Betty Grumble Is Creating New Life Out Of Pain

  • Written by  Courtney Norton
  • Friday, 02 July 2021 15:41
Published in Arts  
Betty Grumble's 'Enemies Of Grooviness Eat Sh!t' takes place as part of Vivid Sydney. Betty Grumble's 'Enemies Of Grooviness Eat Sh!t' takes place as part of Vivid Sydney.
Update - 15 July, 2021: The NSW Government has announced Vivid Sydney will be rescheduled to 17 September to 9 October, 2021, in the interest of community health and safety. Full details of the revised Vivid Sydney 2021 programne will be available online in the coming weeks as venues and event owners finalise logistics.


Every year Vivid Sydney lights up the Harbour City with myriad of bright and bold ideas that culminate into a delightfully assorted festival showcasing Sydney's diversity, resilience, Aboriginal culture and creative community.

Performance artist Emma Maye Gibson, otherwise known by her onstage alter ego Betty Grumble, will be bringing her show 'Enemies Of Grooviness Eat Sh!t' as part of the music programme of Vivid Sydney.

To be joined by an extensive line-up of DJs as well as TEMPER and NECTAR, she is looking forward to being a part of such a diverse line-up.

"There's a lot of underground practitioners being celebrated just in the music section which I myself, am in," Emma Maye says.

"There's some really hot stuff happening at The Bearded Tit with Queer Icons; I'm really excited to be a part of such an eclectic and, really, a line-up that represents what Sydney is about, which is all about all of these different voices and communities getting together and celebrating."



She explains that "groovier" people are becoming involved in the organisation of festivals like Vivid Sydney with an awareness these events should "reflect the culture of the city that we're in".

"Even though we deal with a really conservative government, we've got really pumping wild communities that are really resilient and have a lot to say. I'm excited to see that reflected in Vivid Sydney. It's going to be a great one."

Betty's 'Enemies Of Grooviness Eat Sh!t' takes audiences on an exploration of pleasure, grief and justice; but she emphasises she doesn't want the show to be seen as an assassination attempt.

"I talk about dealing with my own rage and injustice, but also I want to see a world and a community landscape where both victims and perpetrators are able to undo the things in society that keep perpetuating these cycles of violence and that extends to intimate relationships, the relationships we have with each other and the earth.

"I'm trying to expand in quite a psychedelic way, my personal experience out to a greater issue of how we are as humanoids. It's not a finished work. It really is an ongoing offering."

One of the main focuses of her show is the idea of bringing truth to the surface and diversifying the ways in which we speak about the troubles we face. During the show, Betty draws on her own experience of being a woman cast as the "hysterical, crazy figure" and says this is not something new.

"Reflecting specifically on experience within the justice system, I did get called a 'scorned woman out for revenge' just by trying to be like 'hey, this isn't acceptable' – to sort of offer another narrative. That sort of thing has been going on for thousands of years. The figure of the hysterical woman. The witch. The bitch."

Betty wants to turn this narrative on its head and reclaim power back from the idea there's only one way to do things. "Our feelings are messy and valuable, and that we can actually be with our emotions in a way where we can shake out the sensations.

"We don't have to hold close and tight, and press them deep down inside of ourselves. We can churn them and compost them, and even create new life out of them, out of pain."



This same reclamation of power and the creation of new life out of pain also extends to feelings of grief, including the global grief experienced as a result of the pandemic.

"I talk about this inter-partner violence experience, all my experience with the patriarchy and I also, in tandem, talk about losing my best friend to cancer and the grief of loving her and her not being here anymore.

"We're all experiencing a manifestation of collective grief, but I think it's bringing to the surface all of our griefs about lots of different things.

"I feel excited about being able to present a show that offers a space for people to have that shared experience and I think it's important that we make space for just being able to feel, even if you can't name the feeling.

"Just being able to sit and be allowed to laugh or cry or just shake. I really like to challenge the idea of what a performance can be."

Her own journey of magical, spiritual self-discovery she has found through performance is something that has piqued her interest in the real acts happening on stage, plenty of which will be on display as part of Vivid Sydney.

"I remember somebody quite genius said to me once that to be onstage is to follow your pleasure and if you're following your pleasure then they will feel the pleasure.

"My advice would be to pursue your pleasure on stage, pursue that self-discovery in real time because real, beautiful things emerge."

The emergence of these beautiful things, Betty explains are then transmitted to the audience which creates a third space of healing between the performer and the audience.

"That's a thing that we do together in the room. I do a show. The audience comes to see it, but there's something that we do together and that's why it's different every time, that's why there's nothing like a live performance because it's so magic in that way."



Betty lovingly describes ‘Enemies Of Grooviness Eat Sh!t' as an "offering for everyone" and says it aims to make "medicine with our art" and use the paradoxes of joy and tragedy to find community within.

"I'm trying to provide a space for being with the trouble in a cathartic, combustive and riotous way. To talk back to the idea that we should bury things, that things have to stay in the shadows.

"I'm really interested in purifying things in the light. It is my personal story and I feel very very privileged that I get to share it this way."

Betty Grumble's 'Enemies Of Grooviness Eat Sh!t' takes place as part of Vivid Sydney 2021, which has been rescheduled to 17 September to 9 October due to the ongoing lockdown affecting the Greater Sydney area; and The Princess Theatre (Brisbane) 15-17 September.

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