Demolition – Fierce Femme Tradies Rebuild The World

'Demolition' 'Demolition' Image © Joel Devereux

'Demolition' takes a jackhammer to the patriarchy, as part of Brisbane Festival.


From creators/writers Lisa Fa'alafi and Leah Shelton (Polytoxic), 'Demolition' explodes with cabaret, theatre, and social activism, on a mission to reconstruct a world which is in a bad way – let's face it, it needs a fresh coat of paint.

With a cast of eight performers hellbent on entertaining and awakening its audience, 'Demolition' is set to feature killer physical feats and daring aerials and antics.

To find out more about just what else we could possibly expect from 'Demolition', we spoke with creators and writers Lisa and Leah. Lisa is a Co-Director of Polytoxic and has received Helpmann, Sydney Theatre and Green Room Awards, among others. Leah is also a Co-Director of Polytoxic and has played on and off West End in London and toured to festivals locally and internationally.

What’s this show about?!
'Demolition' is a brute force explosion of cabaret, theatre and social activism set to rebuild the world from the ashes up. Think construction site meets protest party – where everyone is invited to join the demo crew. We have assembled a tradie crew of fierce femmes, each serving up their own unique style – there will be hardcore boxing, breathtaking aerials, epic vocals, rap, hoops, street dance, pole dance, contemporary dance, lip-sync, drag, and a whole lot of dismantling the system.

As creators/writers of the show. . . What were your intentions starting off?
Starting off, we wanted to create a work that was a wild reclamation of space and an exploration of the invisible safety work that so many femme and minority people undertake on the daily (that feeling of walking home alone at night with keys in one hand, phone in the other; of being catcalled; of taking the long way home; of smiling and being nice when you just want to punch someone in the face). As artists/activists, we wanted to question this system that makes us feel unsafe – to fire up the blowtorch so a new paradigm can rise from the ashes. One where women, femmes, non-binary, trans, marginalised people can enjoy safety too.

Do you think from the conception to now, you have crafted the show you set out to craft? Or have things changed/evolved since you began?
This time of chaos and uncertainty has definitely influenced the direction our work has taken. We are in a time where people everywhere are screaming 'enough is enough'. We want to add our voices to this throng and share our diverse perspectives, stories and experiences. We also want to dare to imagine the future we know we want – a brave, new post-pandemic world that is inclusive, intersectional and multi-layered.

What’s something you’ve learned putting it together?
We’ve learned a whole lot about tradie lingo, construction tools, and the fact that hi-vis workwear is damn comfortable to wear!

DEMOLITION 2021 2
Image © Joel Devereux

Lisa, what are you hoping audiences take away from ‘Demolition’?
We want our audience to feel fired up to make change, to use their voices to call out unsafe behaviour, to stand up for inequality, to build a new normal that listens both to the world's First Nations people and the needs of our planet. Sounds big, we know, but in a global pandemic where the paradigm is shifting, what better time is there to burn the old system down!

And Leah, what’s been your favourite part of the creation process?
I have loved every minute of working with our powerhouse team of creatives. I am constantly in awe of every single person in this show! From earth-moving vocals to gravity-defying aerials to powerlifting strongwomen – this cast will slay you with their talent!

Why do you think the show belongs within the Brisbane Festival programme?
Festival Director Louise Bezzina has curated an incredible programme this year, founded on diversity, storytelling, community, art, protest and celebration. Which is just what our show is about – throwing a party to reimagine the future we know we want!

What is a show you’re each most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
'The Alexander Ball'!!! It is going to be a killer night – the House Of Alexander are awe-inspiring icons and we cannot wait to see what they put together for this party! We are also so excited for the next level multidisciplinary fashion show 'First Nations Fashion: Walking In Two Worlds'. It looks incredible so everyone should grab a ticket now!

Describe ‘Demolition’ with a song lyric of each of your choosing!
Leah: I think I’ll have to go with 'Rebel Girl'! (“Rebel girl you are the queen of my world / Rebel girl I think I wanna take you home, I wanna try on your clothes”) – we do an epic boxing routine in the show to this song and I think it personifies the combination of anger and social change that we are all about.
Lisa: “Burn it down and watch it grow, cause Polytoxic says so”. Hope this earworm of a lyric stays with our audience as they dance out of the theatre.

'Demolition' plays Brisbane Powerhouse (Brisbane Festival) 4-11 September.

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