Using live performance and film footage,
It might seem like an odd premise for a theatre piece, but Melody's performance work has always been rooted in real - and often idiosyncratic - people and situations, her primary interest being "the funny things we do as humans". Trained as a fine artist, she crossed over into theatre with Northern Soul, a one-woman show recounting her adventures in pigeon fancying and northern soul dancing. What is it that makes her embed herself among such clusters of idiosyncrasy, throwing herself headlong into their worlds and then shining a light on them? "Curiosity," she says. "Which is quite a nice word for being nosy."
And so did everyone else. Melody often found the dog shows surprisingly hostile: following a string of losses, one judge told her she'd be better off investing in a new dog. By contrast, she was pleasantly surprised by the warmth shown by her fellow beauty contestants, contradicting stereotypes. "There was no bitchiness, no backstabbing, no dresses going missing - none of that."
Melody likes to embed herself as fully as possible in the worlds she investigates, developing real and meaningful relationships along the way. Humour is a vital tool. "I'm able to make the work that I do because I'm quite funny and down to earth," she says. "I think I endear myself to people. I put them at their ease: they believe I won't exploit them."
Although Melody and Major were there to be judged, she is determined not to pass judgment herself. She describes
Melody's shows often leave the audience wondering about the extent to which they are authentic. Although she insists that the stories she tells in
The process is demanding and frequently takes over her life. But when it does so, Melody sees it as a good sign: it suggests that she's on the path to something promising. "When it gets to the stage of me not knowing if I'm doing this for my research or for my life, that's when I know a project's progressing. One of the interesting things, for me, is that intersection between art and real life."
She reaches for a comparison and plumps for Fountain, the famous conceptual work by
'Soon I wanted to win everything' . . . Melody and
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