THROUGH THE CRACKS: Tasnim Hossain

See LETTERS TO JOHN at #CTF2017!

 

CTF: Why do you make experimental performance?

 

I primarily work as a playwright, though I have written and performed spoken word poetry for a number of years. I’m interested in experimental performance because sometimes I get to a point where what I traditionally do – write dialogue for actors to say to each other as characters – doesn’t fit with the story I want to tell or the experience I want to create. As soon as we break the expectations of a particular form, I feel like that’s when we can do really interesting things and make bold choices for ourselves as artists.

 

CTF: Describe for us a highlight moment with ‘John’?

 

Me, crying to him about all the girls in my community getting married and how I’d probably have to get an arranged 7marriage and him looking kind of freaked out and telling me he didn’t feel like he was “qualified” to help me. My retort was that it wasn’t like people were awarding degrees in arranged marriage counselling. Also, I am very happy to report that six years on, I am very much not married, arranged or otherwise, but what a conversation to fall into for a nice, well-bred, upper-middle-class Anglo Aussie boy!

 

CTF: A highlight of developing and/or performing this work so far?

 

Attending a workshop at the Arts Centre Melbourne with the incredible UK performance artist, Bryony Kimmings. I went there with an idea and a thumbs-up from CTF to put on the show, but in those five days, I got the entire show onto butcher’s paper. The heart and the spine were all there by the end of it and I’ve just been fleshing it out since. Ew. What an image!

 

CTF: What are three words/phrases that describe your body of work?

 

Considered; compassionate; exploring connections.

 

CTF: What can audiences expect?

 

I think audiences can expect to laugh and possibly feel a bit uncomfortable. I hope that audiences can identify with finding themselves in complicated relationships with complex people (not necessarily romantically) that have made them question a lot of things they never thought to think about. That was certainly my experience with John. People defy easy categorisation; they surprise you, they disappoint you, but ultimately, they’re just human.

 

CTF: Have you been to Crack Theatre Festival before? Is there a little pearl of a memory you can share with us that marks that experience as distinctly CTF?

 

I have been to Crack Theatre Festival once before, in 2016. It was the first time that I’d ever been to TiNA after hearing about it for years and years and never being able to get myself together enough to attend. I was actually there as an artist for NYWF (which I am doing again this year too, two bites of the cherry makes it extra delicious) and my friend who is a CTF veteran took me along to see a bunch of shows and some other friends were making a show. The memory that I love of CTF was of hearing those friends rewriting and rehearsing their show downstairs, while I drifted in and out of a mid-afternoon nap in their borrowed bed upstairs (I was so exhausted I couldn’t make it back to my hotel – gosh, TiNA is intense!) and then a few hours later, seeing the show onstage in front of me. I think that that can-do experimentation and willingness to explore and take risks was something that I really loved in that moment.