In a story of young adulthood, Poles: The Science of Magnetic Attraction is a theatrical comedy piece, primarily about finding your way in the world, and the act of monetising your body, which often carries a heavy stigma.
Becoming her character- Cora- Amelia has given more of an insight into the backstory for the piece, and the general perception of the occupation of a stripper, as well as its relation to capitalism in society.
What inspired you to create this production, and how was it developed?
I worked as a stripper before attending drama school, and was shocked at how different it was to the way it’s portrayed in the media. I started writing little anecdotes in my notes app after work about what had gone on that night, funny stories, or something about a customer I’d met. I was butting up against a lot of judgement whenever people found out that I was stripping or had stripped, so I learned to keep it quiet. I felt weird about owning that part of my life, weird about labelling myself as a stripper and what might come with that - until I thought fuck it, THAT mindset is the problem, and I want to be telling stories that challenge it. It was developed in Melbourne, where it was initially cancelled due to COVID, before opening at The Butterfly Club and then touring to Adelaide Fringe.
How is this show relatable to its audience?
POLES is a celebration and interrogation of that “what am I actually doing with my life” feeling so many of us have in our 20s. It’s packed with other characters that we all know in some way - from the always-more-successful-than-you friend, to the softboi who calls himself a feminist but thinks sex work isn’t a real job. It’s also about loneliness, and trying to make friends when you’re not really sure how.
What relevance does the effects of capitalism have throughout the show?
Capitalism underpins the entire show, because it underpins the way we all live our lives. It’s in the pressure to get a 9-5 and to look like you’ve got it all figured out; it’s in the dismissal of sex work or stripping as a legitimate job because it exists outside the typical framework of a “career”.
How does your show aim to perceive strippers as an occupation, and should it be a more respected role in society?
Stripping is exactly that - an occupation. And it doesn’t have to be empowering - that’s a key message in the show. Would you ask an accountant if they found their job empowering? Probably not. For many, their job is simply a source of income. Stripping and other forms of sex work also should absolutely be respected as a legitimate role/career! It’s hard work, but for many, the hours and income capacity allow workers to support themselves, have more time to study, and/or be more present with family than if they worked a traditional 9-5 or hospitality job.
What was the most important lesson you learnt from being a stripper yourself?
That I’m an amazing liar. I wish it was something deep and meaningful, but it’s just not. One night I’d pretend to be an American studying medicine, the next I was an International Law student from London. Great place to practise accents as an actor. But yes, I can bullshit til the cows come home.
How can pole dancing be linked to femininity in a positive way, and the stigma be decreased?
Pole dancing takes an incredible amount of strength, and I believe strength in any capacity is intrinsic to femininity. One key way to dismantle stigma is to diversify the stories we hear so that we are always listening to people from outside our bubble. We also have to dismantle the stigma around the origin of poledancing: as an entertainment form. More stories from the sex industry!
Do you have a favourite line in the show that you're happy to share?
“Aren’t we all selling our bodies? Isn’t that what capitalism literally is?”
Big thank you to Amelia for answering these, and sharing more on your experiences that you delve into in the show. I hope you've had a fantastic run so far, and all the best for whatever comes your way next!
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