Chloe-Rose Taylor and Natasha Veselinovic, performers and show creators, Lesbian Love Stories
We might all be into different things, but we all understand the awkward first-date feeling, or being cheated on, or even the fear of bringing someone home that your parents might not approve of ...
Love is a near-universal feeling – it can be a visceral and heart-wrenching force or a nurturing and nourishing one, but everyone experiences it a little bit differently. The Local Lesbians are no strangers to love – they’ve even used it as the basis for their new verbatim theatre and cabaret show Lesbian Love Stories, which is taking centre stage at Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday May 22 as part of the MELT Festival program. The show, which looks to broaden the scope of representation for queer females in the arts, conveys honest experiences and anecdotes shared by women from across the globe – all set to a rockin’ musical accompaniment. It’s shaping up to be a touching, heartwarming and must-see evening of musical theatre. We caught up with two-thirds of The Local Lesbians, Chloe-Rose Taylor and Natasha Veselinovic, to talk about the power of love, queer representation in the arts and bucking stereotypes.
To start, we’d love to know what sparked both of your passions for musical theatre! What were some of the formative inspirations that inspired you to follow a career in the performing arts?
Natasha: The first time I really got a chance to do music was in grade eight – we put on a class production of The Man of Steel, where I was cast as the villain (take from that what you will!). I always secretly loved singing, but was never brave enough to give it a good go until that point – I haven’t looked back since.
Chloe: I started dancing when I was three years old, so performing was always a part of my life from a young age. I had amazing teachers along the way that really shaped me and inspired me to continue to follow my dreams of a career in the performing arts.
We’d love to know more about the formation of your production company The Local Lesbians – can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it and the creative ethos that drives it?
Natasha: We initially started The Local Lesbians as a way to add a ticket price to a Facebook event! Apparently you can’t do that unless you have a creative page, which still doesn’t make much sense to me, but it was honestly a bit of a fluke. Chloe and I were tired of waiting for performance opportunities, so decided to create our own. We’ve since realised that TLL is a chance for us to represent our community in a honest and open way, and share stories that might not otherwise be heard.
The Local Lesbians trio is comprised of you both and musical theatre performer and instrumentalist Ruby Clark.What would you say are your respective creative strengths and how do your ideas, tastes and talents complement and intersect?
Chloe: Well, we are very good friends, so the onstage chemistry and banter is always a hoot. The three of us are all strong vocalists that graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Theatre from the Queensland Conservatorium, so we have had the same training but possess very different sounds, which provides a lot of colour. Tash drives a lot of the sarcasm, I’m probably the silliest, and Ruby gets away with saying whatever she likes – so there’s definitely something for everyone.
We’re so excited for your new show Lesbian Love Stories, which is featuring in this year’s MELT: A Festival of Queer Arts and Culture program. From our understanding, the show looks to broaden the scope of conversation surrounding love and the queer female experience by featuring a diverse range of voices. What inspired you to create the show, originally?
Natasha: We were initially just looking for a performance outlet. Chloe and I had performed An Old Fashioned Love Story from the Wild Party a fair few times. We thought we’d use it as a springboard because it tells the story of a woman looking for lady love in a comedic way, which was super important to us. I think representation of the queer female experience is reasonably limited. There seems to be very little space between the ‘sexy lesbian’, and the angry ‘bull dyke’, so we really wanted to include as any voices as we could to close the gap a little.
The notion of love is something that is both universal and incredibly nuanced based on personal experiences. What inspired you to use love stories as the show’s key thematic device?
Chloe: Actually, it was Natasha’s idea. Love is something that unites us all, regardless of gender, age and sexual orientation. It was important for us to make people really realise that. We might all be into different things, but we all understand the awkward first-date feeling, or being cheated on, or even the fear of bringing someone home that your parents might not approve of!
Did the process of collating these tales offer any particularly poignant revelations that changed or informed your own perception of love, its power and what it means to others?
Natasha: I think the biggest thing for me is the idea of choice. There’s a story in the show that highlights how much easier it is to fake straight, and that really struck a note for me. Choice is a biggie, and choosing the one you love can sometimes be way harder than it should be.
Chloe: People think that’s it’s easy for us now because same-sex marriage has been legalised, which definitely is a win, but there is still a long way to go. A woman who interviewed us for the last show we did, said the exact words “Oh yeah, but it’s easy for you guys now” and “Just so you know. I’m not into girls”. Face palm! The way that interviewer responded to us just reinforced why this show is important and needs to be shared.
What was the biggest challenge in taking these stories and giving them a new life in a musical theatre/cabaret context?
Chloe: We received a lot of stories that were very similar, which was great, but presented us with the challenge of finding light and shade in the piece. It was important that we covered a variety of experiences, because the last thing we wanted to do was bash the audience and be classed as ‘the angry lesbians’.
The show was originally intended as a one-off, but feedback from audiences and other LGBTIQA+ members prompted you to grow the idea and take it further. How would you say the show has evolved since its first performance?
Natasha: The new updated version has all the great goodies from the original, but we’ve added some amazing new stories from some nearby locals and others from the United States. We’ve got some killer new songs and asked the incredibly talented Neil Rutherford to write us a new arrangement and it is amazing! Trust me, you’ll want to see the show just for this alone.
Aside from having a great time, what do you hope audiences take away from the Lesbian Love Stories experience?
Chloe: Hopefully a bit more of an understanding about the queer female experience, which might help to break any preconceived ideas and labels.
Natasha: What she said. Also, we’re totally available for gigs.’