When it comes to live entertainment, the Border region is well served with large scale musical productions and visiting shows, but for Kyle Walmsley who moved to the area in early 2016 there is space for edgier locally made theatre.
Border Cafe caught up with Kyle as he prepared for his one man show, In His Image, which opens this week at The Cube, Wodonga.
When God created the world as described in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Over the centuries of cultural retelling, local comedian Kyle Walmsley says the apple has become the symbol of the couple’s temptation. But, in the world according to Kyle, the fruit could just as easily have been a banana.
It is this and other beliefs Kyle labels ‘other absurdities and assumptions made’ that he will explore in his newest show, In His Image.
“Even for a non religious person there is a fixed idea of what that fruit was, so I am interested in exploring this. Also that the sixty-six books in this ancient text have been translated, handed down and translated again, and passed down through multiple authors and we’ve ended up with a version and mutually agreed that yes – that is the Word of God,” he says.
Kyle says he had a very intense religious upbringing, so the show is creative non-fiction and a way for him to reflect on his growing up in regional Queensland and his multiple attempts at theatre degrees.
He says it is also a way to explore the world of literalists who believe God created the world in seven days.
“To me this is as magical a story as you will find in theatre and in art. Through the show I want to highlight the other things we assume are in the Bible, but actually aren’t in there.”
The choice of a banana as the forbidden fruit was a logical choice for this award winning, internationally trained clown who is now the Associate Artist at the renowned Flying Fruit Fly Circus where, not surprisingly, he teaches clown and theatre.
“The banana is a little wink to absurdity and also to clowning, and the time honoured tradition of slipping on a banana peel.”
In His Image had its own genesis in his show How to Make a One Person Fringe Show in 3 Months which won the award for Best Theatre at the Darwin Fringe Festival in 2017.
“That show in a sense was about creation – making theatre. I woke up on stage to find I hadn’t made my Fringe show so I had to make it live in front of the audience. In a sense I have always been interested in creation and in people’s creative processes.”
But the making of In His Image is doing more than exploring creation: it explores a world of religion he has left behind.
“In the last 10 years moving from my 20s to my 30s I’ve owned that I am not religious any more.
“There wasn’t a moment when I rebelled against my family and told them I’d changed my beliefs; I just went to church less and less and then started dodging questions from my parents about my church going. I just, sort of, whimpered out of it. Then there was drama school and exploring relationships.
“I think of this show as my ‘coming out’ of religion story, although it probably isn’t necessary for people to make a public statement that they’re not religious,” he adds.
He freely admits that his Mum might not approve of the show, and some people may be offended, but believes it is important to create theatre that opens up a space for “riskier conversations.”
It is this approach that has earned him not only the Darwin Festival Award but accolades when he was a national finalist for the Northern Territory at the 2012 Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Raw Comedy Competition, one critic wrote – “Kyle is a master clown and comedian. This is orchestrated chaos of the best kind.”
“My aim is to take people down the live theatre version of a YouTube rabbit hole for an hour of their lives and leave them with a lot to think about, or to just eat a banana or two.”
Local musical act Mia Grace & The Aviators will play before and after each performance of the show.
*Recommended for ages 16 and over – contains coarse language and adult themes
Date: Thursday, July 12 to Saturday, July 14, 2018
Cost: All $29, Concession $25. Member $21, Member concession $18.50