A bold exploration of the female form

Hannah Tasker-Poland in The Most Naked. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Hannah Tasker-Poland in The Most Naked. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
In a cabaret and burlesque inspired production, Hannah Tasker-Poland is exploring nudity in The Most Naked.  Wyatt Ryder asked her some questions to unclothe some of the mystery of the show. The Most Naked is on at Mayfair Theatre at 8pm today.

Who do you think the show will appeal to?

We've an absolute smorgasboard of treats for a real diverse audience. Anyone who digs cabaret, dance, theatre, burlesque, live music and live performance that is utterly visceral, sexy, funny and wild.

How did you become involved with cabaret?

My main body of work is as a dance artist, physical performer and actor, but I've also been creating very avant-garde burlesque/fetish/cabaret performance works for well over a decade now. It was a way to blend all the things I am fascinated in and feel strongly about in regards to the body, sensuality, sexuality, eroticism and that magic way that art forms like burlesque or cabaret can use easily recognisable archetypes of say, women or femme people, and cleverly stretch, twist and subvert those archetypes until they become something unrecognisable. Cabaret draws people in and gets them laughing, and then when their mouths are open from laughing you just geeeeently place that little truth bomb in there. Magic.

What do you enjoy most about the production?

While The Most Naked was inspired by and speaks to ideas, themes and happenings that are historical and universal, it is also a very personal statement. It is literally a culmination of my life’s experience of being a woman, a femme, of being fascinated by and creating art that explores ideals of the feminine, the erotic, and the perception that people have of those ideals. Being able to weave all of this into a cohesive show, to have the privilege of sharing it with so many audience members and receiving such deeply moving feedback has been a very humbling and inspiring experience.

What political elements does the show touch on?

There are many elements that are touched on but the real core of the piece is this ideal of the feminine form. This thing that has been so worshipped, so idolised, so obsessed over and so lusted after, but also very repressed, abused, manipulated, controlled. Don't get me wrong, the show is just as laugh-out-loud funny and pant-moisteningly scintillating as it is political and intense, but it is very important to me that the values of autonomy, agency and positive representations of bodies, sex, sexuality and eroticism are upheld in everything I make, and The Most Naked is no different. We aim to send people into their own behaviours and perceptions and really provoke thought, as well as being straight-up entertaining as hell.

How many people did it take to put this show together?

I am so fortunate to have had some amazing collaborators helping bring this work to life — costume, set, lighting etc. The majority of the grunt work in creating, producing and choreographing/directing the work was done by myself, but once I started collaborating with the incredible Lucien Johnson, our composer and the musician, the work really came to life. Lucien was instrumental (pun intended) in bringing all the pieces of the work together. He helped me with the writing, the staging, transitions, giving me pep talks when I'd fall into an exhaustion hole, and not least with the astonishing compositions he has created and plays live.

What do you think it means to be naked?

To be honest, free, vulnerable, powerful. Perhaps my perception has been skewed as I am so often physically naked for jobs, but I tend to think of being naked as not having anything to do with how few clothes you're wearing.

What kind of feedback have you received so far?

I could not have predicted the feedback we have got. We have audience members coming up to us in tears afterwards, saying it was such a cathartic experience, like they were seeing parts of their lives lived out that they didn't know how to articulate but recognised them when they saw it. Or that they felt uplifted, empowered. That they were laughing at the beginning and in tears by the end. One woman said she kept wanting to get up and just scream and jump up and down in excitement. I am blown away, and so happy. If we can connect with just one person in that way, then I am over the moon.