detail in an earlier blog post here.) To sum up: it is intended to be provocative for two main reasons:
- To keep OUT those whose sensibilities are easily offended. It’s an 18+ show with some graphic, but entirely appropriate descriptions of my real sex life. This title will also DRAW people who understand that what’s offensive for some, is glorious empowerment for others. Shame and pride are two major themes in my show, so I had to go all the way with this one.
- Because the other major theme of my show is identity, labels, and why I sometimes feel like I have something to prove to my friends, my parents, my neighbors, and my own “open-minded” LGBT community….this list is endless and I’m not the only one frustrated. So like others I simplify myself, and in doing so land somewhere other than the experience of real understanding and belonging. The title reflects that.
Ok, the show is out of the way, what else have I been up to this last year?
My website changes reflect some of it. I had a wonderful and confirming experience at Adelaide Fringe with my last show. I learned a lot, made lots of new artist friends, discovered how much I love doing fringe, made some contacts, and just generally got myself out there!
I drove myself back to Sydney and had to say a very very sad goodbye to my beloved car and home, Alice. She was an old girl and had to be put out to pasture. But she had an amazing last ride! A few hours before they took her away I lay in the back on the bed….remembering. It started to rain, and my breath fogged up all the
windows revealing a gallery of finger paintings I and my partner S had made during our road trips. (We disturbingly never cleaned the inside of the windows.) All those hours of driving led to a lot of window touching and it was the most ephemeral and moving thing to witness.
After that, we couldn’t sort our stay in Australia. Our visas expired. But we had been accepted for visas in New Zealand! So we very quickly left.
New Zealand is NOT NOT NOT Australia.
Sure they have a few things in common. But it was an immediate
weather and culture shock for us. I was depressed. I craved nature and anonymity, silence far from the maddening crowd, and quite possibly, an
escape from my self-judgement about my lack of answers to the big “What now?” I just hadn’t planned beyond this HUGE event for me, and I was ashamed that once again, aged 31, I had no idea what to do with myself. So I shut down twitter, blogging, and even a fair bit of facebook.
We bought a campervan and started to travel north, seeking the sun and the warmth. So much of this country reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. I will have a whole other blog post at some point about New Zealand. I have learned much here and it has grown on me considerably.
Winter was upon us. I wanted to find a northern town to work in, not too far from the subtropics. I didn’t have any of my winter gear and shivered constantly. (What a terrible webfoot I’ve become.)
Whangarei, New Zealand.
It has trails in the bush (with actual hills), a small town basin, and an arts community. Perfect! Let’s work here a while.
A month passed. Just as we were about to run out of money, we found jobs. I learned to make fancy kiwi-approved coffee in a cafe, then used my cooking skills to fill in when they needed a chef. It was good to do something social, and physical, and humbling. It also forced me to meet people.
Poetry, BARE, and “Ze”
I saw opportunities to perform at a local bar and after I had a few good receptive audiences to my poetry I started to write more. I met other performers. I judged a high school competition. My show “Ze” would wake me up occasionally and I would write a scene here, a scene there, casually, for months.
By springtime (Sept) I had enough content for a show. I kept writing and performing other things. I asked my new artist friends to collaborate. I found a marvelous director, Peter Larsen, who is now also my flatmate. I went to Australia again in November for the launch of an anthology I’d contributed to called BARE. I did my first live reading of one of my short stories to an audience at the New South Whales Writers’ Centre and I loved it. My Australian friends even came!
I came back to a blur of production meetings and script revisions and now rehearsals.
And like eating an elephant, I realized that one bite at a time I was working my way to doing fringe again. And not only that, I would do more fringes, and do them all just a little bit smarter. I applied for 5. I was accepted into 4, and I sort of have an idea about how they work now.
Now I have a preview in a week and open in two weeks, and in some ways I am ahead of the game (in comparison to last year) and in other ways I am behind. Live and learn. Keep going. Keep making art, taking risks, getting things finished and seen.
We’re all caught up. I made serious revisions to my website including pictures. Most of them are unprofessional selfies. I simply don’t look like the same person as when I started this blog two years ago and it’s more important to me to represent myself accurately than well. After nearly two years in Oceana, I am NOT the same person. Some people even say I have an accent.
Thank you if you are still willing to read this after all this time. I promise I’ve been productive and brave enough to pick it up where I left off and keep going. I hope you’ll continue to follow. I’ll make it worth your while. Don’t forget I’m all over Facebook too!
All my love darlings! You are my people.
P.S. Also check out my ongoing site-specific art installation I call Hypergraphia.