'Soul-searching, and bracingly honest'
— Limelight
'Packs a complex emotional punch'
— ArtsHub
'Profound and profoundly funny'
— Time Out

Join an odyssey of self-discovery and liberation. Actor, dancer, and writer, Joel Bray invites you to an intimate exploration of his secret queer identity within the confines of a 1990s Pentecostal Church.

Partake in a shared ritual that immerses you in the transformative power of music, movement, and collective ritual. From the humble church halls to the vibrant disco dance floors, Homo Pentecostus peels back layers of conflicting allure and hidden shame to illuminate our quest to embrace our true selves. 

Awaken your spirit. Shake up your perceptions. Homo Pentecostus is an ecstatic testament to resilience, love, and the pursuit of personal truth.

 

LEAD ARTIST'S NOTE

In the late 19th Century, John Stuart Mill coined the term Homo Economicus to describe an imagined perfectly rational person. At the same time, the seeds of Pentecostalism were being laid by the industrious Wesleyans who believed that one needn’t wait for Heaven to be perfect; rather one can attain spiritual sanctification here on Earth.

The Pentecostal Movement distinguishes itself from other Christian faiths with this emphasis on the Holy Spirit ‘corner’ of the Holy Trinity. The world is seen through a Spiritual prism: an epic, ongoing battle between angelic and demonic forces. Pentecostalism and Capitalism have developed hand-in-hand ever since and the two have fused in the phenomenon of the Megachurch, the global paragon of which we have here in Australia: Hillsong.

The Pentecostal Church is also profoundly homophobic. Many young Queers have been subjected to ‘faith healing’, basically conversion therapy in ‘spiritual camouflage’. And I was one of them. In fact I was a passionate ‘Hillsonger’. Until I suddenly wasn’t. I left the Church, closed that book and never looked back.

Until now.

 

 

Making this work has been revelatory, and it’s been healing. One of the many surprises has been how much Pentecostal aesthetics, and ways of being, moving and communicating are coded into my very DNA. I am, in so many ways, a Homo Pentecostus.

I’ve had two extraordinary fellow pilgrims on this ‘Road to Damascus’: co-director Emma Valente and co-performer Peter Paltos. Peter has been unerringly generous in sharing his, and his family’s, story and his continued keen spirituality has been very present in the room and has caused us all to handle this material with a greater sensitivity. The resulting work is far more nuanced thanks to him. He’s also hilarious and the process has been a very Queer delight.

Emma is one of my absolute favourite theatremakers, and it’s been a joy to peek behind the curtain and witness the brilliance up close. Her capacity to hold vast amounts of data and to continually nudge our sprawling tangle of materials into a clear almost narrative has been quite breathtaking to witness. It has allowed me to be my full chaotic self and head down creative tangents, safe in the knowledge that she is grabbing anything useful. It has been an absolute joy.

The three of us wrote Homo Pentecostus through interviewing each other, recording and re-learning. The resulting work is a conversation between two Queer men discovering each other, their shared experiences of religion and culture and, just as importantly, their differences. So this work is woven from our own autobiographies, yet it is also fictionalised and incomplete.

 

 

I want to thank and honour my family and my Mother especially. No one knew that they were, unwittingly, writing a career’s worth of contemporary performance when they were raising (and being raised alongside) me. So Peter and I want to thank our parents and our siblings for their patience, love and generosity in allowing me to tell our shared stories - warts and all.

Homo Pentecostus, has been made by a village. Kate Davis, Marco Cher-Gibbard, Jess Keepence and Katie Sfetkidis have all brought, not just their own unique skill sets, but have been co-theatremakers in the room. I am profoundly grateful to you all for this strange, beautiful world we have crafted together.

I also want to thank all the artists and Queer folk who shared their stories with me in the early days of researching this work, in particular Rachel Coulson and Andrew Trelour. Thanks to  Jacinta Anderson and Alice Darling. A big ‘Mandang Guwu’ to my chosen family up in Wagga-Wagga: to Juanita Hemmings for the kangaroo-skin kilt and to Aunties Cheryl Penrith and Jacky Ingram for the cultural care and oversight.

Thank-you to Matt Lutton and all the team at The Malthouse for letting this nutty Blackfella choreographer take one of your stages, for saying "just go for it” and then for supporting me and the team the whole way through. And a huge thank-you to Veronica Bolzon, the second half of Joel Bray Dance. You’re my partner in crime and I couldn’t do any of this without you.

Finally, thank-you to Chris Cheers. I love you, Baby.

 

- Joel Bray

 

 

ACCESS PACK

 

 

Key Image: Kristian Gehradte

Video: Einwick

Production Images: Gianna Rizzo

Joel Bray Headshot

Co-Creator, Writer, Co-Director & Cast /

Joel Bray

Emma Valente Headshot

Co-Creator & Co-Director /

Emma Valente

Peter Paltos Headshot

Co-Creator & Cast /

Peter Paltos

Kate Davis Headshot

Set & Costume Designer /

Kate Davis

Katie Sfetkidis Headshot

Lighting Designer /

Katie Sfetkidis

Marco Cher-Gibard Headshot

Composer & Sound Designer /

Marco Cher-Gibard

Spencer Herd Headshot

Associate Lighting Designer

Spencer Herd

Justin Gardam Headshot

Associate Sound Designer /

Justin Gardam

Jess Keepence Headshot

Stage Manager /

Jess Keepence

BESEN PLACEMENT ARTIST PROGRAM RECIPIENT (DIRECTING) /

Alice Darling

Event & ticketing details

Performance Times

PREVIEWS /
7pm, Fri 10 May
7pm, Sat 11 May
7pm, Mon 13 May
7pm, Tue 14 May
OPENING NIGHT /
7pm, Wed 15 May
IN SEASON /
7pm, Mon – Sun
TIME TO TALK /
7pm, Tue 21 May

Duration

Approx. 75 minutes (no interval)

Content notes

This show contains frequent coarse language and derogatory language, explicit discussions and depictions of religion and spirituality, homophobia and homophobic slurs, explicit sexual references, explicit nudity and pornography, discussions of genocide and imperialism, low level audience interaction. The production also includes smoke effects, flashing lights and loud dynamic sounds.

FREQUENT COARSE AND DEROGATORY LANGUAGE

The following coarse language is used frequently throughout the show: 

Fuck, Fucking, Shit, Asshole

The following derogatory terms and coarse language are used on occasion throughout the show: 

Faggot, Poof 

 
EXPLICIT DISCUSSIONS AND DEPICTIONS OF RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

The core of the work explores the oppression of Joel and Peter’s homosexuality whilst growing up in the Pentecostal and Orthodox Christian churches. There are explicit discussions around religion, blasphemy, sin, faith, atheism, and spiritual experiences. The performers express different perspectives and theatrical interpretations based on their lived experiences and beliefs. 

There are also depictions of faith-based rituals, practices and gestures including but not limited to: 

Praying (including praying over another individual), Praise and worship, Blessing of others, Speaking in tongues, Exorcism

 

HOMOPHOBIA AND HOMOPHOBIC SLURS

The core of the work explores the oppression of Joel and Peter’s homosexuality whilst growing up in the Pentecostal and Orthodox Christian churches. Throughout the work are multiple descriptions of homophobic lived experiences including but not limited to: 

Conversion Therapy, Parental rejection after coming out, Equating homosexuality with being a demon, Attempted exorcisms

The following homophobic slurs are used in the work:

Faggot, Poof

 

EXPLICIT SEXUAL REFERENCES

Explicit discussions and references regarding sexuality, sexual encounters, pornography, STDs, sexual assault, underage sex between an adult and a minor and questionable consent. The performance includes accounts of the performers’ first sexual experiences as well as their fantasies including but not limited to sexual relations with a religious leader.

 

EXPLICIT NUDITY AND PORNOGRAPHY

In the show, there is full frontal nudity of a performer for a sustained period. Full male genitalia is visible to all audience members.
A pornography magazine is used as a prop in the show. Explicit images of penetrative sex between males are visible to all audience members.

 

DISCUSSIONS OF GENOCIDE AND IMPERIALISM

The performers discuss the genocide of the Armenian peoples as well as the genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. These discussions are based on the performer’s own heritages and ancestral histories.   
There is mention of the violent branding of a crucifix onto Peter’s relative during the Armenian genocide. 

There is also discussion of Christianity throughout history playing a role in the erasure of First Nations language, ceremonies, songs and dances.

 

AUDIENCE INTERACTION

Low level audience interaction in the form of a call and response, and a sing-a-long framed as a praise and worship session.

 
PRODUCTION WARNINGS

Smoke effects, Flashing lights, Loud dynamic sound

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