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sydney fringe festival : demo : an interview with melody rachel

Performer Melody Rachel

Melody Rachel is presenting her solo show DEMO as part of this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival. Rachel’s show is playing the Living Room at Erskineville Town Hall from 19th until 23rd of September 2023.

Sydney Arts Guide sent her through some questions.

Q. When did your passion for theatre start?

A. My passion for theatre started when I was 19 years old, but I only started making solo work when I was 25. I’m now 30 years old and DEMO is my 5th solo work.

Q. Has all your work in theatre been as a solo artist? What attracts you to this form of theatre? Was it hard to hard to stand up in front of an audience for the first time as a solo artist?

A. I’ve been in a few ensemble pieces and worked in groups before but I prefer going solo. One of the reasons for this is I love connecting with the audience, I quite often make work that revolves around audience interaction – whether that means passing them a ball or giving them a wave. I also like working solo since I create art based on my own experiences and thoughts about the world. This helps me connect with the audience, making me the best person to share my own story.

Q. What other themes have you explored in your previous shows? 

A. A lot of my theatre centres around the theme of identity. In my previous works, I have explored the intersection between faith and sexuality. I’ve also delved into my struggles with identity as a woman due to not fitting feminine stereotypes. And, I’ve examined my experiences with anxious, irrational thought patterns that often spin me out of control.

Q. Titles to shows are, of course important. So the show is like putting down a demo? That you are trying things out on an audience? Seeing what works. Is that right? 

 A. It is! I was either going to call it “Demonstration” or “Demolition” so I just went with “Demo” so it includes both.

Q. Melody, you appear to be very much your own person. You have own your views which don’t fit in, in conventional ways. Has that made life harder for you? Harder but more interesting? 

A. Totally! That’s why I’m making a show about it. It’s tough when you feel like you don’t belong because the need to fit in is something all human beings deeply crave. I would definitely say I have an interesting life, it can be hard at times, but at least it’s not boring!

Q. What place does Christianity or for that matter religion have in 2023?

A. I think Christianity needs to be revived. In today’s society, politics is the new religion, and it just causes such a divide, especially in places like the arts and online. If we restore Christianity, and I mean true Christianity – not that old man religion where one says “you can’t do this, you can’t do that” “repent of your sins” blah blah – I mean the kind that says; love your neighbour as you love yourself, lay your life down for those around you, treat others the way you want to be treated. These values unite us, its these uniting values that would make our society a better place to live in.

Q. Is the woke movement here too restrictive in its attitudes?

A. Definitely. Woke has become a religion, and there just seems to be no room to disagree or dissent on any of their ideological orthodoxy without being labelled a bigot or being cancelled. It’s like “We are inclusive, but if you don’t agree with our creed, you will be excluded”. They verbally say one thing, but do another, similar to the religious Pharisees that Jesus railed against in the bible.

Q. What do you see as your role as a performer and as an artist?

A. As an artist, I am keen to use theatre as a platform to discuss ideas and challenge orthodoxy like; Does modern-day feminism actually uplift women, or does it just denigrate men? Is the use of preferred pronouns a celebration of gender diversity or is it more about power and control? By trying to get away from boxes and labels are we just creating more boxes and labels? Do land acknowledgements actually help Aboriginal people? And am I even allowed to question this as a “white person”?

 

The ticket link to Melody’s show: https://sydneyfringe.com/events/demo/

 

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