Tag: Candy Bowers

Arts House Presents TRILOGY

An incredible exploration of modern feminisms

By Myron My

Before Trilogy begins, Nic Green appears on stage to inform us that due to unforeseen circumstances, her co-performer Laura Bradshaw would not be participating this evening. Rather than cancel it, Green has fortunately decided to make some changes to allow the show to work. I say fortunately because Trilogy ends up being a brilliant feminist performance art piece on women reclaiming their bodies and their rights, and it would have been an absolutely shame to miss out on this experience.

Trilogy

The first part of Trilogy examines how women’s bodies are presented in the public eye and how women view their own bodies. Green begins with a humorous cheer-leading routine that eventually turns into a group of about thirty Melbourne women performing a dance with a freer choreography. However, these volunteers are naked and cover all shapes, sizes, ages and race. They dance joyfully and connect with each other, allowing all their body parts to move along to the music uninhibited. These women are proud and will not conform to the expectations that they must be quiet and passive. It is a physical celebration of women and their bodies, of being a woman and of what it means to be a woman.

Part two focuses on the historical context of feminism with use of the documentary Town Bloody Hall, a debate on women’s liberation that took place in 1971 and was moderated by Neil Mailer. The panel of feminists included Germaine Greer and Jill Johnston and excerpts of their speeches are projected onto the screen. Joining Green on stage are Murray Wason, Bron Batten and Candy Bowers, and together they share their own experiences of gender roles and expectations and how these moments shape how society forms. What is revealed is the stark realisation of how much further we’ve got to go for equality and representation, despite how far we have seemingly come.

The third section, which appears to be most affected by Bradshaw’s absence, has Green giving a lecture on women creating their own “herstory”. Using the English hymn Jerusalem by William Blake, which was the official song of the suffragette movement, Green encourages women to reconnect, reclaim and re-frame their gender, which culminates in an empowering and liberating moment.

It is virtually impossible to walk out of Trilogy and not be determined to want to create change in society, regardless of what your sex or gender may be. But Green is specifically encouraging women to unite and explore their feminism, to make a stand, to fight for what they want, what they deserve, and as she declares at one point, “to start your own fucking movement”. Perhaps this is when the next revolution finally begins. 

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: Until 26 June | Thurs – Sat 8.30pm, Sun 2pm 

Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Conc | $30 Student

Bookings: Arts House

Image by Bryony Jackson

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MTC Presents STRAIGHT WHITE MEN

Four blokes and one family Christmas

By Myron My

Upon entering Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre Melbourne, you can’t help but notice Candy Bowers as the Stagehand-in-Charge sitting up in her booth, playing some hip hop music, including Khia’s racy “My Neck, My Back”. As the music plays, she regularly glances over the audience while flicking through a newspaper, the back page emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter”. Considering we are about to see Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, a play about a family of the four eponymous men getting together for Christmas celebrations, the ruthless satire is punching us in the face, especially as she makes her way down to the stage and introduces us to the make-believe world.

Straight White Men.jpg

The “brotherly” chemistry between Hamish Michael, Luke Ryan and Gareth Reeves, as siblings Drew, Jake and Matt respectively, is undeniable. Their scenes together have a believable authenticity and you do feel like they have known each other for their entire lives. Michael in particular is a highlight as the youngest sibling, trying to help his family while trying not to be seen as the baby of said family. Ryan also impresses with his alpha-male banker who would prefer that the status quo under which he is comfortably living is not ruffled. Reeves as the oldest sibling offers an accomplished performance as a white man struggling to find his place in society and to not be seen as living off his privilege. Despite the other characters being louder and more animated than Reeves’, he manages to have a quiet but strong presence on stage. John Gaden as patriarch Ed, brings a nurturing and fragile depth to the man who only wants the best for his children.

The set and costume design is another impressive feat by Eugyeene Teh. While this is a little more conservative than what I’ve previously seen in his work (and this is due to the script itself), he captures the mood perfectly and once again is able to make the environment just as much of a character in the story as the four men on stage. Along with Lisa Mibus‘ intelligent lighting and David Heinrich‘s sleek sound design, all the elements come together seamlessly for Straight White Men.

While I enjoyed the show, especially the stellar performances from the cast, I feel Lee’s script ultimately lacked a deeper exploration of what these men are actually arguing about and the privilege they have, to really leave a mark. There are some extremely funny scenes and some that capture realistic sibling relationships, but the overall story seems to become preoccupied with this humour at the expense of the more powerful issues. It is clear Lee knows what she wants to say but possibly not how she wants to say it.

Straight White Men is an enjoyable performance, but this play ends up more a family Christmas dramedy than an intended piece of satire that will have people – mainly straight white men – questioning their privilege and perceiving how lucky they are.

Venue: Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, 3004
Season: Until 18 June | Mon – Tues 6.30pm, Wed 1pm, Wed-Fri 8pm, Sat 4pm and 8.30pm
Tickets: $39 – 77
Bookings: MTC