Sex and sanitation

February 16, 2015 | By | Reply More

Melanie Jordan on her five star hit

Sanitise, the Fringe First-winning five star hit of the 2014 Edinburgh fringe, returns this week for two nights only at the Traverse Theatre.

Here, Æ is proud to present creator Melanie Jordan’s thoughts on the show, which takes a theatrical journey through the fantasy world of one woman, alone in her bathroom, along with some of Rich Dyson’s images from the fringe run.

Melanie Jordon in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Quirky and imaginative Sanitise combines physical theatre, dance, music and illustration as, without speaking a word, Melanie Jordan examines at a part of life we rarely talk about and follows one woman’s quest for domestic and sexual liberation.

Created by Jordan with Caitlin Skinner – the artistic director of the Village Pub Theatre – Sanitise began life as Jordan’s final year assessment at QMU in 2009. And the final production brings on board Danny Krass for music, Alice Wilson on set design, Lubin Lone on illustration, Calum MacAskill on AV design and Simon Hayes on lighting design – all names to conjure with.

The production wowed audiences at the fringe – in his Æ review Mark Bolsover said it is a “clever, assured, brilliantly designed and executed show. With sex ambiguously bound to the bacterial, it blurs the lines between sexuality, hygiene and morality.”

Melanie Jordon in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

It is intriguing, then, to learn of how Skinner and Jordan recreated the production – a wordless piece of theatre – four months after it was last performed.

“Our first task was to remind ourselves of the ‘think script’ which outlines each individual thought rather than lines of text,” according to Melanie Jordan. “We rewrote the whole play based on the character’s thought narrative. With each individual thought comes an action and/or facial expression.

“When we were creating the show last year we put a great deal of attention on clarifying each thought so that each thought could be read clearly on my face or through my movement on stage. This was quite a long and sometimes difficult process as every raise of my eyebrow was scrutinised and placed carefully within the show.

“However, this hard work has proved incredibly useful now in remembering the show as the thoughts and actions/facial expressions go hand-in-hand. Each on-stage thought automatically creates the facial expressions we worked so hard on last summer. So, it hasn’t been all that difficult to remember.”

Melanie Jordon in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Even more intriguing is the chance to find out Melanie Jordan’s own thoughts behind the production. Plenty of reviewers have put their meaning on Sanitise. Here’s what she has to say about it herself, writing exclusively for Æ.

“For me one of the most important parts of Sanitise is repression. Sexual or otherwise, when we repress parts of ourselves through fear of being unaccepted, judged or ridiculed we squeeze ourselves into a persona that doesn’t quote fit.

“Like a tube of toothpaste, when squeezed hard enough at some point those hidden parts of ourselves will emerge whether we like it or not.

“This is what happens to the lady in Sanitise. Through confusion and fear that her sexual desire doesn’t compute with the images of women and female sexuality she sees in the outside world, she hides her true longings and feels shameful about indulging them.

Melanie Jordon in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

“What is at the heart of Sanitise is a woman who doesn’t feel normal. And who does really?

“I think this is something that many people can identify with. We are constantly bombarded with picture-perfect images of men, women, and relationships that construct an image of normality that is completely unachievable. Sanitise questions what that does to the image you hold of yourself and how you construct your identity.

Sanitise is also about sex. It is about how hairless, slim, shiny women who are at the mercy of a faceless man are shaping the female form for young men and women who can readily access internet porn.

“These images of women, along with the pouty, nearly naked women that sell you your cars, newspapers and perfume, give a confusing message about female sexuality. They say that a women is a submissive thing that requires a dominant faceless man to fulfil her sexually.

Melanie Jordon in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

“It is a cleaned up, oversimplified image of how sex should be (very much not helped by 50 Shades of Grey phenomena – how sexually repressed must a nation be for that book to have become such a part of our world!). Sanitise explores desire as a messy, disgusting, unique and wonderful thing that should be celebrated, not hidden away.

“At the heart of Sanitise is a quest for liberation, for sexual freedom and for self-understanding and respect.”

Listings and links

Sanitise
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street EH1 2ED
Friday 20-Saturday 21 February 2015
Evenings: 8pm.
Tickets and details from: http://www.traverse.co.uk/

Sanitise website: http://sanitise.weebly.com/

Sanitise on Twitter: @Sanitiseplay

Sanitise on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sanitisetheplay

Sanitise on tour 2015:
February 18 Aberdeen
The Lemon Tree
01224 641122 Book online
February 19 Inverness
Eden Court Theatre
01463 234 234 Book online
February 20 – 21 Edinburgh
Traverse
0131 228 1404 Book online
Melanie Jordon in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

Melanie Jordan in Sanitise 2014. Photo by Rich Dyson Photography

ENDS

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