Triceratop: A Gay Dinosaur Love Story

By Chenoeh Miller

Adam Deusien is one of those sickeningly gorgeous, shiny, multitalented people who bring integrity and humour to everything. Among a list of achievements too numerous to list in full here, Adam was the brains behind Canberra Theatre Centre’s New Works Program, an initiative that pays actual dollary-dos to artists developing new performances – a rarity in Canberra.

He started Lingua Franca, an interdisciplinary performance company, over a decade ago with our very own dance queen Alison Plevey and has worked across Australia as a producer raising the voices of regional communities.

It was a few years ago that I first heard Adam mention this ridiculous idea of a show about a gay dinosaur. At the time, he did the character’s voices for me, and cracked up. It was an undeniably great bit, but the concept of a whole show seemed ambitious and wildly silly.

As it turns out, it’s both of these things. And a whole lot more.

What was the best part of your day today?

My dog Raz sneaks into my bed every morn for a little cuddle and a spoon as he wakes up.

Most inspirational performance that you have seen recently?

Taylor Mac’s Bark of Millions at the Sydney Opera House. A 4-hour long queer rock opera that was unapologetically epic and imaginative.

Seeing queer people proudly taking space to talk to the full gamut of their experience was a spiritual experience. Every artist on that stage was in their power and generously shared it with us. Exquisite!

Now we’re nicely warmed up, onto the play! Triceratop combines elements of the modern queer experience, climate change, and dinosaurs. What inspired you to merge these distinct themes?

As a kid, I was so inspired and excited by dinosaurs – they had this epic, mysterious coolness, but also a silliness (they’re giant lizards!!!). Built into their narrative is a story of extinction and an inability to continue to live with their environment, which obviously has parallels with our world today.

Why have you decided to perform in the show?

I consider myself firstly a director, but I started as a performer, actor, and physical theatre maker, and those skills stay with you.

This work draws on a solo show I did in Bathurst six years ago called Making It Alone, an entirely solitary creative process I performed that explored loneliness in regional and rural Australia.

Triceratop feels like an extension of that. So it feels right to jump in the dino costume and be the one to bring it to life.

Triceratop is described as a blend of comedy and tragedy, addressing themes of extinction, loneliness, and apathy. How do you create a captivating experience for the audience?

I really believe in the power of comedy and entertainment to hold the space for hard conversations.

Queer performance has such a rich history of this – camp can hold comedy and tragedy in the same space to talk about resilience, divergent ways of living, and the power of community, and I’m trying to invoke this extraordinary flavour in the show.

Also, I’m trying to make it fun, silly, and the best kind of stupid possible so that it’s a good night out that makes you think.

Could you share some insights into the creative process and what audiences can expect as you continue to develop the show?

It has been so fun exploring the possibilities of the show! I’m drawing on all the skills in my toolkit to see what’s possible – dance, lipsync, scripted text.

I’ve also been revisiting my musical past to learn a new instrument for some sections of the show. The audience can expect a wild ride of forms that takes them in all different directions! I’m working with Becky Russell, an incredible collaborator, technical wizard, and creative genius to help bring this to life.

Your work is influenced by the likes of Fleabag and Drag Race. In what ways have these influences shaped Triceratop?

It’s part confessional, part diary entry; it’s a reflective wink-to-the-audience style that slams camp and lipsync and comedy and music into the story.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the Q The Locals Program?

Programs like this are so important, particularly in regional areas.

I have worked as an independent artist and a presenter with venues and festivals, so I understand how these programs—that leverage the resources and skills of both these parties—help sectors develop sustainable, viable, and visible practices for regional artists.

Audiences also deserve to see work made by artists in their community that, even if it’s not explicit, represent the experiences and aspirations of the community they live in.

I’m so grateful to Jordan Best and everyone at The Q for the opportunity.

Finally, how do you hope it will resonate with the local community?

Local audiences are pretty progressive, and these themes will speak to those who want change for the better. My time in the region has shown me they are interested in big ideas and love a good night out.

So that’s what I’ll deliver!

Triceratop is on at The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre (The Q) on 24 & 25 November, at 8pm. Tix are $35/$30 via the venue.

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