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Event Spotlight: Deadset!

April 12, 2016

Meet Christie Woodhouse and Claire Stjepanovic, the artists behind Deadset! A  vaudeville, cabaret, folk, country mashup, Deadset is a meditation on Australian patriotism. And women (or lack of).

christie claire 3

Image courtesy the artists.

Hi Christie and Claire! Tell us a bit about yourselves:

Christie is a disability support worker and part time fun wrangler.

Claire is a nursing student and part time fun wrangler.

We met in the back rooms and beaches of Wollongong University studying a Performance Bachelor in the early twenty-tens. We both sing opera — and rock’n’roll. Collectively Christie and Claire care for people and get crazy on experimental theatre.


What inspired you to create Deadset?

We made this work because we were disturbed. And we wanted to interrogate how to voice ourselves, two Anglo-Australian women. What is our inheritance? We make this work acknowledging that disturbingly, we didn’t actually want much of what is our inheritance – to be our inheritance. A sexist, systematically abusive patriarchal colonialism and all that comes along with the founding of this country and the incredible vision of this ‘new’ land, and this potential underwritten, undercut, unignorably, and inexcusably, shamefully built on the bodies of so many exploited people. We sourced the spine of this narrative from persisting national songs and symbolism. We juxtapose this with the romantic and incredible vision of Australia often entwined in our national songs. Our achievements and our deep shame. Which too often results in a deep silence, a deep inaction of our contemporary political leaders. We’d like to come from this place, in order to break some boundary on what future citizenship might look like. It is an almost impossible task, and this show is at least an attempt, an experimental gesture to address this. To understand an embodiment of national identity and inheritance, and to provide a critical beyond just touchable for our audiences. Well, let’s get to work. Together.


What can audiences expect from the work? 

An excellent pub band, actual trivia, bingo. Cracking entertainment. All the spectacle our pubs have to offer on the daily. Bring your mates.


How do typically ‘Australian’ myths and narratives exclude women? 

Why is there such high incidences of domestic violence against women in Australia? Why are alcohol related illnesses so prevalent? Why does Australia have the most poker machines per person in the world? But, she’ll be right mate. Y’know?


How do you think this exclusion of women in our Aussie patriotism affects us on a wider, societal level? 

Look, Aussie patriotism is pretty unfashionable for a lot of people. You want a bite of a sausage sandwich and a beer with your mates, but when you set out on Australia day, for so many, there’s this deeply unsettling shadow of a feeling that won’t go away. There’s a deep problem in the heart of our country. This beautiful, ancient, mystifying, rich, wide island nation. Where is she? How can we even celebrate her together? By embodying the songs of Claire & Christie’s white colonial crusty fathers, Maybe we’ll all learn a thing or two about nationalism and what role it has to play. So it does not end up playing us.


Typically, Australian pubs are considered pretty ‘blokey’ places, by taking place in one, does Deadset! aim to actively reclaim these spaces? 

Deadset! actively performs these places and could either elate you or turn your belly into a wobbly mess. This destabilisation is healthy. Also, pubs are healthy. Pubs are the beating heart of Australia’s social fabric. What’s actually going on there in this social mecca? Throughout the years of invasion until this current moment. What do we need these ‘public houses’ to be — right now?


Tell us a fun fact – about anything!

Waltzing Matilda was the first song to be broadcast to EARTH by astronauts!


What YAH 2016 events are you most looking forward to seeing?

Totally looking forward to Let’s Stay in Tonight – Private Lives for some in-house human times to kick off this YAH. Plus party corridors from all the jam events! Too much to mention really. We’re looking forward to running into things we hadn’t even thought of. Imagining Civic Participatory Urbanism workshop! Yes. Lets!