It’s both a synonym for a continent and for vagina: Down Under. Coincidence or not? For taboo-breaking menstrual theatre, go to Australia. Three inspiring examples. On three completely different stages.
The dance stage: Liz Lea
A dance performance about menstruation? Yes, indeed. In her solo performance RED, Australian dancer and choreographer Liz Lea explores her journey and experiences with endometriosis. In other words: 20 years of dancing on international stages while neglecting her body’s needs and warnings. Eventually, this led to Lea needing a bowel reconstruction. A one-woman show created in collaboration with other artists, RED is about trial and error. Glamorous and theatrical with beautiful outfits and the right dose of humor and self-mockery. Just watch the trailer. (Picture: Lorna Sim. Outfit: Bruce Scott).
The swimming pool: The Clams
More ballet, but this time performed in the swimming pool: a place where nearly every woman has experienced menstrual issues at least once in her life. The water ballerinas are dressed in blood red swimming suits and use giant pool float tampons as props. Synchronised swimming performance Crimson Tide by The Clams started as a joke, but soon became a hit. Inspired by the menstrual cycle, this lighthearted show features a four part soundtrack, synced to the four stages of the monthly cycle. More period links: ‘clam’ is urban slang for ‘vagina’ whereas ‘crimson tide’ is a synonym for ‘menstruation’. See a video about their performance at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, including an interview with founder of The Clams Francis van Beek, here.
The theatre: Lucy Peach
Feminist singer-songwriter Lucy Peach is inspired by musical heroes such as Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks. And by something completely different: the menstrual cycle. Peach, who’s also a sexual health educator, learned to embrace her own period and has turned this into shows such as My Greatest Period Ever and How to bleed like an unicorn. The ‘period preacher’ educates girls and women to see their menstruation as a blessing: ‘Meet your Secret Weapon… your period. Learn to use its super-powers for good, bad – or, whatever you bleeding well like because it’s YOURS. Your period is not, I repeat, NOT a curse. Instead, you can turn it into your guide for life. Which is just as well, because you’re going to have 500 of them!’ Watch her TedEx talk here.