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. 

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. 

Star Clown and Mime Artist Julien Cottereau comes to Southbank Centre!

This winter, you can enter a world of pure wonder with this former star clown from Cirque du Soleil, who will have the whole family in stitches.

Julien Cottereau: Imagine Toi, Purcell Room, Thursday 13 – Monday 24 December.
More information/book tickets here.

And now you can hear from the man himself as he lets us in on a few secrets about transforming himself into a monster and more!

How did you discover your talent for mime?
Little by little as a child, when I used to dance at parties. I felt proud when others joined me on the dance floor and would get a bit wilder. I wanted these moments to be inspiring. I still see what I do as ‘funny dancing’.

Can you give us your top miming tip, maybe a sound effect the audience could practise at home?
The best thing to do if you want to mime is to work in front of a silent crowd and mime an invisible object – you must believe that it is real. Then make a story out of it, and that’s all you have to do! It is such an unusual way to tell a story, that everyone will be intrigued and want to know more. To start off, drink from an invisible glass and let your audience know what’s inside, whether you like it, or not, how it affects you… Then share your reactions with us
and let us join in (if we want to, of course!), mocking yourself as you do it… Then you might want to produce the sound effects yourself to make your performance even more irresistible, and even better understood. And the more you do silly things, the funnier you are! The best mime is the silliest clown.

What is your favourite part of the show?
It changes often. Anything that people really enjoy is my favourite part, so maybe the best thing is when I interact with the public the most. These new friends always have something to teach me about how to be innocent and courageous facing the unknown. They are good and humble masters. I would want to be like them on stage forever. They’re my heroes!

The show involves some audience participation and everyone must react differently in each show you do.
How does the ‘not knowing what will happen’ element affect your performance?
As I just said, the audience participation affects the show in the best way. It forces me to stay alert and makes me want to perform the show everywhere with many different playfellows.

Have you ever used your skills at creating sound effects to play a trick on someone?
Yes, often on my four-year-old daughter. When she is naughty (which happens quite regularly), I transform myself into a monster – the same monster that
sometimes appears in my show, actually – then she gets really scared until she remembers all she has to do is cuddle me and I’ll return to my normal self. Then I thank her very much for saving me from being a monster forever.

We’re celebrating winter at Southbank Centre this year.
What’s your favourite thing about winter?
Sometimes the snow and the frost get in the way of our plans, and we have to stop what we’re doing and stay indoors. Suddenly, there is a true solidarity between people and everyone opens up a bit more. Everything stops, it’s silent and we stay at home, feeling lucky not to have to sleep outside. I like winter for that. Nature
holds us in its palm occasionally.

Watch trailer – Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl

After her starring role Kneehigh Theatre’s West End hit The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, international cabaret sensation Meow Meow comes to Southbank Centre this Christmas with a sizzling show that will defrost even the coldest of hearts.

Catch Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of The Winter Festival from 13 – 30 December 2012. Get tickets here. 

Rolf Harris in a rare performance at Royal Festival Hall

Tickets went on sale this week to An Evening with Rolf Harris – a rare performance from the 82-year-old artist, musician, singer and TV presenter. You’ll get the chance to hear his classic songs accompanied by his seven-piece band, wobble board and possibly the world’s largest didgeridoo. Plus Rolf will be painting a special portrait live on stage.

The nation’s favourite Aussie, who in 2010 made his sixth appearing at Glastonbury before a record breaking 130,000 audience, will appear for one night only in February 2013. Snap up your tickets before they’re gone!

Rolf Harris

Catch Rolf Harris at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on Friday 8 February 2013. Get tickets here.