Saturday, May 17, 2014

creating a/broad, May 17, 2014

Does My Work Translate?
by Cameryn Moore

It has taken me a little while to find my Fringe legs at the beginning of my tour, Fringe in the UK being nothing like Fringe in North America. Here in Brighton there are too many venues, too spread out. There are no queues to flyer, no publicly accessible beer gardens to troll, no late-night Fringe cabarets that everyone attends to wind down from the day and/or pick people up. This is not how Fringe happens over here, and I forgot that, or didn’t know it, didn’t know that possibly every other Fringe in the UK feels pretty much like Edinburgh, on a much smaller scale.

Excuse me, I need to get my tea.

Ahhhhhh. I forgot that I actually do all right with tea for my morning wake-up drink (two tea bags brewed long, one sugar, lots of milk). 

The laugh points are the same, to my relief

Hell, I forgot a whole host of things: half-and-half is non-existent (whole milk has to do, single cream just goes all clotty); people notice my accent over here, and like it; buses are frequent and on time; I will seriously die in front of a car if I don’t look both ways twice before jaywalking; the bacon here is delicious; audiences are much less raucous in their laughter during theatre, even if they are really enjoying it; cabs are expensive, but unfortunately necessary with all my shit.

I forgot a lot, but in the course of doing my first string of shows—a Weds-Sat run of Phone Whore, and now just finishing up a Weds-Sat run of slut (r)evolution—I remembered something important: my work does translate. For the people who seek me out, who find my shows in the impossibly crowded program and make it past the first filter of the titles of my shows, or who meet me out in the chilly shadows near the Fringe info booth where I have set up the Smut Stand (also translates), my work… well, it does work.

The laugh points are the same, to my relief, although as I mentioned earlier, they don’t laugh as much; I shall have to get better at hearing the slight shifting of body that matches the shifting of skin when a smile is really big and stops right on the edge of an outright laugh. (They do generally laugh at my BBC punch line, though, and the follow-up: “and it’s not the British Broadcasting Corporation.”)

Some specific references still work, like Burning Man in slut (r)evolution, like “African-American” in Phone Whore. Some references I’m equally unsure whether they do work, like what “top surgery” means (it’s the double mastectomy that some F-to-M trans men get). I’m not sure how important it is that non-insider audiences get that reference, but I make the same hand gesture to accompany the word, and hope for the best in the same way that I always have with Phone Whore everywhere.

Oh, and the tension is the same, the quivering vacuum of breath and the stillness of 30 or so hearts seizing up for the same split second after the infamous Call Four in Phone Whore, the deep intake of awe at the volume of the final orgasm in slut (r)evolution. These are moments in audience response that are still present, and that is important, because this level of response tells me that the audience has come along on the journey with me. I have not lost them, they are still there, in spite of every difficult or raw or gross or heart-rending moment I have thrown at them, they are still there, waiting and wanting for me to pull all of us through to the other side. That is a task I feel qualified to do; I rejoice in the necessity of it. I am there when the audience needs me, and turns out over here they need me in the same way.

Best of all, I am having the same grand, sprawling post-show conversations and heartfelt interactions with people: the swinger couple alight with excitement about the possibilities of joy and emotional relationship through casual sex; the politically charged college students who want to debate the nature of racially fetishizing fantasies vis à vis psychological constructs of gender roles; the soft-spoken guy with the incredibly long beard who took the train in from 10 miles out of town to see my show, and is eager to share with me a reading list of early to mid-20th century female writers who lived and worked openly as queers long before that was even a concept; the shy young woman who hugs me wordlessly after a show and lingers long at the bowl containing my buttons.

What a relief: the accents are different, but the connection is all the same.

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