Posted by Thom Smyth, January 28th, 2015
Bryony Kimmings was the hands-down favourite at the inaugural Festival Of Live Art (FOLA) in Melbourne last year with two shows, Sex Idiot and Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, totally selling out and winning over hearts and minds across the city. Using theatre, performance and a healthy dose of humour to tackle serious social issues including sexual health, depression and the sexualisation of children, Kimmings is a force to be reckoned with, and is heading to Fringe World with a new show Fake It Til You Make It, and the return of Sex Idiot.
TS: Oh hi! I’m a bit of a fanboy and am super-excited we finally get to see your shows in Perth! Can you give us a brief rundown of each?
BK: Fake It til You Make It: It’s a new show. Made just this year and premiering in Perth (whoop!). It is a collaboration between myself and my lovely fiancé Tim, who up until 3 months ago worked in advertising. It’s a show about clinical depression, love, relationships and the idea of “being a man”. Its funny but also very sad and it follows our journey through the past few years. It will connect with a LOT of people, yet mental illness remains a taboo!
Sex Idiot: So this is a vintage show of mine, created all the way back in 2010, from a very different era of my life. It’s a show full of songs, poems, dancing and larking about with the audience and follows the story of when I found out I had an STI/STD and had never had a sexual health text before… the show is the story of the journey I took trying to find out who gave it to me!
TS: How do you describe the work that you make?
BK: I generally get very angry about something that I find unjust, sad or just plain dumb about the world and my gut reaction is always “we must DO something about this fellow humans!” My main skill is theatre and art… so that doesn’t always naturally lend itself to changing the minds of everyone, or creating a viral movement as its naturally quite niche. So I generally do a very live social experiment, set out to change something big, often through the press or harnessing people power and then make a show about it.
TS: Your shows deal with pervasive social stigmas and the various effects they have on the individual and broader society. How do you go about tackling such thorny issues?
BK: I just try my best to be honest and knowledgeable. I go through a process, I get mad, I get smart, I get honest. People cannot mock you or call you out for being a fake if you are generally moved by the need to do something and you are trying your best to do it. Also I make it palatable. I will make sure we have a lot of fun first. Like fall in love with each other as a performer and audience member and then BAM! Smash you in the gut with the hard stuff. Not to make you feel bad but just to make you WANT to do something about it to. Its recruitment in a flamboyant and fun way! Ha!
TS: What is the general reaction to your shows? Do you ever feel the need to mitigate the risk involved, or do you just go for it and let the audience have it?
BK: I just always go for it. There has been a few occasions in my life where the material and the concept for the show was just NOT a good match for the audience. This is usually less my fault and more the fault of the people who book me. I have performed Sex Idiot in front of a very religious group in Zagreb, Croatia. There is a bit in the show when they are asked to donate pubic hair… that did NOT go down well. I always let them have it though, that’s my job. I am a professional, I am happy to have a row about what it was people didn’t like after but for me the job I am doing is soothsayer… jester. I must say what I feel because there are so many destructive crazy weirdos doing harm to the world and without the antidote we are all screwed.
TS: This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with a loved one – both Fake It… and Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model feature some nearest and dearest. Is working with someone you know so well a help or hindrance in the rehearsal room? Are there no-go zones or topics when working?
BK: It’s just lovely to work with people you love. I had no plans to work with a non-performer again straight away but the Taylor project was so good, Tim’s story was so strong and I desperately wanted to tell it so it happened again. Next I am making a musical and then a project with 10 young men just out of prison who will again be totally different to work with. I pick the form that suits the subject with the cast that makes most sense. If I am going to make a show that talks about how crazy it is that we don’t allow our men and boys to talk about depression, then in that show there has to be an example of what that conversation could look like if we stopped silencing mental illness and started to celebrate it. He had to be in there. It’s a labour of love and a joy!
Fake It Til You Make It | Presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Theatre Works in association with PICA
Mandurah Performing Arts Centre | 30 – 31 Jan
PICA Performing Space | 3 – 7 Feb
Sex Idiot | Presented by Theatre Works
Circus Theatre | 29 Jan – 1 Feb