Guest Blogger: Elise Hoggard
Devised and directed by Melissa herself, the Charlatan Clinic’s latest project “Whore” is a refreshing collection of six monologues, based on street sex workers in New Zealand. Tucked away at the end of Auckland’s notorious K-Road is Lifewise Merge café, which up until November 2010, was a soup kitchen. This is where the “Whore” journey begins. Offered a “do I look like a whore?” badge and paper cup of minestrone soup, I felt at home instantly- warmth, stability and respect radiating from the Lifewise staff; a true testament to their dedication to the “Whore” cause.
Seated on wooden pews, the audience is intimate, yet tis this intimacy that makes the “Whore” experience that much more impacting. Harrowing music plays as we take our seat- two half naked live performers roaming through the audience, offering their bodies in exchange for cash, creating an awkward yet apt foreshadowing of what is to follow.
Over the next hour we meet our six characters; rent boy, illegal migrant, refugee, married woman, underage street worker and transgender. Played by three actors with a simple change of furniture, the small space the cast inhabits is transformed accordingly. Over the course of the production there is a roller coaster of emotion, the actor’s honesty apparent through every sigh, twitch of the jaw and rattle in their voice. It was these subtleties that made the play what is was. “Whore” was believable as hell; I wasn’t sitting in a café watching theatre, I was sitting in on a support group at Lifewise. There was sorrow, there were nerves- even laughter, but more than anything, there was understanding.
“The only difference between you and I- is I have sex and get paid cold cash”; a powerful piece of prose from the ‘Married Worker’. Who are we to judge street workers on their vocation when we are marginalized everyday, just in different ways? This production is not here to expose unknown truths of prostitution. It is here to normalize and de-stigmatize what you might believe about sex work. This production is to challenge one to think more actively about what we see everyday on K-Road and how we as a society can create more opportunities for those struggling. It’s here to raise awareness on an issue, which is damaging and dangerous. It’s a cry for help and a scream for change.
Do you still think sex work is a choice?
Media Release: charlatan clinic
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
charlatan clinic’s confronting new work ‘Whore’ in collaboration with Printable Reality, begins 29 May performing at Lifewise Merge Cafe in Karangahape Road, Ponsonby.
‘Whore’ delves into the lives of six characters (‘Rent boy’, ‘Refugee’, ‘Illegal migrant’, ‘Married woman’, ‘Underage sex worker’ and ‘Transgender’) played by Lee Ah Yen Faatoia, Rebecca Parr and Geraldine Creff, who have written about their experience on the charlatan clinic blog.
Fergusson has met with Auckland sex workers and conducted interviews to gain insight and understanding, for the purpose of honest storytelling. She is fascinated why society think ‘Whore’ is a dirty word. Fergusson says “Sex work is heavily stigmatised and misunderstood in society. Hopefully my play brings truth, and challenges perception.”
Lifewise Merge Cafe will be converted into an intimate theatre space, seating up to 60 people per show. There will also be a photo gallery of the making of ‘Whore’, and audio interviews about sex work at the venue.
‘Whore’ is proudly supported and sponsored by Lifewise, Splice, Printable Reality, NZ Stage, The Makeup School, Paper Bag Princess, NZPC and Four Eyes Media.
Tickets $10 – Door Sales Only
‘Whore’ season runs 29 May – 1 June @8pm, Lifewise Merge Cafe, 453 Karangahape Road, Ponsonby.