BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

31/05/2022 - 03/06/2022

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

05/05/2022 - 06/05/2022

Production Details

Written and performed by Carrie Rudzinski and Olivia Hall

Women are frequently told they are too emotional – too hysterical – to be taken seriously, to be leaders of countries and companies, to be believed when pointing to their own hurt. Hysterical challenges these myths with poetry that confronts body politics, systemic sexism, and weeping uncontrollably in the supermarket.

“Successfully falling short of perfection, Hall and Rudzinski have created a near-masterpiece of imperfection.” – Theatre Scenes

Witness Hysterical on its nation-wide tour, featuring internationally acclaimed poets Carrie Rudzinski and Olivia Hall as they reunite after the success of their previous show How We Survive. Rudzinski is an award-winning poet, published author, and teaching artist and Hall is a celebrated poet and performer with a Masters in Gender Studies.

“A window into the specific worlds of two women, raw flaws on show, unabashed and rightfully unapologetic.” – Theatre Scenes

Hysterical intertwines social issues and personal stories to create a performance that is both confronting and accessible, powerful and needed. By weaving their voices together in duet, Rudzinski and Hall deliver a powerhouse performance encouraging the audience to laugh, cry, and experience emotion together.

BATS Theatre, The Stage
31 May – 3 June 2022
The Difference:  $40
Full:  $25
Group 6+:  $22
Concession:  $20

The Meteor Theatre, 1 Vicroria St, hamilton
Thursday 5th &
Friday 6th May 2022
7:00 pm

Theatre , Comedy ,

1 hr 20 min

Intensely personal, yet will speak to many

Review by Ronia Ibrahim 01st Jun 2022

Hysterical is a feminist poetry show performed by the wonderful duo, Carrie Rudzinski and Olivia Hall. It is their second poetry show following the success of their first show, How We Survive, and their undying friendship since.

It’s awesome to see poetry being performed in spaces that can be curated and designed to elevate the poetry, when usually the slam scene is performed in makeshift bars, nooks and crannies. The stage design here is a cosy living room ensemble, a warm and comforting collection of props including two armchairs, a vintage telephone and a coffee table.

The show opens with the voiceover of several played back voicemail messages, friends and family, a nurse giving a cervical smear reminder, giving us a glimpse into two individuals who seem dearly loved and slightly chaotic. It is an intimate, affectionate start to the show. We are then introduced to the performers: Carrie, a suave, humble presence with a slick American accent, complemented by Olivia with a passionate, bubbly aura and perfect red lipstick.

The opening poem cites the title of the show: Hysteria, a historical term thrown as a catch-all for the condition of womanhood, that still shadows much of the prejudice against women’s health, wellbeing and status in society today. It is a powerful, grounding piece – to which Olivia jokingly remarks afterwards, “We like to start the show off very light-hearted.”

While much of the show contains poems that do not shy away from heavy topics, such as sexual assault, bodily autonomy and fatphobia, Carrie and Olivia also touch on the other, more light hearted experiences of being a woman. Reality TV, J.K. Rowling and menstrual cycles caricatured as roller derby coaches. Between poems, Carrie and Olivia also break the tension with their charming duality, pausing to tell stories to the audience about origins of their friendship, footnotes on certain poems, and the making of the show.

The pair have also recently received funding to tour the show through high schools and theatres nationally. Hysterical will be awesome for educating and inspiring young audiences, engaging in feminist discussion through performance poetry that is still tender and empowering.

Currently Carrie and Olivia are on their national tour, performing a poetry show that weaves performance poetry, feminist discussion, airing out grievances from a stage.

I come from a Gen Z, diasporic background, and have to admit that I didn’t feel completely connected to the content. Hysterical is honest and important, but it also can only show a white millennial experience of being a woman. This is not to say that the show was unfairly biased, there were nods towards police brutality against black women and the hijab ban in France. However it is important to note that this is a show that focuses on a specific lens of womanhood. I appreciate that Carrie and Olivia speak from their hearts, sharing their experience of what it means to exist as a woman. Regardless of who identifies with it, Hysterical is intensely personal, yet will speak to many audiences, some of whom were noticeably whooping and sobbing throughout the night.

For those who can connect it is a valuable piece of art and I am humbled to be able to witness it.


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Skilful, accessible celebration of hysteria hits their mark

Review by Cate Prestidge 06th May 2022

We start with a phone ringing in a flat and a series of messages: personal, informative, ordinary, funny, special. These set the scene as Carrie Rudizinski and Olivia Hall join the stage. They immediately and charmingly break the fourth wall to welcome us, encouraging the audience to share back, snap, clap and acknowledge whatever might land with us over the next hour and a bit.

And plenty is offered up. Billed as an opportunity to “come and celebrate the hysteria in all of us,” Hall and Rudzinski use poetry – both as duet and solo performances – to explore themes of hysteria and emotion, body positivity, what passes as ‘acceptable social inquiry’ and their complicated feelings as OG Harry Potter fangirls facing an unpleasant conflict of ideology. 

Both women are strong, accessible performers who readily engage with the audience, often intertwining their voices in unison, or taking turns to punch home their points. They pull us in gently sharing personal accounts and supporting each other visibly on stage with acknowledgement, by giving focus and passing props. We are among friends; in this safe space, we are taken to some places that make us laugh, make us wonder, and make us a little angry. As they say, “If you’re not hysterical, then you should be!” 

I particularly enjoy Hall’s account of her entertainment choices – no excuses, no explanations, sheer joy. I also like their lists which are interspersed with thought-provoking observations, humour and relatable situations about life with partners, family and friends. 

The poems are all skilfully expressed and arranged for impact and the use of recordings is a nice way to bookend the piece and provide variety. With an 80-minute run, it’s a long time to sustain focus on the myriad of ideas and feelings being explored and expressed. I find myself searching for some transitional music to help me process as we move between poems, especially towards the end.

The obvious shared affection and friendship between the two women supports an atmosphere of warmth within the room. The content is challenging as well as entertaining, and it can be (as the kids say) ‘A. Lot’. I certainly spend time talking with my friend after the show, unpacking ideas and finding common threads – a sure sign that they have hit their mark.


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