Okay, so I know we’ve got bios, but I thought it might be valuable to do an introduction blog post anyway, that can be more like a conversation with me, rather than a CV “here’s why I look cool on paper” so here’s me.
I’m Evie, I’m non binary trans and use the pronouns them, they, theirs. I’m queer (not gay as in happy, but queer as in...). I have endometriosis which even before this project I was hella vocal about, but I'm still new to calling myself disabled. I’m white, and I’m committed to being anti-racist, but as Ijeoma Oluo says “the beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist” which is my way of acknowledging that I am still a person of white privilege and I’m still working and always will be working on undoing my own racism. I’ll do my best to keep myself accountable, but when I fail, I welcome criticism.
[Image description: a screenshot of tweet from Ijeoma Oluo @IjeomaOluo July 15, 2019: The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward.]
So, you may be gathering that I’m hella political, and have a pretty strong voice about a lot of injustices (something you will see if you continue to read my blog posts). Of course my opinions are my own and not representative of anyone else here at GWS, or of any organisation, and they are also ever changing, open to criticism and willing to change with new evidence. That doesn’t mean @ me with TERF nonsense or try to convince me I shouldn’t care about the injustices of the world, it just means that within the framework of compassion and critical thinking, I’m defs always willing to learn.
I grew up relatively poor in a town that used to be rural back then that is now a small city in WA, and moved to Perth alone for uni when I was 19. I didn’t do circus as a kid, in fact I was actively discouraged from being physically active by my family and teachers because I was really academic so I guess they were like “wow, this will make for a super well rounded individual—ONLY ACADEMIA”. Jokes. Anyway, when I moved out alone I discovered I was exceptionally weak to the point that it caused me a lot of problems, so I started working out and that was how I discovered that people can actually get stronger when they have access to sports and fitness (weird how the straight A’s smart kid hadn’t realised that and had somehow been lead to believe that all fitness and strengths and sporting abilities were simply innate).
The gym turned into parkour turned into circus turned into trying to make a career out of circus. Meanwhile I finished my BSc in synthetic chemistry and science communications and did my honours, too. This was also around the time when I first started trying to seek medical care for my then undiagnosed endometriosis. Unlike many, my symptoms didn’t start with puberty. I actually had ~dream~ periods, light, short, rarely painful, rarely causing PMD and with a clockwork cycle of 32 day, until I went on the pill after high school and, well… [mimics explosion]. When things hadn’t settled down a year later—my first year of uni—I tried to get doctors to listen but was dismissed and invalidated until I just stopped trying.
After my BSc and Honours I set out to turn my circus practice into a career, which first had me travelling internationally to train, which actually turned out to be a much less positive experience than I expected, in no small part because it coincided with my endo symptoms becoming much more pronounced and lasting longer and longer with each flare up.
I returned to Australia, this time to Melbourne, with the hopes of attending NICA to help me to become the circus professional I envisioned myself as. I also immediately found a doctor and went about the process of demanding care for what I by then had already worked out for myself was almost certainly endometriosis (self diagnosis is valid, y’all—it may be imperfect, but for a lot of things and a lot of people, often it's all we've got and it's all I had for nearly a decade).
I found a wonderful GP who was both validating about my endo and my gender. I started out at NICA, symptoms still worsening, but making the most of it and supported by one single particularly wonderful coach, waited about 18 months to see a gynae through the public system and then another 11 months to get a laparoscopy (I’ll talk about this and why it was a fully fucked up experience later). Had to drop out of NICA because of my worsening symptoms, the damage done to me by the laparoscopy and insufficient support to manage my condition and the confounding effects of the surgery whilst training. Fell into a very deep depression, and was just sort of almost kind of surfacing again when Sam pitched this project (or, the show part of it) to me.
Since then, I’m slowly but surely getting my groove back, and finally getting my pain management back to how it was pre-op, and, very importantly, I’m un-internalising capitalism, and internalising the social model of disability—something I was already very onboard with generally, but which it has taken work to apply to myself and my own circumstances; as I said at the start—I'm still new to owning the word disabled, but I do; I am disabled, but I'm new to identifying myself as such. I still have regular, chronic pain that I wish I didn’t have, I still have all the other weird, nebulous, hard to pin down other symptoms that come with endometriosis, along with some anxiety and depression that’s probably always going to be there, but which right now feel manageable.
I’m trying to get back into training circus physically again, and I don’t think I would’ve got to this point without the life and energy I get from working with the team on this project. I’m also a recipient of the Midsumma Pathways programme; a nine month mentorship programme for LGBTQIA+ folks with disability. I’m really excited to be working with the other recipients, many of whom I’ve already come across in my meanderings; with Mama Alto, the course coordinator; [redacted until I’m sure I’m allowed to say her name] who will be my mentor for this project, helping me to develop my voice as a dramaturg making deeply political work with circus; and I’m excited to say I’m already working with Ben Sheen as a dramaturgy mentor—he is someone whose methods and work I deeply admired from the perspective of a performer and circus student, whom I’ve enlisted to help me understand and begin working on the other side of the creative process, as a dramaturg rather than as a performer.
My whole deal is trying to make people more informed and more compassionate, and sometimes I do it with science communications type explanations of stuff, and sometimes I do it with angry, shouty rants, I dream of doing it effectively with circus, as a dramaturg as I am for this show, and also, hopefully, with my own performance work, too.