‘I LOVE the internet, because I can go ONLINE.’ In line with this statement by choreographer Teresa Vittucci, Springback writers Annette van Zwoll (AvZ) and Evgeny Borisenko (EB) decided to share their experiences of the Queer Darlings festival via Facebook messenger. Listen in on their exchange below.
EB: I found One of a Kind very problematic, because although everything had this radical queer performance flair, it lacked critical distance from queer performance clichés: do a lip-sync, wear a superlong dress then a tight crop-top, sing cabaret, be dramatic, do some artsy namedropping and put rainbow onstage. It looked like a chaotic catalogue of ‘something queer’.
AvZ: At some moments, though, I was confronted with the cultural constructs I have internalised. For example, when they lip-sync and act out this song about a man cheating on his wife and eventually discovering that the man of the woman he is cheating with is gay, the performers change gender roles. I noticed that I got pretty confused when I heard the word ‘man’ in the song, while seeing what I perceived as a woman on stage. Such a simple strategy, but very effective!
EB: This queer reenactment of a classic adultery comedy was a very ingenious and refreshing attempt to bypass limits of perception and labels. But many of the clichés that were used, although funny, failed to reveal the burning issues underlying these clichés. Riebeek chose to use them as a filler (and not a filter), to fill the show with something dramatic and sexy.
AvZ: I think the context had influence on the impact of those clichés as well. When the performers asked straight audience members to raise their hands while insinuating the performance was more fit for gay people, it felt like straightness, normally prioritised, was being mocked at this queer(friendly) festival. In another context, it might have been more confrontational, but here it sort of evoked a superior feel of togetherness. Actually, that was a slightly uncomfortable moment for me, because it felt like ‘us against the other’. But in general One of a Kind was entertaining, but didn’t give me much in terms of provoking alternative imagery or critical thought on gender.