Not Much To Tell You 0 Comments

Not Much To Tell You

Brisbane-dwelling poet and performer KAITLYN PLYLEY returns to her Perth roots to premiere her one-woman show at Fringe World. We asked Kaitlyn a thing or to about writing and performance.


VOICEWORKS: Not Much To Tell You has its festival premiere at Fringe World in Perth. How does it feel to be going home to showcase what you’ve been working on?

KAITLYN PLYLEY: It feels pretty awesome. I grew up going to plays at The Blue Room Theatre so I’m pretty thrilled to be presenting my first Fringe show there.

VW: Your show received wonderful feedback from Brisbane test audiences in 2013. Did it feel different performing Not Much To Tell You compared to a regular poetry gig?

KP: Yes, very different. Not Much To Tell You runs for one hour – the longest work I’ve done. I prefer the longer format for teasing out complex ideas. It’s a pleasure to get comfortable with an audience, settle in and build rapport. Regular poetry gigs are usually five to 10 minutes, or shorter for poetry slams. Those short gigs are great for learning how to grab an audience’s attention and communicate your ideas as concisely as possible. But I do enjoy having a captive audience for the full hour.

VW: Your show blends spoken word poetry with one-woman theatre. There’s minimal stage and sound design, so the focus is drawn to your words. How did you go about blending these two forms? And what separates them, in your opinion?

KP: I would call the show a blend of performance poetry and storytelling. The storytelling style I perform is autobiographical and conversational, while the poetry is more conceptual and precisely structured. I introduced a conversational tone into my poetry when I started doing poetry readings years ago, because it helped me relax into the performance. I prefer to talk to the audience, not just at them. So it felt pretty natural to blend my two favourite forms of spoken word for this show.

VW: At Voiceworks, many of our young writers explore the links between personal expression and artistic expression in poetry. Your show is very personal non-fiction, but also engages a wider audience. How do you negotiate that balance in your writing? What advice would you give to emerging poets writing about their personal lives?

Well, my writing is pretty heavily influenced by observational stand-up comedy, and the academic lecture as performance. Both of these influences help me with writing personal stuff for an audience. For instance, stand-up comedians are adept at crafting themselves as personas. I suppose I craft myself as a persona for each performance I do. That doesn’t mean I invent a character or anything; I just refine the bits of me that I’m comfortable sharing with the public. I only tell the stories I’m ready to tell. That’s probably a good bit of advice: don’t publish or perform your personal life until you’re ready for strangers to come up to you afterwards and ask “Did you ever see that ex-boyfriend again?”

One of my hobbies is watching academic lectures on all sorts of topics. The academic lecture as performance has found popularity through channels like TED, or the RSA in England. Really good lecturers are able to personalise data and research, giving the audience a way to relate to the information. I just inverted this process when I was writing Not Much To Tell You, and found stories from my own life that represented broader trends in society.

VW: As someone working with a variety of writing and creative networks, do you see any issues related to writing/editing/performance that are ripe for discussion?

KP: It’s a totally obvious answer and I know this issue has been thoroughly discussed in many forums, but the proliferation of the Lizard People amongst the creative community is a direct threat to our culture. It’s not just their lust for human blood; the People fundamentally misunderstand the paradigm-shifting significance of the postmodernist movement. It’s causing quite a rift among Australian writers/humans.

VW: Will you be running any workshops while in Perth?

KP: No, but I will be doing a little sideshow performance at the Barefaced Stores: Gala Edition.

VW: If you’ve not got much to tell us about your show, what would be the one key thing you’d definitely want to share with potential viewers?

I make some jokes! And get a bit nostalgic about 80s cartoons. But I also deal with some pretty serious issues, so there’s something for everyone.


Catch NOT MUCH TO TELL YOU at the Blue Room Theatre for FRINGE WORLD from 4 to 8 Feb.

Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based poet and arts journalist. She serves as Cordite’s assistant editor as well as a poetry editor with Voiceworks.

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