By Rachel Perks
I am writing this as I prepare to go into the last rehearsal for ANGRY SEXX, but by the time you read it the show will have opened. I hope it went well and that I didn’t run into anything, or get caught up in the curtains, or forget my lines that I wrote myself. I hope people laugh. I know that people will misunderstand it, possibly hate it and maybe even hate me. But that’s okay – that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When I was 20 I decided to move to Europe on my own, and spent a month in Turkey. Every day I would get dressed, in jeans, a jumper and a big jacket and leave the house to explore, and every day I would get chased down the street by men yelling obscenities at me. It made me angry and I remember writing an email to a friend with the line ‘I think I’m too much of a feminist for this place.’ It was the first time I had used the word in relation to myself – such a scary word, such a conflicted and dangerous word.
I cut my time in Turkey short because I couldn’t leave my hostel for fear of the aggressive slurs.
Eventually, when I came back to Australia, the rose-coloured glasses were gone. We had this shit too. It was more contained here – harder to see sometimes but it was there, just as entrenched. Gender equality was a lie all along.
I started writing ANGRY SEXX one day after returning home from a particularly awful afternoon where I was verbally assaulted by not one, but two groups of men on the street. Well, one group was actually in a bakery. It started as a diary entry – I had to have some place to put my rage.
I asked Mark Wilson, (Richard II, Unsex Me) to work with me as dramaturg pretty early on, partly because I wanted him to be my friend, and because I knew I needed someone who knew what they were doing if this thing was going to take life. Mark was very generous and supportive with my messy, over stated first draft. He encouraged me to ask Bridget Balodis (Kids Killing Kids, Shotgun Wedding) to direct, and to my amazement she accepted with very little question. From there I gathered a creative team of amazingly talented, political, ambitious women – people kept saying yes to me. They were really into talking about this stuff; in fact ANGRY SEXX has been the catalyst for some of the best conversations I have ever had.
The process of developing the script was an exercise in forced perspective. These brilliant people kept challenging what I’d written and I would respond – my mind and ideas expanding rapidly to their words, enabling me to make amendments.
After the first full read of the play, Emma Hall, assistant director and vocal performer, raised some pertinent objections from the perspective of a slightly more experienced feminist. Among other things, she spoke about the ideas in the play not being new. It was useful point to acknowledge.
I’m not doing anything new. I’m not saying anything a thousand people haven’t said before. I’m raising the same old tarnished mirror, but I’ve realised that just because someone has said it before, doesn’t mean I don’t have to say it again. The world didn’t transform the first time, or the second, or the thousandth, and so we have to keep saying it again and again and again, like a mad woman, because what other option do we have?
In this case I think it is enough that I am saying it my way; with sci-fi, comedy, monkeys and fat beats.
A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.