Midsumma: Lay of the Land

Performance artist Tim Miller is from LA, he lived in New York for a while and spent some recent time at Monash Uni here in Melbourne. He’s been performing and writing since the early 80s. His solo performances, published books and workshops explore identity as a gay man and since 1999 his political and creative focus has been on highlighting the inequality and injustices faced by same sex couples in the US.

Tim Miller

Lowlights of Tim’s story include having his National Endowment for the Arts Solo Performer Fellowship overturned, under political pressure because of the gay themes in his work, and he and his Australian-born partner’s 19-year battle facing the US immigration bureaucracy as a same sex couple. Highlights include getting married on the day that same sex marriage became legal in New York City.

Lay of the Land is the part of his story about wanting to get married and he shares moments that defined his views on marriage, from wanting to marry his best friend when he was nine to facing pick up trucks with gun racks at a Pride march and sitting in a Qantas plane wondering if the thousands they spent on an immigration lawyer will get partner, Alistair, through immigration when they land.

It’s a work about love that’s shaped by anger and frustration. When the love dominates – like wondering why we all still pull in our bellies in bed – it’s easy to find the shared experiences, but often the anger dominates the performance and works to alienate rather than welcome its audience

From re-inacting his conception from the sperm’s POV, his actively exaggerated writing tells wonderful nearly-true stories (go to see what happens when protesters are locked up over the weekend), but it’s not always easy to be let into his world; a world that also seems to welcome, love and accept him in more ways that it rejects him.

At the end of the piece, he spoke to the audience as Tim, dropping the intense persona of Tim the performer, and it was so easy to like him and want to to know his story. I enjoyed performer Tim’s writing and his story needs to be heard way beyond the supportive Midsumma crowd, but it’s the not-so-performing Tim who’s far more interesting.

It’s also this guy who’s running Queering the Body workshops this week at Theatre Works that are culminating with a group devised performance on Sunday 26 January at 5 pm. And there’s a Q&A after Friday night’s performance of Lay of the Land.

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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