Winner of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Best Emerging Writer Award, Telia Nevile was invited to devise and curate an event for Emerging Writers’ Festival – which is how we’ve got the highly-anticipated “debate” (brawl) over technology and language, Sticks and Stones, to look forward to. A writer, performer, and photographer, Telia spoke to us about giving it everything on stage, her love of archaic language, and what she’s got in store.
You won the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Best Emerging Writer Award for your show Poet vs Pageant last year, congrats! Tell us about the show, will it make a comeback for anyone who missed it?
Thanks! Writing an epic poem was the most ludicrously ambitious thing I could think of doing and it was terrifying, but hugely rewarding. Earlier this year I had a critically-acclaimed season at the 2016 Adelaide Fringe, and I’ll be performing Poet Vs Pageant next at the 2017 Castlemaine Festival. After that, I’m hoping to take the show to Canada – they have a wonderful poetry and story-telling tradition there and I can’t wait to see what they think.
Sticks and Stones is your brainchild, and we are eternally grateful for your genius. What do you expect to see from this event about technology and language?
I’m expecting a no-holds-barred, knock-down-drag-out clash between two passionate teams who share a love of language, even as they attempt to use it to disembowel each other’s arguments. My fellow performers are intimidatingly talented, so I’m expecting an incredible night that’s funny and invigorating, and that sends you home just itching to wallow in the warm embrace of expression.
Do you think irl language is being destroyed by emojis and internet abbreviations and 140 character theses?
While I know that social media has led to the creation of a whole slew of new words and ways of expressing yourself, and that in the hands of some people a 140-character limit leads to inventiveness rather than just brevity, I cringe every time someone uses a word like LOL in conversation. I’ve always loved archaic language, and English’ capacity for finely-tuned expression, and I think that in some cases internet-speak is leading to devolution rather than evolution – to laziness rather than creativity. Of course, I’m also a curmudgeon who uses a hard-copy diary, pines for the days of analogue cameras, and refuses to get rid of my cassette tapes… So, you know, horses for courses.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve bitten a real fear-bullet lately by starting singing lessons as I’m trying to get out of my head a bit more and back into my body. The ideas for my next show are starting to take shape, so I’m also reading and watching everything I can get my hands on in an effort to really expand the playing field I’m working with. It’s exciting and scary – everything new creation should be.
Do you have any advice for emerging writers who want to get into performing their writing?
I guess the biggest piece of advice I would offer is also one of the hardest ones to take and something that most performers have to work very hard to achieve – don’t be scared or self-conscious, or at least try not to be. When you step onto a stage, the audience wants you to have a good time because it means that they can relax and have a good time too. So take a deep breath and give of yourself generously and whole-heartedly. Don’t be worried about making a fool of yourself – they want you to perform for them, and they want you to succeed. The only way you’ll actually make a fool of yourself is if you’re half-hearted and apologetic about what you’re doing. Give it everything you’ve got – the feeling is spectacular.
Telia Nevile is a writer, performer and photographer who loves long-form language, dance movies and play lists that shift from Jay Z to Megadeth and back again. Her latest solo show, Poet Vs Pageant, won the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Best Emerging Writer award before going on to receive critical acclaim at this year’s Adelaide Fringe. Recent appearances also include the Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2015 Neon Season, the 2014 Sydney Writers’ Festival and the 2014 Indianapolis Fringe. Her ode to 1980s teen movie director John Hughes is published in the Women of Letters compendium ‘Between Us’. Sign up to EWF's eNewsletter!
You can see Telia at her event Sticks and Stones
, battling it out with Gillian Cosgriff, Oscar Schwartz, Emilie Zoey Baker, Michael Nolan, Katie Keys and Lydia Nicholson on 21 June.
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