Tina Evans @ Fringe Factory (151 Hindley Street)
7:45pm, Sat 7 Mar 2009
It’s listed as a fifteen minute dance piece. When the capacity crowd (all of thirty people) are finally let into the venue thirty-five minutes late, I’m concerned about missing my next show. When I take my seat in the front row, however, I discover the reason for the delay: a DVD projector, integral to the performance, cacked itself – requiring a new projector be brought in. This became apparent to me when, as I parked my arse in the front row, I wound up sitting next to a Fringe employee with the replacement projector sitting on her lap, her knees held at just the right position to effect the adequate projection onto the screen at the back of the stage… and constantly fan me with hot air.
Now, the Fringe Factory at 151 Hindley is… well, intimate. Thirty people squeezed into something not much larger than a bedroom, with a “stage” that’s maybe only 2 x 4 metres. And, as the screen displays some jarring images of childrens toys and sinister shadows (with a very ocker and only somewhat creepy voiceover), Tina Evans pops onto this tiny stage. Wrapped in Gladwrap with a bubble-wrap tutu, she poses as a music-box ballerina whilst audio of an auction is played… this is an auction for her.
Toys is completely focussed on one thing: the selling of children into the sex trade. The audio is unnerving, the video a collage of innocent and diabolical snippets, Evans’ movements perfunctory… up until she drops to the floor (well below the sightline of most of the audience), screaming and convulsing and clawing.
And then it hits you: you’re watching a child rape scene. Child Rape. By Men. Lots of Men.
And that’s pretty fucked up. The mind takes these images and runs with them, and it’s horrible. It sticks and gnaws and then dwells, forcing the brain to reconcile image and explained fact. And when Evans eventually struggles away from the scene, curls up into a ball, and starts singing of all her assailants to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, it’s a chilling moment, an eerie moment.
So it’s all very thought-provoking and meaningful and serious, and undoubtedly brings light to a horrible issue; but, having mulled on the issue during the performance, as I dashed to my next show my brain was constantly wondering how the fuck does this make money for the artist? It was only on for three performances; it only costs $5; and a capacity crowd is thirty. Let’s say a third of those people also buy the $2 program. Thus, Evans can only gross a maximum of $510 for the entire season; how is this going to keep an artist – a worthwhile artist with something to say – fed?