WILD-HER-NESS! Sexual ventilation

Welcome back Perth born, Melbourne bred Poppy Sloan at FRINGE WORLD for her psycho-drama comedy show WILD-HER-NESS! Billed “poetic education (and) sexual ventilation” MICHELLE PHAN spoke to Poppy about the upcoming show, her own Frankenstein, and her interpretation of growing up and what it’s like becoming a woman, hitting on some tough feminist issues in the process. Catch her at Four5Nine Bar, Rosemount Hotel on January 22 & 24, 29 & 31.

50 percent of profits for the final show 31 January will go to headspace.

Can you explain to us how WILD-HER-NESS! came together, and was the concept drawn closely from your personal experience with life?

The show is my own Frankenstein on what being a young woman means to me. It is a stitchwork of my oldest and newest works – parts of essays, poems, and spoken word fragments – sewn together with comedy, melodrama, and dance. They relate to themes around living in a female body with one foot in the ‘modern’ world of dating, love, trauma, contraception, and the other in this surreal and fluid place. Exploring how as individuals and a collective we cope, thrive, grow and regenerate through our adolescence.

How about the title, WILD-HER-NESS

Originally, the show was going to be called Not Yet a Woman but it felt very dark, the show is too colourful and fruity for that. Then I got Like a Virgin by Madonna Stuck in my head at a rehearsal, that line, “I made it through the wilderness…”, so WILD-HER-NESS stuck!

What kind of people will be interested in coming to see your show?

Anyone who has a body, an open mind, and isn’t afraid of not having all the answers to life’s questions or vaginas.

Feminism, sexuality and gender talks are becoming common in performing arts and in music. Have works of other fellow artists and society’s influence shifted your views on your work in any way?

Yes, we are finally in an age where these conversations have been ‘let in’ to more mainstream spaces. There are performance artists like Marina Abramović who have challenged me in the best ways, but also many incredible writers like Naomi Wolfe, Ursula K. Le Guin and Sylvia Plath. Not to mention musicians like Julia Jacklin, Mojo Juju and Stella Donnelly who are writing super brave music and tackling feminist issues in really accessible ways.

Some people may find your work confronting and awkward, what’s the main message you want the audience to take away? 

There are times in any person’s life that are intrinsically confronting and awkward in nature, but perspective is everything. Shifting your own (perspective) or trying to understand someone else’s, or realising it wasn’t ‘just you’ can be uncomfortable, but in practicing this act we become more courageous, intelligent and connected people.

Have you always been a theatre kid? How did you get into performing and spoken word?

I dabbled in performing arts all through high school, but was more into English and lit. I used to write lots of poetry and short story stuff as a kid and I’d write my own plays, where I would play a bunch of different characters at once. So really, not a lot has changed, I’m still just dancing around in my knickers telling stories! In moving to Melbourne and finding spoken word events, a huge performance community and doing readings of my published work I started performing more regularly and continuing to develop my craft.

Your work focuses on sexuality, gender, and romanticism. What made you passionate about the things you stand for and represent?

Outside of Gender and Sexuality studies, my excitement for these ideas first surfaced from having a bunch of strong, sex-positive women around me from a young age, but I knew that I was fortunate. The older I got the more I felt a sort of social responsibility toward working in these areas both creatively and professionally.

As you mentioned, you are a Gender and Sexuality student in Melbourne – can you tell us more about your work in consent education? 

Back in Melbourne, I volunteer in high school consent education – basically, we go into high schools all over Victoria and run workshops on understanding sexual consent – socially, legally and politically. I love it because when kids realise that consent is a broad concept which you can actually use pretty casual language to check in on and ask for, it really demystifies it for them. If this generation of kids deeply understand what consent is, how to give it and take it away, and respect boundaries, we will see a massive drop in sexual assault stats of this generation as they become adults.

Your last words here?

“Be the person you needed when you were younger” – not my original words, but good ones to live by.