Adelaide’s rising cabaret star Anya Anastasia says some of the most raucous crowds she’s performed for inspired her to inject a fresh strain of political commentary and satire into The New Cabaret Experiment for the Cabaret Fringe Festival.
“It was always at the top of my list to get back to performing in a really intimate space,” Anya Anastasia says of her new performance as part of Cabaret Fringe, “because it’s got that intimate conspiratorial feeling of sharing ideas.”
Anya Anatasisa’s The New Cabaret Experiment will make its debut at Henrietta’s, the basement of The Henry Austin. The venue will help her connect more directly with her audience, she says, noting the contrast between performing in a 300-seat tent at the Royal Croquet Club this past Fringe and this “beautiful little basement space where it feels like people can bare their soul”.
The content of this solo show is set to diverge from her previous work, too. Known for her original compositions and highly animated, inventive performances, Anastasia says she wants to root this solo show in the present day.
“What I want to do with this show in particular is use it as a voice to comment on what’s going on in our world at the moment because there’s so much that’s changing,” she says. “So many people feel powerless or a bit apathetic about what we can do, and what our place can be in that ongoing conversation.”
(Image: Gee Greenslade)
As such, audiences can expect a strong vein of political commentary and satire to shine through in her Experiment, and look forward to a highly physical performance too.
“As far as what I want to do with the genre itself, I’m moving away from some of the cheesier aspects of it this time. I want to experiment with the real physicality, bring a lot of the theatrical elements in.”
Anastasia explains that her fresh thirst for current commentary came from recent tours of her shows Torte e Morte and Rogue Romantic through regional South Australia and Victoria. Initially she was sceptical about how rural audiences would receive her risqué, “somewhat left-leaning” work.
“I was so terrified. I was backstage in this tiny hall in a town called Yarck, which is in regional Victoria in the heart of beef country… I was looking out at what kind of looked like Bingo Night – you know, an old crowd, and everyone had had their dinner, and it was really sweet – I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is going to be so bad! What am I doing? What am I doing here? Why didn’t they just get a jazz singer?’”
But, as she soon discovered, the crowd lapped it up, no matter whether they disagreed with the subject matter, and even approached her to chat about her shows’ messages afterwards.
“I was totally surprised. It totally turned my expectations on its head. Literally, they were some of the most raucous, excited, on-board audiences that I’ve performed to,” she says, adding that she “was using all of my energy just to try and calm them down”.
(Photo: Kate Pardey)
Speaking passionately about the role of the artist in discussing hard topics, Anastasia strongly believes in the value of topical, yet responsible performance.
“If you’re putting a microphone in front of yourself, or getting your work out there, I feel like it is the artist’s responsibility to have a think about their impact or make a comment on what’s going on in some way. Cabaret has a very strong history of that.”
Anastasia will continue to develop The New Cabaret Experiment throughout the year while she tours to Melbourne and the UK, hopefully growing it into a four-hander piece for next year’s Adelaide Fringe, along with a dancer, acrobat and accompanying musician.
“I’m not able to say who at the moment, but there are some really exciting international collaborators that I’ve met through my travels who are really excited to do something in this format.”
Anya Anastasia: The New Cabaret Experiment
Henrietta’s, 29 Chesser St
Monday, June 12 to Wednesday, June 17, 7pm
(Header photo: Kate Pardey)