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Artist Spotlight: Isabelle Martinez

April 12, 2016

Filipino artist, Isabelle Martinez, is in Australia for You Are Here to perform two works, Appropriate Kissing For All Occasions and Relationship Anatomy.

We caught up with Isabelle to find out more:


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Hi Isabelle, so great to have you in Australia for YAH16! Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice:

Hi! It still feels so surreal that we are finally here. You can also call me Isab, I’m an artist from the Philippines. David and I first met when I was still with Sipat Lawin and we staged his play “To Heat You Up and Cool You Down”. Then we worked together in Battalia Royale with Georgie McAuley, Jordan Prosser, Sam Burns-Warr, a big ensemble of Sipat Lawin players and a lot of guest artists.

We’ve been talking about working together on something, but we weren’t really sure of what it was. Shortly after the last show of Battalia, I took a break from theatre and got a full-time job as an Account Manager for an ad agency (from which I just celebrated my last day just last Friday, yay!). Every now and then, David and I would just throw ideas at each other (one them has something to do about tampons and cutting hair). So this went on for a while, me doing my fulltime job and him doing his thing. And then…



What inspired you and David Finnigan to create Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions?

I suddenly thought of this: Would a monologue about sloppy makeouts and horrible exes be offensive to the mentioned exes (not that their names are mentioned)?

I quickly sent an email to David and then this happened:


Since then, we shared our worst kisses and then David had this idea of doing a lecture-type of work. Soon we also shared different “sexy TED Talk” videos, most of them are unsuccessful at being sexy. We were also inspired by this sex therapist named Kim Anami, you’ll have to look her up, she’s something.



What can audiences expect from the work?

For most of us, kissing is just another thing that we do with someone else. Hopefully, after the show, they get to review how crucial a good kiss is and maybe pick up a few tips or two about kissing. To summarize, it’s a lecture about kissing but it’s not just an ordinary lecture. Let’s just say there will be kissing evaluation involved!



You are also presenting another show, created with Finnigan, at YAH16, can you tell us a bit about Relationship Anatomy?

Relationship Anatomy was another crazy idea that David and I just thought of out of whim. For Karnabal 2015, we wanted to do a new work and everyone else were talking about poverty, hunger, politics, etc. Those are great too, but how about the basic things in life like relationships? So we came up with Relationship Anatomy, this has a similar format to a focus group discussion wherein a facilitator gets the opinion of the participants, but instead of an ad, it will be a specific relationship.



Are the two shows linked?

We used to say that AKFAO and RA are two unrelated works. But we’re in talks on making a sort of sequel to AKFAO and realized that these two are actually linked no matter how much we deny it. They both deal with matters that we all encounter in our lives. Story wise, RA is the prequel to AKFAO, but both works can be watched separately without the need of watching the other.



Coming from the Philippines, what are the cultural differences that you’ve noticed surrounding kissing and love, compared to in Australia?

The Philippines is still relatively conservative and it’s not just about kissing, but also in discussing matters about intimacy like sex and relationships. Sure we talk about love a lot, and boy do we get passionate about it. But most of the time, you only talk about these matters to selected friends. There’s still some sort of bad stereotyping on people who enjoy sex (or simple acts of intimacy like kissing and cuddling) and talk about it with the rest of the world. You won’t see much PDA in the Philippines, or else the conservative aunties will stare at you and obviously talk about you until you’ll feel embarrassed. Unless, you’re drunk in a bar and everyone else is drunk and they don’t really care about you. Haha.



What’s your best (or worst!) kissing story?

Not bragging, but I have been repeatedly told that I am a good kisser. So when I say that I experienced a bad kisser, I know that it’s not me. The worst would be the ones that I did not feel anything after the kiss. No thrill, no satisfaction. Nada.


For my best kissing story, it would be how Carlo, my current partner, and I got together. Let’s just say that there were tequila shots involved (him) and he forgot what exactly happened. But all he remembered was how good we kissed that night. Good thing that went well, because we’ve been together since then for almost 4 years now. Apologies for the cheese!



What’s your best piece of love advice?

Never get into a relationship because you want to change a person. This has been said so many times but there are still a lot of people who fall for someone in hopes that he/she will change for the better. No. JUST NO.



Tell us a fun fact – about anything!

When we left Manila, it was 38 degrees and sometimes it reached 40! When we were packing, our sweat was dripping on the floor. Now we’re here, it’s just cold! It’s a welcome change.

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

I am looking forward to all the mixer events and meeting other artists. I am really fascinated by how we are all so different yet so the same! Does that make sense? I’ll be watching whatever show I could watch, if schedule permits. I am just really excited being here!