Aly Loren is a queer-non-binary-femme-tomboy-dreamboat who likes her whiskey neat, her face glittered, and her kebabs after 3am. In Share My Blankets she shares with you her most intimate truths. Beneath Aly Lorén’s blankets there are stories of human fluidity and validity which are ready to be un-covered. Through the power of spoken word and, supported by a live electro/acoustic two-piece band. This work’s earnest ambition is to deliver its audience back into the ‘real-world’ with a sense of self-permission. Share My Blankets is being presented at No Vacancy Gallery, and will be one of the first events presented by this venue for Melbourne Fringe. During the first week of it’s season audience will also be able to check out the exhibition Strength in Visions with these two works presented side by a strong voice amid uncertain times where queer lives are under increased scrutiny and attack does emerge. Aly took time out of rehearsals to speak with TAGG about the performance.
Introduce us first to the concept that is behind your performance, and secondly lets talk about the creative process
Share My Blankets is one big story. What we are trying to do is to give gifts to our audiences. The gift of sharing. The gift of permission. The gift of safety. The gift of surrender. The gift of validation and belonging. Through music, poetry and stories, both tangible and intangible, we want myself and this body to be completely exposed, telling my own truths right there before everyone (hi mum and dad) (and aunty) to give permission to others to populate space in their own story telling. Last night a friend said to me “what a perfect name for your show. Because you are like a big blanket, you wrap people up.” And then because I’d had a few prosecco I started crying. If I can show people that there are others who experience things that are difficult to talk about just like them, I’d like to let them know they aren’t alone. And there is always someone who will believe them and listen to them.
So originally I was discussing an idea for a 10-15 minute performance art piece that I was gonna perform for my friends in a backyard show at my good pal Leon’s house. Us queers love our backyard performances, honestly so much talent and sexiness and rawness. I had found three songs written and recorded by my 18 and 19 year old self – I was at uni studying music and sound production and was practicing with these songs and I thought the lyrics were just place holders but upon listening back I couldn’t help but feel like they were supressed feelings about two quite heartbreaking experiences that occurred during that time. One was a sexual assault, and one was falling in love with my best friend, my first gay love, and her saying it couldn’t happen because of our relationship. I wanted to explore the relationship of the lyrics to both of these occurrences, as well as share some private Tumblr posts I had made about my lost love and explore how feelings and responses may change or remain if the context was changed.
I told some theatre friends about it and they told me to turn it into a full-length show. Bloody lucky I work at a theatre, hey! My very good pal Dirk Hoult of Tilted Projects came on board to direct, and from there it was just off. Dirk and I would meet once a week every week and he would just ask me about my experiences. We’d record them, most of which became the script, and we’d just have beers or coffee and talk for hours and hours. He has a way of helping me see my story telling in a creative way, and since working with him I’ve been writing more and more often than ever. He has the physical and conceptual visions, I have the words, stories and enchanting curls (and extensive glitter collection). I think the fact that he is so keen on learning about my experiences and truths and the way I live and people I know live in society has been such a huge encouragement because I know that even if I can get a message to just one person then I’m doin’ something right.
What do you think about the importance of strong, queer voices entering public conversation particularly now when the battle for marriage equality is recalling heating up?
Look to be honest I never want to get married. Marriage itself is an old, traditional mess. I hate that corporations use it as something to capitalise off. I hate that some cisgender heterosexual people think this is the ~final boss battle~ for LGBTIQA+ equality. They will all fall asleep to every other LGBTIQA+ issue that are paramount to institutionalised queerphobia and also racism. I hate that some people think that assimilation of LGBTIQA+ people into straight society is the only answer, and also assimilation of PoC into white institutions of marriage. I hate that it is taking away attention from all the really fucked up shit that our government is doing right now, like with refugees and asylum seekers. Some people, namely Indigenous people who live remotely, won’t even receive a ballot paper. But as we know, by law it contains some important clauses that allow couples legal rights for some important stuff. And I’m so for those who wanna marry their partners and it isn’t legal yet, you go for it babes when it’s time. Let me direct you quickly to a Facebook status I made a few weeks ago to sum up my feelings about it in a not at all sarcastic way:
“im so excited about our government spending $122 million on a non-binding voluntary postal vote on whether tHe gAys are human enough to participate in a super old legal tradition that for no reason other than homophobia, bible bashing and political football is it not already legal instead of making these inevitable amendments to the act in parliament like they are paid by the public to do, thus giving permission to homophobes to spend real money on letting everyone know how much they hate us and none of this will be damaging or a waste of time or ridiculous in the slightest. ps register to vote if you haven’t”
Okay I’ll get to the point of the question. The fact of the matter is not all queer people are able to speak up at the moment. It’s not safe for everyone, not at all. It’s still dangerous to be queer, some more than others. But even the very existence of queers is a radical act. We are a VISION. It’s important to not let the crusty homophobes win. There are queer youth out there being batted down by homophobes who are getting a free platform to spew their hate and make people feel less than human because “DEmOcrAcY!!” I am so privileged that I’m generally quite safe in being able to debate this, I’m white, able-bodied, in a harassment free workplace, from an accepting immediate family. I do not want people to forget that this is by no means the last battle for the community, not even a little bit close. Think indigenous deaths in custody, trans suicide rates, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, police brutality, racism, harassment and assault, mental illness, poverty, and the list goes on.
I want to speak out everywhere and be angry and loud and I’m going to be absolutely unapologetic about it. It is because of other loud mouth queers, both in history and at present, that I’m able to do that. We inspire each other and lift each other up and show the straights that we aren’t goin’ down. Stay angry, my mates.
Your original from Brisbane, has your childhood spent in this city help shape your identity, and what are some the comparison between these two places, particularly in terms of the cultural landscapes and the work indicative of the two?
I think that I learned a lot in Brisbane. I lived an extremely privileged childhood and early adulthood, I was very sheltered from a lot. I met some wonderful people whom I still hold very dearly and for some reason still want to know me and be friends with me, and they taught me a lot about believing that I’m not just a huge sack of shit. I’ve struggled with self-loathing my entire life and have been quite depressed so it was very cool to get so much of that special luuuurve. I learned stuff about music, I started writing, I fell in love, I went out all the time and nostalgia is telling me it was a pretty good time. It was a bit lonely at times, it was tumultuous, I had some pretty traumatic experiences as one does, and I didn’t feel comfortable to come out properly until maybe second year uni, but of course I won’t give much away – I’ll tell you all about it at the show. All of the stories take place in Brisbane and I think that by doing this I’m processing a lot of it.
I sort of left my little Brizzo life and have taken what worked for me. I again work Front of House at a theatre, though the quality of theatre here is unbelievably different of course. I’m really lucky to be learning from so many people here, namely in terms of activism and learning truths about the world. People who are in marginalised groups go through hell all the time but are still (and sometimes really have to be) generous with their time and emotional labour and I thank every single one of them for things I’ve learned and can pass on. I could crap on about the theatre scene or the ~culture~ in Melbourne (still something I like doing) but the main thing is really that all my pals here are so glorious and gorgeous and creative and wonderful in all their own ways. I wouldn’t be doing any of this without them. Their courage and honesty and generosity and care are absolutely unbelievable. If there’s a question on here about my influences I’ll just give you the name lists from some Facebook groups I’m in.
Is there a message behind your performance and in extension, how powerful a device do you find performance to be?
I think I’ve touched on that a bit already and probably will in further Q’s too. I just wanna share with you and let you know you belong and you are valid and you are so cared about. You deserve to have space to talk about feelings and ask for help and tell people you’re not having a great one. Also, you’re gonna make misjudgements and mistakes because you’re a human and that’s what we do, admitting your mistakes is really beautiful and moving on and learning is AWESOME. Hopefully that by confiding in you all, this comes across. You’re giving me the gift of your wonderful time, patience and attention, and I want to give you something for that.
Nothing quite shakes my very core quite like performance. I want someone to see exactly me in this. I want all the cool arty layers of performance to enhance the words themselves and show people that words, thoughts and experiences are not one-dimensional. I’m lucky enough to see performances really often and each time is life altering, even if only a tiny bit. Even if someone is just singing a song to me. Even if someone just gets up in front of me while we’re sitting by a river and performs a poem for me. How people can teach you when you aren’t even realising it and while being entertained is honestly unreal and I’m so lucky to be a person who is doing that.
Should art be political?
Art has no choice but to be political. Art is social politics, by definition. Art changes worlds, inspires movements and revolutions. It teaches about ideas, concepts, language, brings forth characters that can never be 100% non-fictional. Art that is purposefully political in nature not only inspires others to form beliefs and see them represented on a public platform, but also teaches others about, quite simply, people in a different way than simple conversation (also affective). If someone challenges or asks questions of reality or truth, it is political. I am so inspired everyday by the art that I see being created by beautiful babes around me, seeing someone else’s reality and truth through the lens of art of any form is absolutely prodigious. The very act of creating art against the grain is radical.
Whats your back in creating work, and what will Audience experience in this performance. and how does your performance stand out from the rest of the pack this Melbourne Fringe?
I’ve reeeeally never created a theatre show before. Truthfully. But I’ve played music for ages, mostly by myself, sometimes in bands or with one other person (love you Wheat). I felt like I was ready for something new. Whenever I’m playing I can’t help the stage banter and I just bloody love performing, more than anything, I wanted to do something weird and cool with heaps of layers to it but that also had my music in it and other forms of my art. I found someone who really believes in that and wants to help me show it to you all. You’ll experience tangible and intangible ways of feeling. It’s so much better if you’re just actually there with me and I can show you.
Look you know what it might not stand out. I’m not even sure that I deserve this platform. There are so many tales that need to be heard and have yet to be told because other creative wonderfuls aren’t as lucky to have the opportunities that I have right now, even if that is a modest show in Melbourne Fringe.
The thing is, there is SO MUCH straight cisgender media and performance and art out there. Literally so much to choose from. So if you would like to, I’d like 50 minutes of your time to be on stage before you. A genderfucked queer weirdo with a big mushy heart.
I’m gonna tell some romantic stories, I’m gonna tell some stories of heartbreak, of sexual assault, but I’m not going to stand up there as victim. A friend of mine recently said that queerness is rooted in sadness. It comes from a history of grief and loss and utter sadness. And yeah, there’s that in my show. But there is also vulnerability, and there’s strength, and there’s charm, and there’s having sex with your friends, and there’s fuckin’ laughing, and there’s rrrrromance! And maybe even a goon sack, but that’s a dramaturgical choice that we have yet to decide on. We can have all that too. I just wanna share with you and let you know you belong and you are valid and you are so cared about. Also, if you come the first weekend my parents are coming and boy are they gonna get a shock to their core, so like, that’d be fun to watch.
Share My Blankets opens on the 13th of September as part of Melbourne Fringe, for more info or to book your tickets click here.