All The Sex I've Ever Had
Sound Designing Stories of Sex
And now for something completely different!
Taking a short break from my Ngarang-wal project, I was recently asked to join a theatre production in Sydney. Two previous sound designers had pulled out and they needed someone who knew the project and could work fast. So, I booted up Ableton on my laptop, warmed up my vocal chords and took one of those wonderfully short career detours that only the arts can provide.
Would you ever divulge your entire sexual history to complete strangers? And do it on stage in front of an audience?
That was the brief for six ordinary people who’ve lived extraordinary lives and I was fortunate enough to be on stage with them - NOT divulging my own intimate stories (at least not many!) but as the sound designer and on-stage MC for the groundbreaking social theatre project called All The Sex I’ve Ever Had.
All five shows by Canadian company, Mammalian Diving Reflex were sold out with standing ovations every night as part of Sydney’s World Pride Festival 2023.
Our cast members, six elders from the LGBTQIA+ community of Sydney are not actors or performers, but were open and willing to share their sexual experiences and by default, the stories from decades of their lives.
The six storyteller’s sex lives unfold throughout the years, starting from the year the eldest cast member was born (1948), all the way to 2023 and then they’re catapulted into the future to 2048 and the cast envision what their ideal sex lives would look like.
Woaa!!!....hold up….Remember the “Pledge not to Gossip”
What’s said at the All the Sex I’ve Ever Had… Stays at All the Sex I’ve Ever Had.
So I wont go into the nitty gritty of the stories… but as each year progresses, I trigger instrumental loops of popular songs from those years and decades, providing a soundtrack to the narratives that unfold. With the backdrop of World Pride and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, this soundtrack was made up of songs the cast loved, as well as anthems for the queer community through the decades.
The music acts as both a nostalgic prompt and an emotional accompaniment throughout the performance. It is not always used to follow the emotions in the text, but occasionally the moods align and the music underscores an emotion that hits hard. Seeing audience members react to these moments bought me great joy. We played an edited version of Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever at the year 1980 as a premonition to the aids epidemic and looking out into the audience you could see that they understood the stories that were about to be told.
When we hit the year 1995 I did have to reveal my own “first time” to which I received a warm “well done Fletch” from the cast members of the show to the soundtrack of “Truely Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden.
The 45th anniversary of the first Sydney Mardi Gras rippled through many of the stories and the overall energy of this production. There were four of the original 78ers (participants of the original protest march) so when we got to the year 1978 the story picked up the pace as the events from that night unfolded from four different perspectives. I faded out the music (the rockin’ guitars from the intro of “Rebel, Rebel” by Bowie) just as things start getting violent and then the year ends as one is taken to Darlinghurst Police station and beaten.
This is the second All The Sex production I have been part of. I did the same role back in 2018 for the Gold Coast version. There is a common thread throughout the stories that are shared. They are full of joy and heartbreak, unbridled passion and tragedy. I am awed by the vulnerability and humility that is shared on stage, some of these stories are hard to hear, but there is a lot of space for the audience to reflect on their own lives which is what makes this show so special.
The ABC’s Art Works show did a great little piece on their first show back for 2023 (airing on Sunday 12th March). You will see me doing a few cheesy enactments of doing the live show.
Here is a link to a repackaged feature on ABC’s 7.30 Report
ABC's 7.30 Report - All The Sex Feature
Thanks again to all the Mammalian and Darlinghurst production crew and also to the wonderfull six cast members who shared their lives with us on stage.
Well done Fletch. What a wonderful experience both professionally and as a participant.