A feminist reimagining of Joan of Arc

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The Rabble are a Melbourne theatre company devoted to creating surprising and challenging work – work that is political, feminist and experimental.

Their latest work, Joan, investigates the historic figure of Joan of Arc and what this 15th century French martyr and soldier means for women today.

Georgia Moodie speaks to co-founders of The Rabble and co-creators of Joan, Kate Davis and Emma Valente, and one of the four performers, Dana Miltins.

I recorded this interview for Books and Arts on ABC RN, and you can listen to it here.

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Nude dance work celebrates real women

Women performing in Trilogy (Photo: Will Potts)

Women performing in Trilogy (Photo: Will Potts)

More than 100 women are dancing nude in the Australian premiere of a work called Trilogy that seeks to celebrate women of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities.

After the exuberant nude dance, the second section of Trilogy revolves around a landmark discussion in New York in 1971 in which author and commentator Norman Mailer took on a panel of passionate feminists including Germaine Greer, Diana Trilling, Jacqueline Ceballos and Jill Johnston.

But in a world that still judges women on their appearance and the shape of their bodies, why does this work centre around female nudity?

I speak to the creator of this work, Glasgow-based artist Nic Green, and participants Claire McAllister and Felicia Lannan.

I produced this story for Books and Arts on ABC RN, and you can listen to it here.

All-female take on Shakespeare’s Coriolanus

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Heartstring Theatre is a new company that seeks to actively address the shortage of strong female acting roles, by producing plays where at least half of the actors on stage are women.

Their first production is Coriolanus, Shakespeare’s bloody tale of war, power and pride – with an all female cast.

Arguably one of Shakespeare’s most masculine plays, it tells the story of a warrior, Coriolanus, who is pushed by his mother and friends into the snake pit that is political office.

I speak to co-founders of Heartstring Theatre, Elisa Armstrong and Jo Booth, about their new venture and their first production. I produced this story for Books and Arts on ABC  RN and you can listen to the story here.

Knitting a response to gendered abuse

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In 2013, a news story about a performance work by Casey Jenkins, called Casting Off My Womb, went viral.

In that video, Casey is shown a long scarf from wool that she had inserted into her vagina – some of it dyed with her menstrual blood.

That news story has now been viewed 6 million times.

Casey received a lot of online abuse for her work, and most of the nasty comments were from other women.

Now, Casey is knitting a response to that abuse, as part of another performance piece for the Festival of Live Art in Melbourne, called Programmed to Reproduce.

In the first section of the performance, Casey knits herself a protective cocoon while nude, again from wool inserted into her vagina.

In another, Casey reads aloud some of the cruel comments she and her work received, and in the third, she uses industrial knitting machines to create oversized banners of the abusive comments.

I produced this story for ABC RN’s Books and Arts, and you can listen to the interview here.

Nude portraits challenge traditional gender binaries

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Artist and filmmaker Amy Amos Gebhardt’s latest work, There Are No Others, is a striking video portrait of people who identify beyond traditional gender binaries.

The work is on now at Gertrude Contemporary gallery in Melbourne’s inner-north, and it’s spread across five enormous floor-to-ceiling screens.

There Are No Others is a mesmerising video work that shows naked bodies ascending and descending in extreme slow motion, against the backdrop of a clouded sky.

The title is inspired by a quote from Indian sage Ramana Maharshi who, when asked how we should help others, is quoted to have said ‘There are no others.’

Electronic guitarist Oren Ambarchi composed the music that accompanies There Are No Others, and his mesmerising, sparse composition mirrors the sublime, stripped-back imagery in Gebhardt’s video installation.

I spoke to Amy for Books and Arts, and you can hear my interview here.