Paying for it: an insider’s guide to the NZ sex industry
The Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003 but apparently sex work is still a controversial job choice. As one of the speakers says “It seems like never is a good time to talk about sex work. “ So it’s really neat that several have got together to tell us stories about their lives. None of them are stage performers but all are determined to conquer their nerves to let us know a bit about their lives.
There are themes through all the stories – discretion is their business. Sex work is basically therapy. The clients can be physically and verbally dangerous. The industry can be dangerous. The encounters can be emotionally charged experiences. The lines between professional and personal can blur. There are ethical as well as physical considerations. Boundaries, payment, and the eventual physical intimacy are important. We heard about workers supporting each other. Events that could have ended fatally for the individual and how skills of negotiation, confidence, and ingenuity were employed to save themselves. How working with disabled individuals is incredibly rewarding and how important it is to keep the rules of engagement clear.
Thank you to everyone involved in this talk. I thought it was fascinating.
[Note for the speakers – There’s no need for you to apologise for a (self-perceived) lack of presentation polish. Your words and stories are good – trust yourself!]
Easy living: life in a small town
Presented by Playshop this show is based around small town life. The ask fors are about the characteristics of living in a small town which the cast then riff off. It features a rolling cast and a structure of a scene with two people, then a monologue from one of them, then a scene between that person and someone else etc. On the night I went the cast was 6 men and 3 women which meant there were a lot of same-gender pairings. There were some really great (funny) moments and some near-misses resulting in a show that was more slice of life than a neatly wrapped up story. Special mention to the musical accompaniment and lighting people for their good work. (Sorry, no programme for names!)
An enjoyable early evening show.
- Easy living: life in a small town on at Gryphon Theatre to 19 February 2017
A monologue of self discovery from a genderqueer, kinky, femmesexual, polyminded, gay-divorcee.
From the opening sequence through to the end, this well constructed show fulfills the programme promise that “by the end of this show you will know more about me than most people care to learn and hopefully something about yourself.” Through seven pivotal life events performer Ren (as Michelle/Ryan) is charmingly and heartbreakingly open about the ongoing evolution of their identity. Clothes, education, sex, relationships, sex – nothing is left out of this storytelling event. Some things are described with musical instruments, some with props but mostly it is Ren alone on the stage with only their expressive voice and body to illustrate the story. Their story will resonate with anyone who has an identity different to the one they (or their family) thought they’d have.
Ze is a confrontation of the labels society has constructed for us as well as a reminder and a call to participate in the rainbow community that we, as diverse people, are already a part of. To be visible during Wellington Pride in order to celebrate our authentic selves. Tautoko.
AND preview Ren’s new show
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people and injured more than 200 in Norway. Before he attacked his fellow citizens he sent out a 1500 page manifesto containing racist propaganda, philosophical reflections, bomb manuals, interviews he conducted with himself and diary entries. Danish theatre makers Christian Lollike, Olaf Højgaard and Tanja Diers wondered what made him do it. They decided to investigate the Manifesto and the man behind the atrocities to see if they could figure it out. The result is this compelling exploration of how someone radicalises themselves.
I had misgivings about going to this show. The murders were a way to promote the manifesto, and with everything else going on in the world, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to engage with yet more hate and bigotry. But if I was to understand what steers people to politics so different from my own then I needed to give this a chance. I’m glad I did. As a theatre piece it’s stripped back and cleverly layered. It’s presented as Højgaard’s determination to ‘see the world through his eyes.’ Edwin Wright is great as Højgaard. He’s laid-back in the beginning then physically becomes more tense as he delves further and Højgaard’s investigation becomes less academic and more experiential. Wright is able to present the dilemma of being against the actions yet desperate to understand why ‘anyone can allow themselves to be manipulated in that way.’ Similarly the design (set by John Verryt, costume by Elizabeth Whiting) reflects this desire to see things in black and white, to study the light and the dark in order to extract some sort of meaning or logical progress. Ruby Reihana-Wilson’s excellent lighting design alongside Ander Falstie-Jensen’s direction is carefully judged to intensify tension or to puncture it.
As a ‘forum for discussing what goes on in our world’ (as described in the programme) it’s frightening. This is mostly about Europe but there are extreme rightwing groups advocating violence in New Zealand Aotearoa as well. It would be easy to demonise these people or to dismiss them for their very ordinariness. It would equally be as easy to be infuriated by their actions or their words. I refuse to be. I’m going to reread our Tom’s words and Alex Casey on the Spinoff and resist attempts to divide the world into us and them.
Thanks The Rebel Alliance for bringing this theatre piece to Wellington. I don’t think I enjoyed it but I appreciate that I had a chance to see it.
Every year millions of women and children around the world are trafficked and trapped in sexual exploitation. Using stories of real survivors, Out of Darkness presented by the Just Be Collective, follows the emotional journey of Alice as she is trafficked into sexual exploitation and then rescued and restored to find her way back to freedom.
Lead actress and creator Jess Brownell plays Alice, while James Bayliss plays multiple and contrasting male roles. Ivan Palezevic accompanies the physical theatre performance with narration and Alida Steemson directs.
The convincing movements from the leads almost tell the story alone as you’re instantly taken in by confronting scenes of Alice’s life, a credit to Jess and James for their expressive performances. The sound and lighting defines the scene and mood changes, while the narration gives further context to the story as it unfolds.
Out of Darkness tells a story of salvation, but the Just Be Collective acknowledges that it’s not the reality for most of the women and children trapped in the sex trade and will be donating all proceeds from the premier season to Destiny Rescue. A nice touch as the performance will leave you wondering what you can do to help.
Out of Darkness is on at BATS Theatre from 10-13 Feb as part of the Fringe Festival.