Zero Feet Away: An experience

My love and I have ten minutes to find the venue and we’re lost. As we back track up Hindley street, we see a familiar face pop out of an alleyway and relief washes over me. We’ve found it. The alleyway is framed by posters for the show on either wall. I don’t know how we missed it. Others arrive at the same time we do, unexpectedly they are familiar faces that fill me with affection.

We are handed an instruction sheet to choose our nickname and log in to the show app. We make our nicknames and they wave us through. Down the alleyway and we swing left, down stairs and into a small room scattered with chairs. There is a small bar to the right and another small room with chairs. We can buy drinks at the bar and we continue to stumble into some of my favourite people as the venue fills up. We picked a good night to attend.

People gather in groups, some sitting on the scattered chairs and some standing, everyone waiting for the show to start. We pick out the actors by the small microphones taped along their jaws, they are dotted among us. The room has white sheets taped at various locations, we see the rolling projection of audience nicknames appear. We try to match nicknames with new people coming in. The projections match the app screen appearing on our phones. We’re all logged in and ready for whatever this is going to be.

Throughout the show I stand, I sit, I stand again. I eat crisps. I drink coke. I laugh. I cry. I feel the weight of sadness, of grief, of collective shame, of joy, of hope.

Technology is rough and ready, gritty with texture, projection sheets are slightly crooked, projectors are installed in milk crates. Actors look like me. Actors look nothing like me. Actors tell their own stories. Actors tell other people’s stories. Ushers are audience, are wait staff, are aware. Music is quiet, barely noticed but powerful, perfect, necessary. Audience can interact with their phones, or not. The phone app creating a tweet-stream like back channel, another way to listen, to learn, to question, to contribute.

This is the theatre I want more of. This is the theatre that I want to make more of. This is the theatre that I want to see more of. This is the theatre that I want there to be more of. Theatre that tells stories of here and now. Theatre that moves me. Theatre that reminds me. Theatre that pokes and prods. Theatre that unites and celebrates. Theatre that closes my throat with hurt. Theatre that fills my fingertips with hope. Theatre that is not perfect, does not try to be perfect. Theatre that is contextual and nuanced. Theatre that doesn’t have all the answers but has some offers. Theatre that takes me to old places in new ways or to new places in familiar ways. Theatre that does neither and both all at once.

It might not be your cup of tea, it might have a completely different effect on you. That’s okay. Not everything is for everyone.

 

*

 

ActNow Theatre

Zero Feet Away

January 25-28 2017

Ancient World

 

Director, Developer and Performer –
Edwin Kemp Attrill

Associate Producer –
Chiara Gabrielli

Divisors and Performers –
Matilda Bailey, Melissa Maidment, Jamila Main, Jason Masiglia

Composer and Musician –
Matthew Gregan

Lighting Design and Technician –
Alexander Ramsay

 

Breeding hurt: A statement in the now

From my experience, it’s very satisfying to hurt someone that has hurt you.

I don’t want to be that person ever again.

That doesn’t mean being silent. It doesn’t mean accepting or condoning. It doesn’t mean ignoring. It doesn’t mean that I won’t or shouldn’t fight. It doesn’t mean I won’t defend myself or others.

It does mean it’s not perfect. It does mean I have no clear answers, responses, solutions. It means I have only questions.

But I don’t want to be the person who deliberately seeks to hurt anyone for any reason. I don’t want to be the person who gains joy or satisfaction from hurting anyone, even the worst among us.

That is not the person I want to be.

I looked in the mirror and faced that and I don’t ever want to be that person again.

It’s not a reflection on anyone else and their way through difficulty, sometimes we do just have to kick and scream until the darkness bleeds. Sometimes we do have to compromise our deepest held values and selves. Sometimes we have to sacrifice everything we want to be for a bigger gain.

And truly, I probably will have to compromise my own integrity in the future again too.

I don’t know.

But I’ll have to weigh it with myself. With who I know I want to strive to live up to. And so I’m naming it. The thing I don’t want to become.

This is just me thinking out loud, with the circles that surround me, because we all have to wrestle with these choices and make our own answers. Reconcile our own journeys. Its not an absolute thought or a conclusion of any kind. It’s a feeling my way through the murk.

I share, not because I think I’m right, I’m more lost and weighted with doubts than anything else, I share because other people’s sharing helps me. So maybe my sharing of the mess and the wading through can have value for someone else.

 

**

I wrote this as a facebook status on January 23rd 2017. I am publishing it here so I can easily find it again as a reminder to myself, later.

Mobilising the future: Farewell 2016

One word to sing a new year in/ to lure gently in, to sit softly perched/ on my shoulder/ my lap/ my heart/ to be welcome//  #tinytwitterpoem (2015)

 

I enjoy marking time as an opportunity for reflection and growth. So for me the end of one year and the beginning of another is a beautiful time to gather my thoughts, say thank you for the year that has been and invite the coming year with intention.

 

My 2016 was on the less great end of the scale. As the year unfolded, my resilience and health unravelled. It was the cumulative impact of multiple personal losses (the deaths of friends and family in particular) as I tried to navigate a challenging professional year and the meat grinder of small but relentless personal and professional failures. The wearing down was very much exacerbated by some really shitty self-care on my part – physically and mentally – and I’m sharply aware of my own complicity in the year’s struggles.

 

fuck-crossstich

IMAGE: Photo of cross stitch made by Jamila Main (@xcrossbitchx on Instagram) that hangs in my office.

 

Subjectively and objectively comparing it to other years, 2016 has not been my worst year, but it has been one of the toughest emotionally. It’s rattled me in a way that some of my worst years never did.

 

2016 was also a year that was filled with some incredible highlights and soul-filling opportunities for gratitude.

 

Including (in no particular order):

 

  • Presenting my solo fringe show, Another Elusive Maybe. It was personal and vulnerable and outside of my comfort zone. The beautiful soundscape my friend and collaborator Ryan Morrison created for the show was a special gift. Watching and hearing people interact after the show gave me so much joy. And some very generous and heartwarming reviews, including this one from Jen St Jack at Great Scott.

 

“Amidst all the rabble about the true meaning of Fringe, I can tell you that this is it. Real art that pushes the boundaries – art that is completely different to anything you’ve experienced before.

Another Elusive Maybe is truly special. It’s an intimate and absorbing experience that cuts you off but leaves you wanting more.”

http://greatscott.media/2016/03/09/another-elusive-maybe/

Alex Ramsay loungeroom

IMAGE: Another Elusive Maybe, reflected selfie with the audience at Smith Street, February 2016.

  • All the beautiful and love filled weddings AND funerals I attended. These opportunities to be in the company of people I loved to share joy (and food), celebration and grief.
  • Nurturing so many rewarding projects with Carclew and City of Onkapringa as the Creative Producer of ExpressWay Arts. In particular in 2016, Brienna Macnish’s The Third Place, spending a number of weeks with Girls Yarning Group at Christies Beach High School and Kids Against Humanity’s Losing Faith in Unicorns.
  • Working alongside so many inspiring, supportive and excellent humans in my paid role, my independent projects and in my community.
  • Continuing to quietly make connections with the residents of Manifold Portrait at my own pace. This project, more than any other, is teaching me all the things.
  • The many other creative projects and opportunities I had, with special mention to Vitalstatistix’s Aeon Adhocracy residency, Spoken Word SA and City Library Poet in Residence program and Country Arts SA’s artist retreat.
  • Joining Adelaide Sword Academy’s long sword classes. Fun, rewarding and unexpectedly life affirming.
  • A perspective shifting and precious two weeks in the Kimberley as a participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. Followed by a week of getting to know the other participants in Melbourne and the knowledge that we have another 10months together in 2017.

alysha-after-the-kimberley-august-2016_photo-by-nova-peris

 

 

IMAGE: A tired, dirty and grateful me towards the end of our Kimberley adventure. Ft. busted boot. Photo taken by Nova Peris on mobile phone, August 2016.

  • Interstate trips for art and reunions that cemented how grateful I am to have this exceptional life.
  • All the delightful, generous and thoughtful emails, texts, facebook messages and tweets I’ve received this year from a host of excellent people. In particular those people who have reached out with kindness when I’ve been struggling and those people who have supported and encouraged my creative practice at its best and its worst.
  • Six (SIX!) amazing people who became my patrons in 2016, providing financial and moral support to my creative practice.
  • Watching my toddler grow and discover the world. Little people are such a source of joy and perspective.
  • Seeing my teenager growing into himself. Overhearing him tell his friend “Yeah, but you have to put yourself out there and try things.” This, of all the things in 2016, has felt like the biggest win. By itself, but in the context of history most especially.
  • Another year sharing this journey with my life partner. We’ve both struggled this year separately and neither of us have had the reserves to fully support each other, but even so, our life together is a great gift. I was also really proud of him for being a finalist in a state teaching award and kicking some of his own professional goals across the year.

 

shit-wife

IMAGE: iPhone screengrab, conversations with my love, 2016.

  • Developing some new friendships, deepening existing friendships and reconnecting with some old ones. Friendship is always something I’ve found difficult. I’m introverted (life is a kind of theatre too) and nervous and find making friends fraught with anxiety so the friendships I have are deeply treasured.
  • Beach visits, making time for running, living in a beautiful home, the resources to live and eat, visiting and experiencing SO MUCH thought provoking, life affirming, inspiring art in all its forms.

 

2016 has been brimming with highlights, joy and excellence and with heartache, unhealthy stress, disappointment, hurt and loss. Neither cancels the other out for me.

 

I have felt and do feel both deeply.

 

I have struggled (hard) this year, with situations and with myself. I have felt gratitude this year, deep and real and filling gratitude.

 

Thank you 2016.

 

Your difficulty has forced me to face myself, to see what I really want and to ask for it. Your grace has given me the support and energy to find my way through a year that wrecked me. Now I’m ready.

 

past-present-future

IMAGE: Past, present and future audit/artwork at Country Arts SA artist retreat, facilitated by Lenine Burke. Ft. my feet, November 2016.

 

Hello 2017.

 

Some people hate the idea of New Years resolutions and some people love them and commit (or not) to a special personal goal every year. A specific goal has never been my thing but I really like the process of choosing one word for the coming year. One word as a guidepost, intention, tone. In the same way that as a host I might think about the music I choose for an event, the music doesn’t guarantee that my guests will have a particular experience, but it helps set the mood to encourage one environment over another. Think playing screamo versus folk/indie. Neither is better or worse music but they create very different vibes and experiences for the people who are there.

 

Choosing a word for the coming year is an opportunity for me to consider the kind of space I want to shape for myself. To think about how I live in my values, to bridge the gap between who I am and who I want to be and to let go of any baggage I’m carrying from the year that has been.

 

My word for 2017 is:

 

Mobilise

 

[moh-buh-lahyz]

 

  • Organize and encourage (a group of people) to take collective action in pursuit of a particular objective

 

  • Bring (resources) into use for a particular purpose

 

  • Make (something) movable or capable of movement

 

2016 brought into focus what I really want and what needs to happen to get there, so 2017 is taking the first steps to realize my way there.Mobilising myself, my resources, my communities to bring to life the best in all of us along the way.

 

See you in 2017, my loves.

 

x

 

A small selection of the things that shaped me, inspired me, moved me in 2016:

 

Music

Joelistics, Blue Volume album

Electric Fields, Inma EP

Anohni, Drone Bomb Me single

Tina Arena, When You’re Ready single

 

Books

Bruce Pascoe, Dark Emu

Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicles

Guy Gavriel Kay, The Fionovar Tapestry (again)

Shane Koyczan, a bruise on light

Andrea Gibson, Pole Dancing to Gospel Hyms

 

Theatre

Lisa Fa’alafi and Candy and Kim Bowers, Hot Brown Honey

Emma Beech, Life is Short and Long

Vitalstatistix, Adhocracy

PACT, Rapid Response Team

 

**

 

 

 

 

 

Envelope(d)

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I made a stop motion animation for a uni assignment last month (October 2016).

500 or so individual pages with hand drawn images in black texta.

I passed the assignment, so yay on that front.

And now I have 500ish sheets of paper that I am giving another life to.

I’m recycling them into snail mail as a rolling project of connection, hello and sharing for anyone who wants in.

So if you’d like a letter/poem/something else sent to you or someone you know, just email me with the address details and who you’d like it addressed to. Put ‘Envelope(d)’ as the subject line.

pressurelands AT me DOT com

Or fill out the contact form below.

x

Save

A sea of not silent: Other words in other places.

I’ve been a little quiet here, but I’ve been sharing plenty of other words and insights in other places. So if you’re hankering for my writerly voice – duck over to my patreon here (updates on my latest exploration as a poet in residence at City Library) or my artist facebook page here (various bits and bobs, some old and some new).

And of course I’m always writing micro poetry over on Twitter as @lylyee using #tinytwitterpoem.

I will be sharing some things right back here on the original bloggio in August though, so don’t abandon me entirely.

 

x

Turnings on Edges #effyourbeautystandards

*

Originally published by the Skin Deep Project May 2014

*

Last month I said I’d talk about the ‘turning point’ for me in learning to love and accept my body. But I actually told a bit of a fib. That’s not *exactly* what I’m going to share. I can’t talk about the turning point, because I didn’t win the war with my body.

 

My body is not a static, unchanging experience.

 

My body has grown two children. It has fluctuated in dress size, in fitness, in muscle tone, in appearance. I have new scars, freckles and moles. My dress sense has changed as my life (and confidence) has changed. My hair colour and style is an ongoing party.

 

I didn’t win the war against my body because I am my body. Because my body changes and so do I. Instead, I have (tried to) embraced honesty with myself. I have (tried to) embraced self-reflection and the process of asking myself – why?

 

Why do I find my body lacking?

Why do I measure my body against a narrow and media defined beauty standard?

Why do I tie my body to the sexual desire of others?

Why do I punish my body and soul for failing these arbitrary standards?

Why do I de-value the experience and strength of my body?

Why have I sought aesthetic beauty and in doing so made my body, heart and soul sick on many occasions?

 

Why? Why? Why?

 

And somewhere within exploring these whys, I’ve found a healthy tension between seeking improvement and loving what is – and discovering that I want and need both. And that’s okay. It really is okay. My body is not a static, unchanging experience. My body is a lesson. A lesson in gratitude. A lesson in humility. A lesson in honesty. A lesson in love. There are days when I love my body, it’s shapes and curves and aesthetics. There are days when all I can see is how far I am from the ideal presented to us in the media. There are days when I don’t even really notice my body.

Mummy with Amaya

Image: with Amaya, one day old 2014.

My daughter will be six weeks old this Saturday. She came into the world on Easter Saturday after a very painful but uncomplicated labour. My strong, powerful and healthy body brought both of us safely through that experience. And as I’ve nursed her over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the body messages I want to give her. The way she’ll feel when she looks in the mirror. I have years to figure out what I want to say to her and years to continue shaping how I role model the lessons I hope she learns but here are some early thoughts for her (and for you, reading this):

 

  • You are glorious. Glorious and powerful beyond your believed boundaries.
  • Your body (and your life) belongs to you. Keep exploring and decide which adventures you want to deepen. And which you want to discard. Choose deliberately.
  • Whatever else you do, care for your body, it is the vessel carrying you through your life. Make it last and enjoy what it can do – if you let it – bodies are fun!
  • I cannot give you the answers. I cannot erase the doubts, the fears, the pain you will encounter – but I will be here. To hold you. To listen. To make you cups of tea.

 

 

Turn these corners.

Fold them in to,

New mirrors,

Blank pages,

Deep dreams.

 

What’s your favourite body positive message or piece of advice?

 

 

**

 

 

 

 

Fatty Number Two

*

Originally published by the Skin Deep Project April 2014

*

Fatty Number Two

*My body did nothing to you.

 

 

Does anyone else remember being weighed in PE class at school? Do they still do that?

 

I’m not sure, but I think this is where one of my high school nicknames began.

 

Fatty Number Two.

 

I still don’t know who Fatty Number One was.

 

Although I don’t remember what I weighed and therefore can’t tell you my BMI or any surface indicator like that – I can tell you that I walked to school every day and I was the second fastest in my class in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. And looking back on photos from that period – I wasn’t fat at all** – I was healthy and beautiful.

 

prom

Image: aged 12, attending a school formal

 

(**And even if I had been, clearly Fatty Number Two was not an appropriate nickname for anyone to be gifted with!!)

 

Yet I believed I was fat, because I’d been labelled fat and therefore fat I was. My relationship with food quickly became an unhealthy dance between eating nothing and shovelling in a chocolate bar where no one could see me. My body was a source of shame, something to be covered, hidden and punished.

 

As I entered the official ‘teen’ years, I hit puberty early and was one of the first girls in my class to have breasts. And even once the other girls joined me, I remained one of the bustier in my age group throughout high school. Cue bra strap pulling and another new nickname ‘socks’. I had a boy in Year 9 date me for a week just because he wanted to confirm that my breasts were real and not a bra full of socks/tissues.

 

Sigh.

 

My body just refused to conform. Refused to let me disappear into the background, however much I wanted it to. I spent less time eating and more time pretending to eat. The secret chocolate bars disappeared. Yet rather than becoming smaller, my body betrayed me and I actually started to gain weight.

 

I felt trapped. Trapped and fat and ugly. Undesirable. Undesirable in a world which told me being desirable was the road to love. My body had become a battleground, though I don’t remember ever signing up for the war.

 

Your name, here.

Ready to stand

Arms raised

Songs spilled

Border to border

With shaking hands.

 

We march, together

Apart, separate

From the skin we live within

The smile lines that coat hands

Faces, familiar spaces.

 

We sing,

Histories into scars

Bodies into boxes

Heroes into holes.

 

We speak,

With lips that shake

Eyes that remake

These models,

To measure by.

 

I intend to write about the turning point in my war with my body next month – but I wanted to ask you all, what has been the turning point for you or someone you know? And if you haven’t found the turning point yet, what do you think would help?