Report by Joseph Cederwall
Dominic Hoey’s one-man show Your Heart Looks Like a Vagina is a dark comedy about the joys of living with autoimmune disease.
This one man show will bring together Dominic Hoey’s long career as a performance poet and writer and the experimental theatre experience of director Nisha Madhan into the tale of Dominic’s real life journey from developing Ankylosing Spondylitis (a rare form of arthritis) while overseas, coming home to New Zealand to be bedridden for six months, navigating the bureaucracy of the healthcare and welfare system, and the struggle to regain control of his life, all the while continuing to pursue his career as a poet, rapper, musician, filmmaker, author, political provocateur and arts mentor.
As much as this is a story of Dominic’s life, the show will also look to raise awareness around Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare form of arthritis that fuses together the spine and effects thousands of New Zealanders, and raise questions around the inherent issues within the healthcare system in New Zealand to support people suffering chronic illnesses This play explores the harsh realities of living with a chronic illness, the absurdities and politics of the healthcare and welfare system, and the dogged determination needed to make it as an artist in New Zealand. And it’ll be funny too.
As Hoey says:
“It’s basically about getting sick with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis or AS, losing everything in my life and getting it back again. But its kind of funny at the same time, because even while the situation was going on, and it was quite scary and heart breaking, it was funny. It was just so ridiculous; having the doctor say I was fine when I couldn’t even walk, or the case officer at WINZ saying I should just get a job using a cash register. So even while it was going on I was thinking this is good material and taking notes, so when it came time to write the play I had a lot of inspiration.”
Dominic Hoey has long performed under the moniker ‘Tourettes’ as a performance poet, rapper and now author and after the sell out debut season of ‘Your Heart Looks Like A Vagina’ this show will be a further development of his new work in the world of theatre. He has previously released five studio albums to critical acclaim, has performed and has been published all over the world and his debut novel ‘Iceland’ is currently on the long list for the fiction novel of the year in the New Zealand Book Awards .
On “Your Heart Looks Like a Vagina’, Dominic says:
“I wanted to do a theatre show to bring together all the skills I have learnt performing around the world as both a rapper and poet and acquire some new ones. It’s also important to me to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases and try and get rid of a lot of the stigma around them.”
Director Nisha Madhan is the artistic director of theatre company The Town Centre and has continued her extensive work in experimental theatre last year with her direction of ‘Power Ballad’, winner of best show in the 2017 Auckland Fringe Festival and nominated for the TOTAL Theatre Award at Edinburgh Fringe. Nisha will be bringing her extensive knowledge and practise of experimental theatre to challenge Dominic to perform a show unlike any of his others. Particularly her interest in the audience experience will be brought to the fore in the development of Dominic’s performance.
Dominic will be joined on stage by lighting designer and operator Ruby Reihana-Wilson, who is very familiar with the tribulations of navigating the healthcare system and suffers from a similar condition to Dominic. Normally a hero behind the scenes, Ruby will be front and centre and a big part of this story.
The play sold out its five-night run at Auckland’s Basement Theatre last year and also ran at Brisbane Poetry Festival and Lit Crawl Festival in Wellington. Luckily for audiences who missed the first season, the show returns to Basement Theatre in Auckland next week, and tours to Bats in Wellington the week after.
Your Heart Looks Like a Vagina runs from 17-21 April at Bats Theatre.
Tickets available here  for the Bats season.