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Silo Artistic Director Sophie Roberts directs a rehearsal for HIR

Mundane Hellscapes: The Subversion of Hir

Mundane Hellscapes: The Subversion of Hir

Silo Artistic Director Sophie Roberts directs a rehearsal for HIR.
Rima Te Wiata & Arlo Green giggle around the kitchen bench in rehearsals for HIR.
Silo Artistic Director Sophie Roberts directs a rehearsal for HIR

I’ve probably seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show more than any other film. Richard O’Brien’s 70s musical is considered by the wokest of young people to be pretty problematic nowadays, like LGBT+ cosplay for cis straight people. I have compassion for that view, but for older generations, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a gateway into worlds of gender-fuckery and non-normative expression that barely existed in popular culture when it came out. I think I first saw it in 1990 when I was six, although there’s every chance I watched it earlier than that. Rocky Horror gave tiny queer me sexually fluid characters before I knew that rigid sexuality was even a thing, and joyous gender-bending before I was fully aware of gender norms.

Rocky Horror was created by a nonbinary person who grew up in Hamilton. It was made at a time when gender play was a flirtatious part of alternative culture, but when trans and nonbinary people were still figures of fun or revulsion. Concealing serious identity politics with pantomime excesses is one of the ways that queer artists express their worldviews and experiences, filling their works with reflections of their environments, their upbringings, their inner turmoils and their outer extravagances.

What Rocky Horror did was promote minority voices and identities by slipping in through the side door of popular culture and becoming one of the well-loved musicals of all time. Taylor Mac’s Hir does the same thing. What starts off with a familiar premise of heterosexual mundanity and life in the suburban, nuclear hellscape of Everytown USA, becomes a rollercoaster ride through new identity discourses.

Taylor Mac (who uses lowercase "judy" not as a name but as a pronoun) is a performance artist and writer who is bringing judy's unique and subversive experiences and perspectives to the theatre. Mac’s A 24-Decade History Of Popular Music tells the story of the USA through its musical shifts and developments, performed by Mac as an ostentatiously attired drag queen. It’s 24 hours long. Mac isn’t pulling any punches, and judy’s doing it backwards in high heels...

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