YOU: Hey Nick, I hear you’re been cast in Chenoeh Miller‘s new show?
ME: Yeah, I mean (sigh) I always just say yes to Cheneoh’s shows sight unseen, ’cause it’s just always a great out-of-the-comfort-zone time. But I think I fucked up with this one. Apparently it’s about Men and Masculinity and How To Be A Good Man and it wants to provide a voice for Good Men and oh fuck what a boring awful idea and I don’t wanna doooo it!
(3 months later)
YOU: So how did the development week go on Superior Man?
ME: I mean, selfishly I had a great time. The cast is 100% people I’ve wanted to work with on a bigger project. We all gelled big time. Like with all Chenoeh’s stuff I was pushed way out on a limb in a way that I really value and enjoy. The usual focus on physical ordeal, duration, repetition and person-to-person intimacy. And look even though I’m still in my wanky space of not feeling like category:man is the right way to explain anything about my personal experiences I realise now that I am perceived as a man by others and that that creates phenomena that’s worth talking about. But I still worry that we’re gonna fall into obvious traps of gender essentialism and false equivalency and just plain being boring and pointless.
(Two months later)
YOU: So how’s rehearsal week going?
ME: I mean, Chen has done so much patient work in addressing our concerns and I realise now that it’s first and foremost a Chenoeh Show. You know, non-literal and imagery-based, and fundamentally from her creative point of view. Hopefully not non-literal in a cop-out say-nothing way, but I feel like Chen’s always balanced that well in the past so I’m just being precious. There’s a lot of meta stuff in the show now, like our actual concerns and worries about how to do the show is in the text. If that’s a cop-out it’s one that’s gotten me over the line in terms of being comfortable with my involvement in the show. I definitely feel like I can invite people now. If they hate it or they’re bored by it then that’s okay, as long as they see that we get their concerns.
(One week later)
YOU: How did stuff go with the show? Sorry I didn’t make it, house-hunting stuff has been a nightmare! This is why people give up on renting!
ME: Oh no sweat, we had good turn-out. Yeah like it went well. Intense. It’s a Feelings-Heavy show. But the audiences were lovely. Lots of positive feedback, and the critiques and reviews all engaged with it really generously on it’s own terms. I mean at best we offered the obvious message that Ideas Of Manhood Are Both Damaging And Alluring. I doubt that was a huge revelation for many. But a lot of people seemed to key in to us specifically as individual performers, which at least alleviated my panic about whether we would be seen as trying to represent all men. Look we were a bunch of middle-class Canberrans performing for same so take everything I’m saying with a grain of salt. It was a very selfish show for me, it was really about getting to work with Chen and the cast.
Erica Fields’ unfailing rigour and intelligence.
Raoul Cramers’ honesty and skill.
Chris Endrey’s trust and versatility.
Oliver Levi Malouf’s sheer craft and sense of perspective.
And as always, Chenoeh Miller’s pure command of form.
Sorry, I broke my little literary conceit there.