From nationally-renowned poet Anisa Nandaula comes 'How To Spell Love', an immersive and collaborative production as part of this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival, which captures the poet’s unique exploration of identity.
Anisa’s production of 'How To Spell Love', with its inclusivity of physical movement and live rhythm, complements her more traditional poetry, with themes that shine a light on the experience of an individual caught in the middle of intersecting political structures. It’s a world away from the poet’s more traditional productions but a natural progression for her nonetheless. This multimedia production is allowing the audience to be fully encapsulated by the piece in a multitude of ways. “Not only are you hearing the work but you are seeing the work,” Anisa says.
“You’re hearing it through the music and it adds another layer to the story and immerses you in every way.
“I talk about the commodification of the female body and use the example of a supermarket – not only are you hearing me describe metaphors, you’re hearing the swipe of a credit card, you’re seeing a dancer explain things through her body movements – you’re really being immersed in the work in every way possible.”
Ultimately, Anisa agrees that the style of creative immersion she’s presenting in this production gives her original words a new and different kind of depth. “Through the words, you’re understanding my story in this particular point of time, however, when you add physical movement and the sound element, it’s like time travel.
“I’m taking you back to a particular moment where this thing happened; you are not listening to me, you are experiencing it with me.”
With the added talents of percussionist Benjamin Shannon and dancer Prue Wilson, it’s the expressive nuances in their own creative endeavours which Anisa felt would complement her work.
“Benjamin’s way of being able to use his drum kit to find nuances in every moment and bring them out. And the way Prue can make silence speak louder than some of my words through her body movement, they really helped bring these emotions to life, they’re both very talented artists.”
Such an opportunity presented to Anisa by the Arts Queensland Judith Wright Showcase Program means, she says, that any future creative collaborations and indeed, her solo output, will occur on broader horizons.
“I’m usually used to creating pieces that are three minutes, max, so creating a 30-minute length of work and telling an entire narrative is entirely new to me.
“Spoken word theatre isn’t a realm I’ve dived into before, but having this experience allows me to go on to do things like one-woman shows. It’s a massive stepping stone.”
With each development in her craft, Anisa says with one hundred percent certainty that she is growing as an artist and as a person. “I call poetry the excavation of self, and with every production, I learn to dig a little deeper.
“I look at some of the first poems I wrote, the metaphors and similes and the way I painted words is quite shallow but through working with different people, I can dig deeper every time, and that allows me to give the world more of myself.”