The Royal Croquet Club invites a range of exotic and exciting performers to the Adelaide Fringe Festival each year and in 2016, will play host to the homecoming of our very own Anya Anastasia.
Originally from Adelaide, Anya relocated to Melbourne for artistic reasons and will be bringing her show Torte e Morte: Songs of Cake and Death back home in February.
Playing at Ukiyo at the Royal Croquet Club, Torte e Morte, written by Anya Anastasia, is a darkly humorous musical exploration of the life of Marie Antoinette.
Anya spoke with us for our recent 16 for ’16 venture and talked us through her show.
“At the start of the show, we’re introduced to Her Royal Highness, Queen Marie Antoinette and we very quickly realise we are witnessing her a couple of hundred years after her death, where she is reliving bits and pieces of her life,” she says.
“Then we follow her journey through the afterlife where she encounters lots of different characters, like a very grim Grim Reaper and a particularly feisty she-devil. We see bits and pieces of her very hedonistic rampages. She’s a very good (if a little bonkers) party host.”
The three-person show was created by Anya and produced with the help of two iconic mainstays of the Melbourne cultural scene, Helpmann and multi-Green Room award-winning performer Sarah Ward (Yana Alana), and devisor of circus and physical theatre, Sue Broadway.
“It’s myself and a percussionist, Bec Matthews who was formally with Circus Oz and who’s also worked with Yana Alana [AKA Sarah Ward], one of my directors in this show. There’s also another role in the show who is seen, but not heard. That’s Marie Antoinette’s dresser on stage. So it’s essentially a three-person show,” Anya says.
“It was great to get into the brains and bones of how she [Sarah Ward] works. It was also such a thrill that she was so excited about this work I’ve written, and then applied her comedic and theatrical knowledge and sensibility to it. To have her in the room with me and Bec, the percussionist (who is also her partner), and have so many creative ideas bouncing off each other, it was such an amazing experience; it was quite hysterical!”
The show itself grew from a character Anya was cast in for an event here in Adelaide; from there, she developed it into something she is very pleased to showcase.
“I was commissioned to create this Marie Antoinette character for a Beaujolais burlesque night to launch a new wine. I came up with the character and started getting to know her. At the beginning, all I knew was that she was this French queen who was very decadent and a spendthrift, and ended up getting her head chopped off at the start of the French Revolution! But as I started reading about her, I discovered how young and naïve she was,” she says.
“Also, she was the first big fashionista. She was the first celebrity people would watch for what she was wearing. She would use fashion and things she’d weave into her giant hairstyles to make political comments and statements way before Lady Gaga!
“She pushed the boundaries, and the more I found out about her, the more I thought this was an exciting character to explore. I also thought it was worthwhile to tie in the concept of the ongoing disconnect between the lives and realities of those in power and the lives and realities of the rest of us. She’s still an excellent vehicle for satire and parody, and bringing a little bit of political commentary as well. I am so excited to bring this show back to Adelaide. I’m so proud of this show and how much I’ve grown as an artist in the last few years.”
Just as exquisite as the royal fashionista herself, the costumes for Marie Antionette have been designed to reflect the themes of the show.
“Originally my costume was a couple of wedding dresses I found in op shops and fused together, but I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with a designer here in Melbourne called Zoe Felice. She has a beautiful traditional approach to being a costumier,” Anya says.
“She just understands how things work under the stage lights, and perfectly fitting it to me, but also working very closely to the brief. I was after something that had that old world extravagance and glamour from that era, and the femininity of those elegant colours; but I also wanted it to pop and be a bit drag and theatrical, and she nailed it. Wearing it feels like a masterpiece.”
Torte e Morte: Songs of Cake and Death is showing for a strictly limited season from Friday February 12, until Sunday 21 at Royal Croquet Club.
Book your tickets here and check out the teaser below.