Grumble (Emma Maye Gibson) spoke to us from Canberra about her ongoing attempts to save the world, the magic of working with young people, and collaborating with her friends.
“This is an ongoing womanifesto; a world-saving situation… I’ve really come to realise that’s a mammoth task.
“I’ve been very lucky to realise that there are whole worlds, in every person, and in me. Creativity and watching other humans has definitely saved my world. What we’re trying to do is remind each other about our humanity and our good stuff in these world-saving attempts.”
Grumble certainly saved a few lives on her recent Fringe Festival circuits, with her jaw-dropping show 'Betty Grumble Saves The World', though some people seemed shocked by what Betty had to offer.
“'Shock' is an interesting word, because I don’t set out to shock, I invent things that make me laugh or that come from spaces of naughty trickster energy in retaliation to a world that tells our bodies how to be, or that there’s only one way to be in our bodies, or that our bodies are even our own.
“I don’t think I’m the most shocking thing out there. I think it’s the world or the powers that be that are pretty shocking. I guess people react this way because we don’t usually see a woman body moving the way that mine does in more mainstream spaces. Often nakedness is presented for a particular gaze and I think it’s fun to disrupt that.”
Betty is not just out to save the world though, as she explains.
“Betty’s been disco dancing, doing some Grumble Boogies, we’ve been working with kids to cultivate our inner child’s strength. I’m writing a new show actually, the next one…
“I did a thing in Perth actually called 'The UnShame Machine' which is a pussy-printing party. So we’ve been doing pussy prints and just thinking on how to deepen pleasures.”
Grumble elaborates on her passion for working with youngsters, a very different world from that of her usual theatrical performances.
“Look, we shouldn't be showing them explicit content, that’s obvious and doesn’t even need to be said, but our queerness is important to children because they have queerness as well. That’s their creativity that should be cultivated and help them get bearings on lots of different ways of being.”
“A drag queen is a mythical, gorgeous creature that’s interested in fun energy and playtime, and that’s what kids are all about. When we do play with kids we learn from them as well, they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously, they remind us about our pure love energy which is what conservatives want to stomp out of people, they want to stomp out the questioning intrigue that is within us all as our child selves.”
Betty’s most recent work, 'Grumble N' Friends', takes your typical variety show and flips it on its head, and holds a personal significance for the raucous artist.
“The idea of 'Grumble N' Friends' is to make a space to celebrate friendship as a really vital energy in our community. I talk about love energy so much and I’m a romantic but I’ve had quite a tumultuous year of life challenges and friends have been really vital in my healing and I really wanted to celebrate that, as well as riff on the history of variety shows.”
What do you do in your day-to-day life?I am a designer and theatre maker. My work, in close collaboration with some of Australia’s most exciting artists, (including queer theatre outfit Little Ones Theatre) regularly challenges the patriarchy, works towards decolonisation, and advocates for and supports underrepresented minority identities, particularly people of colour and the queer community.Read more: