As part of Yirramboi Festival, which over ten days this May will celebrate First Nations arts and culture in a Melbourne-wide take over, queer Wiradjuri man Joel Bray will be presenting his latest work Considerable Sexual Licence. For fans of Bray’s distinct performance style this work promises not to disappointed.
“I can easily talk about the hard issues that my work explores, but my first contract with my audiences is to engage and entertain, the work is really fun, and people will have fun,” Bray tells Star Observer.
Delving a little deeper than the surface, he continues by saying of the work that, “the title comes from an article written in 1907 by a white anthropology professor about a ceremony my Wiradjuri ancestors performed. He noted in his very Victorian starched way, that considerable sexual licence was allowed. That sparked my curiosity, this little idea of sex and sexual practice was something I hadn’t heard about, and I think was lost in colonisation.
“The idea that sex and queerness and sexuality can connect with a community, kinship and our connection to country. As a queer person that totally makes sense because sex and sexuality is the way we connect with each other, the dance floor is a kind of ceremonial ground we gather upon,” Bray continued to explain. “This work starts off on the dance floor, which acts as a launching point before going into the harder stuff around the history of sexual violence and colonisation in Australia.”
According to Bray Considerable Sexual Licence rejects the white, Christian, ‘straight’ jacket of sexual politics in Australia, through a provocative blend of cabaret, comedy, and choreography that will tempt you to take part in this queering and radical re-examination of our close personal histories.
“Often what happens in the media and politics, as that we hear about stats and all those things, but what do they actually mean?
“The role and possibilities of art is to get audiences to experience the emotion that is attached to these things. I make my work and invite my Black Fella peers along, but the work is very much written and performed for white audiences. I want them to come and have a good time, but also create a space where they confront some of the ugly truths about colonisation in this country.”
A playful invitation to explore your own history and relationship to sex, sexuality and personal freedom, and a celebration of Country, community, consent and kinship, Considerable Sexual License is on at Northcote Town Hall until May 15.