MICF: Tina C

Tina C: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word. Photo by Lachlan Woods
Tina C: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word. Photo by Lachlan Woods

An Englishman dresses an American woman to present a lecture-cum-corroboree-cum-sing-a-long to white middle class theatre goers. She doesn’t understand that we celebrate the battles we lost, but she knows that Mabo isn’a a dance and thinks it’s time she explained Indigenous reconciliation to us. With so many levels of wrong, Tina C may well be the most right thing in town

Melbourne met Tina C in the Speigeltent in 2006 and welcomes her back with open everything. Tina C: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word is created by the UK’s Christopher Green (who we’ve also seen in Finucane and Smith’s Salon De Dance), but I still have trouble accepting that Tina’s not from North America’s south.

Gal singer superstar (in her head) Tina loves the soft power of middle-of-the-road country pop, so naturally found an affinity with some of Australia’s best country singers and musicians, like Jimmy Little and Bob Randell, and even with the rock of Yothu Yindi. Following Kate Bush’s dance steps (remember The Dreaming album), she knows that pretty singers with awesome legs can change the world, and while Rolf Harris played with Kate, Tina is joined by musican James Henry (Deadly Award nominee) and her almost-twin singer Auriel Andrew (Deadly Lifetime Achievement Award winner and a 2011 OAM).

As Andrew sings Randell’s “Brown Skin Baby” and tells her own story, Tina rightly cannot understand why our little nation hasn’t grasped that white folk are the original boat people. She doesn’t care about increasing our white-middle-class guilt; she just wants us to see the bleeding obvious.

Many an academic and drunken dinner party conversation has offered reasons for our blocks in logic, but Tina wonders is it’s because Australian Indigenous art isn’t easy-to-wear jewellery (like that lovely turquoise Native American stuff) or because they don’t make delicious snacks we can buy in specialist delis.

She may have a point. I’m wearing earrings from Indonesia and a scarf from Vietnam as I snack on falafel. Yep, us white folk love indigenous accessories and foreign snacks. So perhaps it’s time to follow Tina’s example. After all, she wears dot-print hot pants and a knock-off Acubra with as much class as Dame Edna wears sequins.

I can start with my dot-painting handbag. It was a gift and, even though I love a colourful accessory, it stayed in my cupboard as I was unsure if it’s an offensive and condescending appropriation of ancient art or a celebratory integration of culture. Thanks to Tina, it’ll be on my arm this week in celebration. I wonder if I can find matching hot pants…

This is the genius of Tina C. Her arguments are so naively off that she unbalances logic and makes us look at something we think we understand from a new angle. There’s room for more of Tina’s story and a stronger narrative in the show, but nothing can take away from her sparklie heart and the sharp intelligence of her creator.

More of Anne-Marie’s writing is at sometimesmelbourne.blogspot.com

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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