Coming into 12 has been one of the most intense and creatively liberating periods of rehearsal I have experienced. As a part cabaret show with a running theme of drag, raising questions about gender identity, I have found myself in an environment which I have not previously visited. However, the openness of the cast and creative team to experimenting with new ideas, giving bold offerings, and encouraging others to make good work has brought me surprising comfort and love for what we are doing already.
Of particular challenge to me has been the musical aspects of 12. I am not a singer, and for years my lack of singing has confirmed this statement to be true. However, this hasn’t deterred Tom Noyes and Aron Sood from making me and the rest of the cast sing. It would now seem that I am a singer, the cast have found beautiful harmonies and offered new interpretations of well-known songs. The first song I came to has been my favourite: ‘I Kissed a Girl’ by Katy Perry. The musical theme of this song was Jazz, and we were made to scat, harmonies and layer the melody of the song with ‘do-waps!’ and ‘wahs!’. I had an interesting time attempting to scat around the word ‘moose’. However after some practice I was able to work out some moose based riffs, now I wonder why jazz musicians have not based their work on North American herbivores earlier.
Coming to drag has been an interesting experience too. I am very impressed with the sensitivity in which the topic has been introduced: we began drag with a very informative and inspiring conversation with Alex Beard, a drag king. Alex was able to offer a lot of useful information about the field of drag, ranging from tips with make-up and binders, to the more abstract concept of ‘discovering’ your own drag persona. The premise which struck me most forcibly was that drag awakens repressed aspects of your own personality, and operates as a permissive forum to exercise these traits.
There is still much further for me to go, but I am excited as to the progress so far made. I will leave this post with praise of my cast members and the creative team. Never have I seen such discipline and creativity from so early on within a production. To the cast members I knew before the production began, I am grateful for your openness to share more of yourself with me; and to those who I have just met, I am struck by how quickly we have formed such a close friendship. This will be a wonderful show, and it is due to the wonderful ensemble which has emerged.
By Joe Bonfield