Last night, Sinner Saint Burlesque packed the house at The Can Can for the second installment of The Inheritance Series. “Mother” explored multiple aspects of motherhood, including struggles with choice, “me time”, and egg donation. It was a powerful and moving experience, especially because principal dancer Evilyn Sin Claire was able to perform with her own mother, bellydance goddess Delilah.
The evening began with hostess Diva Le Deviant performing an original poem dedicated to her formative experiences with her mother’s body and her desire for it. Jesse Belle-Jones followed with her piece about infanticide set to Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe,” in which she enacts the narrative of what might have been thrown off the ledge at Choctaw Ridge. Lady Tatas and Nikola Tease-la brought some levity to the evening with a comedic number about status and competition at a PTA meeting in the suburbs. Evilyn Sin Claire followed with a piece about her experiences as an egg donor, narrated with readings from the letters she exchanged with the recipients of her genetic material. Dona Dei Cuori cleaned up after her (as she did after each preceding act) as the show’s own harried mother figure, just trying to catch a minute to herself to change clothes in peace. The show then drew to a close with an intense performance by special guest Delilah, who awakened the elements (played by Sinner Saint’s principal dancers) and gave birth to the world.
After the performance, the audience stayed for a talkback with the performers, which Sailor St. Claire feverishly documented live on Twitter in 140 character increments. We wanted to share some of this conversation, so we’ve reconstructed it from our Twitter feed here. Thank you to last night’s audience for participating in the discussion! We hope you find it as enlightening as we did!
(Please note that questions and responses not in direct quotes have been distilled to suit the medium of Twitter. Material in direct quotes is verbatim.)
Q: What inspired Diva’s piece about the moment of witnessing her mother’s body?
Diva: This piece is an honest admiration of love for my mother, but she was also my first experience with what a woman should be. It’s about the painful process of separating ourselves from our mothers, to love them & love ourselves simultaneously.
Q: Do you each write your own pieces or are they written for you?
Evilyn: We each address our concepts, but workshop them with each other.
Comment from an audience member in re: Delilah’s act: “That last act! I was a little freaked out!”
Q: Jesse, tell us about your act. When I realized you threw your baby off the ledge, I gasped.
Jesse: This act is about infanticide, which is a choice in a world where women don’t have resources to make other choices. It’s about what we can do or end up doing when we aren’t ready for motherhood.
Q: Evilyn, was it difficult to portray your story of egg donation & what was it like to dance with your mother?
Evilyn: No, it wasn’t hard. None of us, except my mom, have living children, so I wanted to explore my experience with genetic maternity. The birth scene with my mom actually scared me because it reminded me of being there when my sister was born & not understanding.
Delilah: My piece is supposed to scare you. It’s powerful. It’s primordial. It’s awesome.
Q: Has this show given you new insights into your relationship with your mothers?
Nikola: This show has made me miss my mom. She doesn’t know I do this, but this is her humor. Everything I do is her influence.
Polly: My mother became injured during this show, so I’ve been mothering my mom & noticing her being out of control & being cared for.
Comment from audience member and boylesque performer Billy Corazon: This is was a burleskrieg! All the feels at once!
Q: What elements were you in the birthing the universe piece?
A: electro-magnetic force, strong force, gravity, weak force
Q: Doña, who were you giving the finger to in your act?
Doña: It was to everyone, inspired by my mother losing herself in everyone else’s needs.
Diva invites mothers in the audience comments about the pieces they most responded to:
Audience mom: I am a mother, but I was most moved by the infanticide & egg donation pieces.
Audience mom: I’m a military spouse, so I related to the competition piece.
Audience mom: The infanticide piece was rough, but I could empathize.
Jesse: “”Just to be clear, that is not my story. It’s a story to be told, but it’s not my story.”
Evilyn: A lot of us wanted to make an act about wanting to be a mom, but not being ready. And we just couldn’t figure out how to strip it.
Q: Tell us about the PTA act.
Tatas: I saw a lot of vulnerability in my mother’s stories about her PTA experiences when I was a kid. I can’t even believe it happens.
Nikola: It also happened organically when we would tease each other backstage competitively.
Q. Men! What moved you most & why?
Terry (a Seattle burlesque super fan): The piece set to “Ode to Billy Joe.” I grew up with that song, but never really knew what it was about til now.
Audience member: Diva’s piece about her mother’s body resonated with me because I had the same experience with my father’s forearms.
The Mayor: It strikes me that motherhood is something I will never experience.
Tatas: The creative process mimics the birthing process in a way.
Nikola: I’m not a mother, but I do work with children & have to respond to them like a mother. Where do I draw the line?
Jesse: At times, I felt like a poser to be in this show as someone who doesn’t have children. I don’t know about mothering.
Delilah: I don’t know if motherhood is only for women. A lot of men are great moms. Birth is ushering something into the world. But motherhood is all the years after.
Doña: Everyone has the opportunity to mother themselves, to birth yourself every day.
Billy Corazon: The worry that I couldn’t keep making art if I had children is something I related to with this show.
Q: The use of spoken word moved me. Where did Delilah’s spoken word piece come from?
Delilah: It’s called “The Charge of the Goddess” from the Gnostic Gospels.
Q: Looking to the next show, how are you approaching “Crone”?
Evilyn: We have to act more. It’s important to me not to put on old face or make fun of old women. I want to portray it well.
Doña: I was inspired by a friend who passed away at 36 recently and her freedom & surrender in that moment. Her realization that material things don’t matter.
Nikola: At 28, my family tells me I am getting old. And I freak out about growing old alone.
Jesse: My imagination has gone to the experience of my ancestors instead of imagining myself at that stage of life.
Q: Why Maiden-Mother-Crone? Why now?
Evilyn: Miley Cyrus. I watched Miley Cyrus after I got back from Burning Man and I was like, “Is that what the kids are doing these days?” We thought about mentorship & touching people, and the Can Can wanted us, where we could have an 18+ crowd. “So let’s touch the kids! Let’s do an 18+ show!”