The Little Match Girl tale revealed…

Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous tales include The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling, but it is his Little Match Girl story that captivated cabaret star, Meow Meow.  ‘He captures abuse, exile and abandonment as familiar conditions – and food, warmth, love, beauty and spirituality as fundamental human needs, not just wishful hallucinations.’

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Hans Christian Andersen’s heart-wrenching story of the poor match-seller who freezes to death one New Year’s Eve was first published in 1845. The image of the bare-footed, blonde-haired child, outside on this ‘most terribly cold’ night, trying to warm herself with the matches she is supposed to be selling, resonated with all who read it in those dark, Dickensian days of child labour, cruelty and poverty. Surrounded by the houses of rich merchants, with the snow coming down, the little match girl takes shelter in a nook. She strikes her matches against a brick wall and through the bright flare sees images of a better life: a festive table laid with a roast goose; a magnificent Christmas tree with thousands of lights; a shooting star; and the loving face of her grandmother. But in a chilling finale, by dawn she is dead, frozen stiff still clutching her bundles of matches.

There is a meaningful message to be found beneath Meow Meow’s bizarre cabaret of wildness, wit and glamour. Not only is it a re-telling of Andersen’s story, says the performer, but it is ‘a reminder of the thousands of little match girls and boys sleeping rough every night in Australia’. Between musical vignettes and high-kicking theatrics, Meow Meow shares moments of frailty and incisive social commentary. She doesn’t offer an answer to the problem of homelessness; rather she uses a simple fairy tale to challenge the crowd in a rollicking, rousing performance.

 

Catch Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 13 – 30 December. Get tickets and watch trailer here. 

 

Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl opens tomorrow! We interview the woman herself!

Little Match Girl. Photo Magnus Hastings

Little Match Girl. Photo Magnus Hastings

 

Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl opens tomorrow night for the UK premiere of this award-winning show. We caught up with Meow Meow herself and asked her a few questions. The full interview is available in the Little Match Girl programme.

What’s your favourite thing about winter?
‘Glühwein, the miraculousness of snow, the strange, surreal places that the brain takes one when there is very little sunlight …’

How do you prepare for a performance?
‘A little ballet barre, some vocal pyrotechnics, a fabulous outfit and a whiff of martini …’

Is it important to you that audiences are shocked?
‘ I’m passionate about live performance, music and its potential to heal and to incite. One does want to invigorate, even if desperate measures are called for …’

‘As my musical director Lance Horne says, “In a Meow Meow show you may not be moved, but you will be touched!”’

On audience participation:
‘It’s never about making someone look silly – aside from myself. I’m much more into pursuing audience engagement. It’s about getting the message out there. The fact that sometimes it’s my leg that I’m asking to be placed over a shoulder is a boon for some lucky punter, let’s face it.’

On different audiences:
‘I’m lucky enough to have thrown myself at audiences in China, the US, Europe, Australia … even the town of Tanaki in New Zealand has had to bear me (literally). Singing Brecht at a bar in Berlin is quite different to singing it at Lincoln Center in New York.’

Do you think Andersen would be a fan of the show?
‘Well, he did have a passion for a lady in a tutu …’

Catch Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 13 – 30 December 2012. Get tickets and watch trailer here.

Slava’s Snowshow in photos! One week to go!

It’s only one week until Slava’s Snowshow returns to Royal Festival Hall by popular demand. Here’s a sneak peek of the snowstorm set to take over Southbank Centre this Christmas!

 

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Catch Slava’s Snowshow at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London,  from 17 December – 7 January 2012. Get tickets here. 

Magical family puppet adventure Cloud Man comes to Southbank Centre this Christmas!

Cloud Man, Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall
Saturday 22 December – Sunday 6 January
Get tickets here

We caught up with the only Cloud Man expert, Cloudia Engle (Resident Scientist and respected meteorologist at ‘The Hut’, Cloud Mountain) to find out a bit more about Cloud Men…

What is it like to live on Cloud Mountain?

It is fascinating to see and be so close to all the different types of clouds but it can get quite draughty.

What happens when it gets particularly windy – is this dangerous for Cloud Men?

I have evidence to believe that when Cloud Men are in small groups (which is very rare), they participate in thrilling cloud races across the sky.

What do you think is a Cloud Man’s favourite type of weather?

I have spotted Cloud Men looking particularly happy when the sun is shining and it is raining at the same time.

You have said that Cloud Men make sculptures and shapes from the clouds. What kind shapes do they make?

I have seen all kinds of things in the clouds. I recommend looking for cloud sculptures on a bright clear day when there are blue skies and big fluffy clouds (nimbus or cumulonimbus clouds to be precise).

We’re celebrating winter at Southbank Centre this year. What’s your favourite thing about winter?

Cold weather and snow clouds are particularly exciting, as this seems to increase the chances of seeing a Cloud Man…

So don’t miss your chance to see a Cloud Man this winter at Southbank Centre from Saturday 22 December – Sunday 6 January. Get your tickets here:
southbankcentre.co.uk/cloudman

Slava’s Snowshow returns to Royal Festival Hall this Christmas. Watch the trailer here!

Due to popular demand, Slava’s Snowshow returns to Royal Festival Hall this Christmas. Experience a joyous, dream-like world which will touch both your heart and funny bone, culminating in a breathtaking blizzard leaving you knee-deep in snow!


Catch Slava’s Snowshow at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall from 17 December – 7 January. Get tickets here.