A drag queen, taboos and sex will all be examined at CarriageWorks this autumn. The venue’s newest production Salome -“ In Cogito Volume III is set to reinvent a well-known biblical story.
The show looks at Salome’s part in the beheading of John the Baptist. The creators have taken the brief but complex narrative of the original story and translated it into images.
The basic story is about a king (Herod) and queen (Herodias), who capture John. This reinvention of the story investigates their treatment of John as a parallel to their treatment of their daughter Salome, director and co-creator Emma Valente told SSO.
Salome becomes obsessed with John, obsessed with his innocence and his ability to relate to a higher power. She is at once repulsed and attracted to him. This is the story of what drives Salome to the most horrific and unthinkable act of violence.
Oscar Wilde’s stage play was banned in England as blasphemous when it was first written and the original Bible story is about the taboo of incest.
This version of Salome looks at what is taboo in more modern times, Valente said.
It’s essentially about living outside the acceptable boundaries of society. It is about being other or being strange. Every character in the piece would perhaps be considered abnormal or taboo within the usual confines of socially acceptable.
I think that sections of the GLBT community still struggle with these questions as we try to progress towards a society that is based on equality. How can GLBT issues be made less taboo, issues such as same-sex parenting, being transgender, public displays of affection and representation in the wider community?
One of Melbourne’s most accomplished male actors plays the role of Herodias, Salome’s mother. Syd Brisbane has interpreted the character as a woman who is constantly hungry and trying to quench her thirst for sex, food and perversity.
She is exciting and at times she is vile. Syd investigates gender as malleable and fluid, Valente said.
There is little play acting or feminising of the character; rather he sits on the edge of gender construction between female and male.
Some may find this grotesque, or confronting, but I believe this adds to the complexity of the character.