A NEW production appearing in Brisbane later in March hopes to turn assumptions and expectations of gender on its head, exploring norms and roles that are described as societal constructs.
Crossfade is the creative brainchild of Lismore and Melbourne artists AnA Wojak and Jessi Lewis, and the duo are looking to explore gender theories using a production dominated by costumes.
“Costume is the key to this whole production and it will be quite a visual feast, with a backdrop of iconic and at times pertinent excerpts from films, news, and pop culture to illustrate the back-story surrounding gender roles.
“For myself, and co-performer AnA Wojak, this show is a break away from our past works, both independently as solo artists and as collaborators, in that this one has quite a few light moments, which helps balance out the more serious questions we are posing in Crossfade.”
The idea of challenging gender is one that has existed for decades, and this production aims to delve into new areas of thought and challenge audiences.
“We are not just talking about crossing between genders but also dealing with the ‘rules’ associated with our respective genders: concepts of masculinity or femininity, power dressing or class structures along with queer paradigms representing different parts of the ‘gay world’ such as: leather men, twinks, bears, or others found within dyke culture, like butch and fem,” Lewis said.
“It also challenges gender within the context of establishment, we feel this is also another point of contention very much of the now, and that art can perhaps dismantle some of the arguments put forward by media, translating this into an engaging conversation.”
Lewis believes Crossfade will resonate with Brisbane audiences on various sensory levels to effectively deliver its messages and themes.
“The way in which we will develop this show, with only nine days of studio and development time, really helps give the whole production a very raw, honest element,” Lewis said.
“There is also no allowance for second guesses, we have to run with what we come up with and make it work. This kind of intense creative energy gives the performance a unique immediacy.
“Visually, this production aims to be quite sumptuous, it’s about drawing from many styles and eras in hopes of creating something new, but with an understanding of what has come before and how relevance can sometimes traverse time and space.
“The show’s name straddles this project as a kind of metaphor; originally it’s a production/editing term, which means to fade between two images… but with its allusion to cross-dressing we have re-invented it here to also address gender roles.”
Holding a light up to what many in society assume to be norms for men and women is also a topic that comes personally for Lewis.
“I would relate it to being a boy who was not always allowed to dress they way he wanted. It also touches upon the way in which we sometimes mask or reinvent our personal image, to blend in, stand out, and everything in between,” Lewis said.
“Also I relate strongly with the old adage of ‘boys don’t cry’ — my father was a country man, who worked in abattoirs and affection in our family was not something easily dealt with, so from an early age I had these kinds of constraints place a heavy emphasis on my life.”
The notion of what makes gender what it is and the trappings many believe society has attached to it is an area often traversed by the trans* community and Lewis hopes that they, along with everyone else, can use Crossfade to learn something about themselves.
“We hadn’t set out to create this performance with that in mind, but it is probably inevitable that it will connect with the trans* community, if not for the representations this performance perhaps offers, but they way in which we believe that we should all stand in unity and solidarity,” Lewis said.
“We believe everyone can be beautiful in their own unique way, and as much as this performance has some serious undertones, it aims to be a celebration of all genders and sexualities within and outside of social construct.”
Crossfade is playing at the New Globe Theatre in Fortitude Valley on March 26. Details and tickets: www.thenewglobetheatre.com.au