Wednesday 25 April 2018

Personal - review

Jodee Mundy is the only hearing person in her family. In Personal, she shares stories of her childhood and adulthood and opens up about the pressures she faced being a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) and the frustrations of living in a society that failed to recognise the needs of Deaf people.

Mundy appears on stage with six large grey cubes scattered behind her, reminiscent of toys a child has not bothered to put away. She speaks to the audience verbally and through Auslan, sometimes using both, sometimes only using one of these languages. This means there are moments during the show where some people are unable understand what is being said but are still able to easily infer the information being imparted through her facial expressions and body language. In some ways, by separating us, Mundy shows that we are more alike than we think.

Skype conversations and interviews with family members and archival footage of Mundy growing up are used in the performance to tell this story. In one instance, she plays the video of a school interview she took part in with her schoolteacher about growing up in a Deaf family. Mundy's teacher asks her how her brothers go to school, to which she matter of factly replies that they walk, gently highlighting the stigma and ignorance Deaf people experienced in the eighties. She also looks at the role she played in her family as an interpreter, and the responsibility that was put upon five year old Mundy in needing to make all the phone calls in her family because there were no services available to Deaf people back then to make these calls themselves.

The footage that is played in Personal is projected onto the grey cubes, which feels like we are looking through windows into the past and watching someone's family. At the same time, there's a strong sense of the familiar with these videos. We all have them and we've all seen them, but they way they are presented on these makeshift TV screens makes it feel like it's almost our friends and family being displayed.

Through Personal, Mundy creates an intimacy and honesty with her audience as she eloquently expresses what it was like growing up bilingual and bicultural. By highlighting the differences between these two worlds, she brings them together in an extremely touching performance, which leaves the audience considering what dis/ability actually is, and how we choose to see this in other people.

Click here for my interview with Jodee Mundy 

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St., North Melbourne
Season:  until 29 April | Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc | $25 Student
Bookings: Arts House

Photo Credit: Bryony Jackson 

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