Cast of The Show That SmellsA little bit punk and a little bit silly: it’s sex, death and rainbows aesthetic.

NIDA Directors’ and Designers’ Productions 2017 is a collection of short productions presented by NIDA’s Master of Fine Arts (Directing) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students running concurrently at NIDA Theatres, Kensington.

A satanic gay wedding is the culminating scene of The Show That Smells, part of NIDA Directors’ and Designers’ Productions 2017.

“I want to create candy-coloured queer horror comedies and weirdo love stories. My work is a little bit punk and a little bit silly: it’s sex, death and rainbows aesthetic,” says Director Rachel Kerry

Rachel is an award-winning director, writer and video editor from New York City, whose work emphasises queer narratives, surrealist humour and pop culture.

She’s working with set designer Kyle Jonsson to create the NIDA show, an adaptation of a novella by Canadian writer Derek McCormack. McCormack’s work is characterised by extreme brevity and humorous, often distinctly queer, forms of sexual darkness. ‘The Show That Smells is a post-modern parody of an imaginary 1930s horror film with a queer lens.

Think gay historical fan fiction with famous icons, big and weird. Vampires fighting hillbillies, that sort of thing,’ said Rachel.

Rachel graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, was managing editor of New York Theatre Review and Artistic Director of Brain Melt Consortium before she came to NIDA.

Still from 'The show that smells' (NIDA)

Still from ‘The show that smells’ (NIDA)

“During my first week at NIDA, a woman was talking about her lesbian partner and how they couldn’t marry and I was really shocked. I turned to my classmate and mouthed “is gay marriage not legal in Australia?” He looked at me he mouthed “Nooooo”. I had no idea. I had always thought of Sydney as this amazingly progressive LGTBQI hub, especially since its Mardi Gras celebrations are rated second best in the world after San Francisco’s. That planted a seed in the back of my head.”

The climax of the production is a satanic gay wedding.

Given that it is being performed just after the successful same-sex marriage vote, it’s interesting that Rachel says the connection wasn’t planned. “As my interest grew in this piece, the gay marriage survey was growing pace at the same time. Now it seems our show will be a celebration! As well, underneath that, there is a deep conscious subtext about the queer experience. One of the monologues in the piece is “all monsters are queer” – it connects two states of mind: the outside homophobia and the inner shame.’

Kyle Jonsson is a third-year student in the NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) course, creating sets, props and over 20 costumes for The Show That Smells and its cast of 13 actors including dancers.

‘This production is an amazingly entertaining and super theatrical show which I am excited to explore through design, expressing queerness via a camp 1930s horror parody. The show takes on an aspect of homophobia – that people see us as freaks – and runs with it,’ said Kyle.

Still from 'The show that smells' (NIDA)

The show that smells (NIDA)

Kyle comes from the small town of Ravenshoe, 150 km from Cairns, in Far North Queensland. The boy from the bush grew up on his family potato farm with no experience of or exposure to theatre until he went to boarding school in Townsville. ‘Before coming here to NIDA I would have been so fearful to tackle this issue. It’s the antithesis of where I have come from,’ he said.

The opportunity to leave the sticks behind came when he was awarded a scholarship to study Architecture at Bond University. There, he discovered a passion for storytelling through spatial design. ‘After my first year there I looked into NIDA which combined my love for design and theatre. I applied and was fortunate enough to be accepted. NIDA is a completely different world to the one I grew up in.’