In advance of Lady Sings it Better’s creative wedding, birthday, anniversary, what-have-you, I wrote ‘A marriage made in business’ for ArtsHub about the different relationships we have in our lives and the ways we do (and don’t) celebrate them. The basic message is ‘buy me a toaster / bros before hos / being an emerging artist is hard’, but I said it better than that, so read the whole thing:
I am never getting married. I wouldn’t get married, even if getting gay-married were legal. I’ve been with my partner for nearly two years now and I am fairly sure I’ll stay with her for a very long time. She’s honest, beautiful, funny, thoughtful, clever, open-minded, and she makes really good toast. But I am completely uninterested in a ceremony that celebrates my romantic relationship. I don’t want to talk about my very personal feelings in front of a room full of people and I don’t want to promise to be with her forever and sign a (non-binding) contract that says as much. Nope. No thanks. Not for me.
I am, however, celebrating the longest relationship I’ve ever had, with my business partner, Phoebe Meredith. It’s now five years since Phoebe and I decided to embark on a creative relationship, producing our little cabaret-singing, feminist musical comedy troupe, Lady Sings it Better. We’ve scheduled a birthday gig as part of Sydney Fringe Festival and I am trying to find the right words to explain to my friends and family that, despite the lack of white dresses and cocktails in jars, this is my wedding.
I’m concerned people will think it a bit ridiculous to compare a 5th birthday concert to a wedding, but this company really has been a labour of love for Phoebe and I. We’ve had highs, lows, moments where we considered calling it quits, late nights of passion(ate singing) and a lot of laughs. This next gig is a milestone for me, where our little independent fringe act comes of age, and being an artist turns into a lifetime commitment, instead of a fling.
I’ve dedicated as much time and energy, patience and consideration to being an independent artist as many do to their romantic relationships. As a society, we tend to hold up romantic partnerships as the most important relationship a person can have. But, in doing so, we devalue the challenges and joys of our friendships and professional collaborations, which are often more plentiful, more peaceful and more enduring.
My friends and loved ones have been wildly supportive of my creative exploits. Any artist will tell you that they couldn’t have made it without all their pals turning up to that first gig. Before we could afford to market our shows – and before we were actually worthy of an audience – they were the ones to come along, offer feedback, cheer loudly and help us on our way, just like your friends might coach you through dating a new lover or provide advice during rough times. But I am nervous about inviting them to my ‘creative wedding’ lest they are offended by the comparison, or they ridicule and dismiss it.
I asked around to see if other unmarried friends or fellow artists had celebrated milestones they would happily equate with a wedding.
‘I’m about four years off this, but I imagine submitting a PhD thesis is gonna feel pretty milestoney,’ said Shannon. In a similar vein, Catriona answered briefly with ‘Submitting my PhD on Sunday. That.’
Several friends – comedians, musicians and actors – cited their first ‘one-woman show’ or first book deal as something they might have liked to mark with a massive party.
‘Buying a house, first one-woman show, published novel, learning to ski at 42, running 10km for the first time at 39, and surviving major depression without medication when my relationship with my son’s father broke down,’ said Catherine Deveny.
If Catherine had a wife or husband for every milestone she listed, she’d be the Henry VIII of independent creatives. For a more up-to-date cultural reference, consider the fact that my cabaret act has been performing together 8.5 times longer than Kim Kardashian‘s second marriage.
So, where’s my white dress? I can tell you now, the only gift we’re registering for are show tickets, which, at a cool $40 are way cheaper than the kind of cookware I’d register for if you let me loose in David Jones with one of those barcode guns!
Incidentally, my business partner, Phoebe, is getting legally married in December. I think her actual wedding will cost about half of our Edinburgh Fringe touring budget so my artistic relationship is more expensive than a wedding, too.
Unlike a wedding, though, everyone is invited to help us celebrate this milestone in our creative romance (on 4 October at The Factory Theatre). There won’t be any lengthy speeches, drunk uncles or dodgy DJs, just ‘comic cabaret gold’ if our reviewers are to be trusted. If you don’t want to come to my wedding, that’s fine, but do try to keep an open mind when your (deliberately) unmarried friends and loved ones invite you to celebrate the major milestones in their lives. And if you’re an artist, feel free to repurpose this article for your own creative celebrations. Everyone deserves the chance to be the bride!
The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville