Joel Bray’s “Considerable Sexual License” is now on Northcote Town Hall until Saturday, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who scored a ticket to this sell-out season, you’re in for a treat. Presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy as part of the YIRRAMBOI Festival, this confronting yet exciting participatory dance piece of theatre is an experience rather than a show, and if you’re open to experiences outside of your comfort zone, you’ll not only enjoy yourself, but you’ll take away something personal for yourself. Or at least, I did.
“Let all those inhibitions go baby, we’re gonna get…pre-colonial,” the blurb reads. “Rejecting the white, Christian, ‘straight’-jacket of sexual politics in Australia, this provocative performance blends cabaret, comedy, and choreography to tempt you to take part in this queering and radical re-examination of our close personal histories.”
On entering the space, it was as if I had stepped into a nightclub in the 90s. A disco ball. The lighting design was stunning. Dance music. Instantly I wanted to move to the sound, to be anonymous, to let go. We all stood around a large circle which had contained within it, a decent-sized circular green couch.
Some couldn’t help themselves, people danced, chatted, it was all very social, and then I noticed the cast – Joel Bray (Wiradjuri), Carly Sheppard (Wallangamma/Takalaka), Niharika Senapati and Daniel Newell – dressed in silver, parachute tracksuit outfits, mingling with the crowd. I felt very lucky when I had a little chat with Joel.
It wasn’t long before they broke away and began to dance. It was really intoxicating to watch. Then somehow, each performer inspired a section of the audience to dance with them through specific dance actions until we were all moving across and around the space in a rhythm that was fun, comical and also liberating, especially as the piece started becoming more and more sexual and climaxed in a delightful queer liberation. All aspects: dance, acting, lighting, sound, direction, costume and set where aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
But then the tone changed, and everything got serious. Led by key collaborators Joel Bray and Carly Sheppard, all the sex and liberation was covered up and almost repressed in a very Christian way. As Joel told his story, the damage done by colonialism was heartbreaking. I found this theatre piece very symbolic of how our ancestry, the pain of our upbringing, and our story, can affect our relationship to sex, and how that story lives in our DNA, forever affecting our relationship with ourselves and others. It is almost through the acceptance of this and the embracing of our identity can we truly heal. I really enjoyed this show and I can’t wait to see what Joel comes up with next.
Koraly Dimitraidis is a Cypriot-Australian writer and performer and the author of Love and F—k Poems and Just Give Me The Pills which together form the basis of her theatre show “I say the wrong things all the time” to be directed by Stephen Nicolazzo. Koraly does not have any other personal connection with any of the other cast or crew of this show. Koraly’s opinion articles/essays have been published widely including international publications in The Washington Post and The Guardian.
“Considerable Sexual License” runs 5th May – 15th April at Northcote Town Hall, Northcote. Book tickets here.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Darebin Arts
Photo credit: Bryony Jackson