Wednesday 7 March 2018

I Am Not A Unicorn! - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

In Emma J Hawkins' whimsical comedy show, I Am Not A Unicorn! you can expect to come across trolls destroying the world, be educated on the delicate art of eating bananas and how to find love in the local supermarket. While some of this may seem strange or peculiar, the heart of the show rests with Hawkins opening up and illustrating what life at 103cm short is like.

"The name of the show came from the fact that often people do look at me like I'm a unicorn walking down the street. Being a short statured person, I do stand out from the 'normal'," Hawkins explains. "I still get stared at and overhear comments in the street as I go about my daily life and in a way I can understand the gaze. I am pretty different and most people will not have seen a short statured person in their life. I think it's more about how you take those things on board and as I got older I've been able to be comfortable in my own skin. However, being the butt of an unknown joke is not very fun. Peter Dinklage talks about us (short statured people) being the last bastions of acceptable prejudice." 

"Making this show was a way for me to take creative control of this notion, ok if I am funny, then why am I funny? So this show is a satirical look at my life, defying stereotypes, talking about what it is to be 'normal' and 'average' in this life and questioning if any of us really want to be that?" She says. "In the show I play some quirky characters including the fairy-tale character, the wicked queen, John the train driver who is looking for love in IGA and the horned beast makes a special guest appearance too."

Hawkin's has been fine-tuning her show since its premiere at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2015 and later season at Adelaide Fringe in 2016. "It's always good to do a home return season for all those people who missed it last time. I'm the type of performer who likes to polish the show each time I perform it, and my life as a person and artist has developed so that will be reflected in the show. It will either be bigger and better or perhaps more like a good red wine jus, refined and potent!"

While Hawkins has been working on I Am Not A Unicorn! (and running her own bookkeeping service for creatives called Small Fortunes), she also appeared in Malthouse Theatre's The Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man, noted for casting people with disabilities in main stage roles. "This was an extraordinary piece of theatre to be involved with and it has been nominated for numerous Green Room awards this year. It was a great moment to have the main character, being someone with a disability, actually being played by someone with a disability," Hawkins recalls. "We have a saying in our world: 'nothing about us without us'."

"Daniel Monks did an amazing job of giving this iconic person the human touch and voice alongside the fabulous cast of Julie Forsyth, Sophie Ross, Paula Arundell and the Malthouse team. They have forged ahead in giving stage time to artists with a disability in mainstream theatre, and may there be more of it! Diversity and inclusion is discussed frequently in the media at the moment so I feel like there is a change in the wind. We deserve fair representation in all walks of life, whether that be on stage or not."

Being on stage is something Hawkins relishes and the more opportunities she has to do so, the happier she is. "I love putting on different hats, and being able to immerse myself in the world of someone else. Figuring out who they are, where they came from, how their body work, how they speak..." Hawkins tells me. "However it is slightly different with I Am Not A Unicorn! as this is reflective of my own life so I'm in a more vulnerable position. I think being on stage has been where I have felt most at home and an equal, I feel like I stand on even ground next to the other performers." 


1. My favourite board game is Scrabble because I enjoy word play. 

2. Which movie would you like to see turned into a musical and why?
The NeverEnding Story as it's such a childhood favourite of mine.

3. Which one person would you love to come to your show and why?
Stella Young, she was a great friend of mine who missed out on seeing the show sadly before she passed away.  We miss her terribly and she was an amazing comedian!! 

4. I will try to keep sane during MICF by walking the dog, coffee and not checking my tickets sales every 5 minutes (this one will be difficult!).

5. Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because I was probably trying to eat it - I'm a foodie, chicken is one of my favourites!



Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: 31 March, 7, 14, 21 April | Sat 5.30pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $28.50 Full |
$23.50 Conc

Bookings: MICF website

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