They say there is a role that every actor was born to play. When Auckland Theatre Company cast the role of Arie in Emily Perkins’ The Made, they found that actor in Hannah Tasker-Poland, a queer progressive-feminist fresh from producing her own first full-length work, The Most Naked. Hannah chats to express about becoming Arie, intimacy coordination and unlearning a male-gaze perception of queerness.

What does identifying as queer personally mean to you?

My personal expression is constantly shapeshifting, but I’ve always been very drawn to archetypes of femininity and the ways in which they can be exaggerated, manipulated or celebrated. I’m very drawn to strong femmes and present very femme (which 100% means other women often think I’m just engaging in “friendly gal-talk” when really I’m attempting to flirt) but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve really understood how the era I grew up in shaped my queerness. In my formative years of the late-90s to mid-2000s, so much queer-femininity was very male-gaze-y – think the fetishisation of femme woman-on-woman in porn, “lipstick-lesbian” ideals etc. I was absolutely shaped by this. I never intended to be and never wanted to be, but I was. I’d say most women have been shaped by patriarchal and misogynistic norms in some way.


There is some incredible representation and education around queer identities these days, but even as recently as the 2000s it just wasn’t like that. I’ve had meaningful relationships with men and women, but had always felt a lot of my relationships and interactions with women were hindered by this potentially internalized male-gaze perception of my queerness. There’s been a lot of conscious unlearning. It’s a complex realm I’m sure a lot of queers, particularly bi/pan, women can relate to. I feel very fortunate to currently have a great relationship with my partner, a queer man himself, where there is space for additional partners and/or lovers. Having a space where we can both keep exploring, understanding and celebrating our version of queerness, as a couple and as individuals, is really special.

Why were you keen to play Arie in The Made?

There are so many deeply feminist themes that writer Emily Perkins has woven through The Made. Arie is a former sex bot reprogrammed with incredibly advanced AI by scientist Alice (Alison Bruce) that allows her to experience emotion.

Not only is it a great example of the complexities of intergenerational relationships between women – Alice loves Arie, but Arie is also a reminder of how society values feminine youth and beauty, as older women become invisible – but she allows us to delve into questions of ethics and the historical submission of women. Arie is designed to be ‘perfect’, compliant and happy – but what does this mean for how she is treated and used – if she can only feel positive emotions no matter what? It’s genuinely been a bit of a mind-f*!k to figure out how to play this character who is not human, but shows us so much about humanity. I’m loving it!

Your website mentions you also work as an intimacy coordinator. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I have just completed my training and accreditation in Intimacy Coordination and Direction through IDC Intimacy Professionals USA, with support from Equity NZ. Intimacy professionals are performer advocates, choreographers and liaisons between performers and productions to ensure that any and all intimate content – ie simulated sex, nudity, intimate physical contact – is safe, consensual and follows best practice guidelines.

As soon as I heard about this role I was drawn to it. I’ve spent so long working and performing in intimate realms, and have had both really positive and really negative/harmful experiences of intimate performance. There are many times, especially when I was younger, that I wish I had an intimacy coordinator or director there to advocate for me during sex or nude scenes.

The opportunity to be that person for others and help facilitate safe working environments, while making sure the choreography of an intimate scene is ‘perfection’ is really exciting to me.

Hannah Tasker-Poland stars as perfect cyborg ‘Arie’ in Auckland Theatre Company’s world-premiere season of The Made by Emily Perkins, playing at ASB Waterfront Theatre 20 September – 8 October.  Tickets and info