As we now get stuck into this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival, it’s pretty damn evident that Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect are just getting started when it comes to rolling out a brilliantly curated program of performers over the next few weeks.
Having Finucane & Smith back in Adelaide with their brand new production of The Birds is set to be a surefire highlight of the Cabaret Festival this year and to find out more, Moira Finucane herself lets us in on his this latest project came to be.
Stoked to see that another Finucane & Smith production is back in Adelaide – how would you describe your anticipation when it comes to bringing The Birds to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, compared to other productions you’ve brought to Adelaide?
This has been a year of flight! I woke up the other day to find out we had won International Presentation of the Year across the whole of Cuba, last month I was in Colombia watching raptors fly over the edge of jagged mountains. The month before, I was the exotic bird performing on the side of a mountain in Chile on a crumbling palace terrace in front of 2,000 screaming Chileans.
The Birds has been concocted all over the world and we are sprinkling the last acid green, deep purple and black sequinned touches to it right now. We cannot wait to bring it to Adelaide!
The Cabaret Festival is one of my favourite festivals in the whole world, from the minute the founding director Julia Holt bailed me up in the sleet in Edinburgh and urged me to come home for it, I have been in love, and this year is going to be dynamite. Artistic directors to die for, a line up to die for, we are flying in!
Finucane & Smith artistes had a love affair with Adelaide for years – everything from burlesque and variety with the Burlesque Hour and Glory Box, to literary Gothic and extravagant story telling with The Feast of Argentina. The Birds is a wild new, brand new show: a fantastic and fantastical creature, she is a phoenix, stirring and smashing of the literary, with song, circus, wild wild dancing all in a late night Paris salon
The show is described as being like ‘Edgar Allen Poe meets late night Paris’ – where did the initial inspirations for this show come from and how have you enjoyed fleshing these ideas out for live performance?
I dreamt of The Birds in Adelaide! She came to me one hot summers night, fully formed: flying, falling, feathered, wild, beautiful sexy soulful. I woke up from a dream of acid jazz, swirling fans, shaking hips and late night Paris to find myself in summer in Adelaide, but the image has stayed with me ever since – it’s only right, we should let this wild beautiful creature fly in Adelaide.
We picked up The Birds artists all over the world. Clare St Clare in a gale in Europe, singing like a sweet flame thrower in the dark. Yeshe Meherate from Ethiopia, Beni Lola a Barbados bombshell; Mama Alto, the world’s only beyond gender countertenor diva. Miss Chief on the keys, Rockie Stone the exquisite aerialist, and me? Queen Provocateur, Wild Raven, La Diosa ( the Goddess) as they call me in Latin America. Sexy, celestial, gothic and go go!
Your shows have a wonderful ability of drawing your crowds in and holding them in this beautifully seductive world where it can be both vibrant and darkly indulgent at the same time; as a creative team, how would you describe the dynamic that exists for this kind of live show environment to be now so well-known and respected? What do you enjoy most about working with one another?
There’s a Finucane & Smith secret ingredient that has worked across five continents, from Scandinavia to Colombia, Argentina to Italy, Tokyo to London, Paris to Sao Paulo … I’ll let you in on it. We love our audience with a passion, we treat them as smart, curious, precious.
We take care of them. We take their hands, we sit them in a wild and beautiful world and we are off together on a wild adventure. In every single country I have been in, every audience is different, every audience member is different, but I have never had to ‘dumb anything down’. We cherish our audiences.
We seduce people into our worlds: we never set out to shock; that would presume our experience is somehow greater, or more sophisticated – which just isn’t be true. This dynamic has built a trust and a respect between us and our audiences that has lasted now for over a decade. We never dumb anything down, we assume our audiences are smart, curious, intelligent and we’ve never been wrong!
The artists we work with share this belief that if you seduce your audience and treat them with respect, they will follow you anywhere. We have scoured the world to find our artists: each one is unique and brings a special quality to the show and to our company.
Is there a particular part within The Birds that is your favourite, that you can tell us about?
I am right now listening to the soaring voices of my singers, watching Yeshe hoop like a fiend, Beni Lola shake it like a Caribbean nightclub in fast forward and flicking through photos of our acid green outer-space chandeliers, back sequin dripping drapes and opening a peacock fan sent by an 80 year old erotic poetess, just for me to use in the show! I love this world!
The acid green, purple satin, feathered, sultry, weird, gentle, gasp-worthy, spectacular world of it– I couldn’t isolate one part.
Your career as performers is one that’s built on so much experience – what would be some advice you’d give to young artists who are in the developmental stages of their career, when it comes to forming your own projects and establishing a name for yourself?
Don’t believe the people who tell you it won’t work. Over ten years ago, people told us our show The Burlesque Hour would never be seen by more than a ‘fringe and alternative’ audience. Now it’s been seen by over 400,000, travelled to every continent in the world, won 15 theatre awards, been reviewed and adored in 12 languages. We have worked hard for our success, and brought our audiences with us, but we never let the naysayers stand in our way!
Will The Birds be heading overseas this year? What are the plans for this production as the year continues to roll out?
Next stop in Australia is the Darwin Festival and [then] I’m off to Paris and London in July to reside in museums and chat to excited theatres about The Birds. We have plans for Columbia later this year and a return to Cuba in 2017.
Last year, we went to Cuba and won the International Theatre Institute’s CHAMACO award for Best International Presentation across the whole of Cuba. Who knows what the future holds, but The Birds will be like the condor… it will fly high!
The Birds premieres at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival on June 22nd. Its season at the Space Theatre runs through until 25th. For event information and tickets, head HERE.
Image: Jodie Hutchinson