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. 

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. 

Get ready for Bollywood dance and music with The Bollywood Trip this December

Dive into a world of drama and mayhem with The Bollywood Trip, here from 12 – 18 December at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Direct from its Copenhagen premiere with five star reviews, The Bollywood Trip hits London with a bang. East meets West as an international cast of actors, dancers and musicians present this tragi-comedy by Republique, one of Denmark’s most acclaimed theatre companies.

Get ready for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Bollywood! And here are some translated five star reviews to wet your appetite!

“Republique especially concentrates on a modern interpretation of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” this autumn: The performance “The Bollywood Trip” spiced up with lots of Bollywood dance by the prominent Indian kathak choreographer, Gauri Sharma Tripathi.

Bollywood movies are a media for normal people to escape from reality. For instance if you are driving a rickshaw in India and working for 15 hours a day it’s a relief to go to the cinema and indulge in a Bollywood movie that use the whole gamut of emotions. The dancing in the movies is not just movements but has a long tradition, and the feelings are the backbone of Bollywood. And so they will be in The Bollywood Trip,” says Indian Gauri Sharma Tripathi and emphasises that it’s important to understand the great impact of Bollywood movies in India and that the singing and dancing scenes are the most important elements of the movies.

She is the leading modern kathak choreographer of international theatre. With London as her base for the last 14 years she has worked closely together with the British dance star Akram Khan and created amazing kathak solos in several of his work, inclusive “Gnosis” which was shown her in Denmark last year.

(The show) characterises kathak and Bollywood dance that the rhythm of the feet is very complex.    

Kathak is one of the classic dances that are done standing with your body straight. It’s a very flexible dance that can be formed according to the circumstances. For instance you can exclude the rhythms of the feet and say it with your voice instead and you can use many different fragments from kathak in Bollywood dance.

(For The Bollywood Trip) the dance is an incorporated part of the whole performance. However, the four dancers in the performance, who come from India and London and are professional kathak dancers like Gauri, will make sure we get some pure, sparkling and happy dance scenes.    

 Kathak is after all a dance that was traditionally used for storytelling and we will try to incorporate really hard core kathak movements in the story. But all dancers are also very skilled at many other dance expressions like Indian folk and chhau dance. We will try to make the story move through the dance. But movements are not enough by itself. You also need a strong presence on stage. Both mime and gestures are important elements of the kathak as well as the Bollywood dance. The hands can tell a whole story but the posture of the head, the face and the eyes are also very important. Eyes talk and communicate a lot. It’s possible to have one scene with only the eyes dancing.

(Berlingske, 6/9-11 *****)

“The Indian-British choreographer Gauri Sharma Tripathi created a whirling choreography placed between catwalk and kathak dance that forces the audience to give in to this ‘License to Dance’…the aesthetics of The Bollywood Trip is foremost the one of the theatre concert – with cool images of dancers waving their long, black hair down the stage slope.” (Information, 09.10.2011)

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Get to know… Flawless!

Flawless’ hit show Chase the Dream opens tonight at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. We caught up with the guys earlier to ask them our quick questions.

Flawless: Chase the Dream

Flawless: Chase the Dream

Nathan ‘Oddey’ Kabs

Paul ‘Breaker’ Samuels

Simon ‘Shock’ Smith

Neo

What do you fear the most?
Breaker: I fear losing my mum the most.
Shock: Messing up on stage in front of thousands of people!
Neo: The fear of losing the closest people to me.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
Oddey: I call my mum’s mobile number the most.
Breaker: My little brother’s.
Shock: 118 118!

What – or where – is perfection?
Oddey: Perfection to me is someone who doesn’t get too complacent in what he or she does. There’s always room for improvement and don’t settle down for nothing less.
Breaker: Whilst I’m training listening to music.
Neo: Perfection defines the journey of Flawless!

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Oddey:
My favourite hero would have to be Batman, just because everything about him is dark and his car is the one thing that makes me like Batman ever more.
Breaker: Spawn because when I was little I always thought he was cool.
Shock: Spiderman because he saved lives because of his power and I feel my power is being an artist an inspiring the younger generation and it could save their lives if they chase their dreams and make it happen.
Neo: Peter Petrelli from Heroes because he had the ability to gain everyone’s power.

What’s your favourite ritual?
Oddey:
Living the dream, waking up with a smile knowing that I’m going to dance/perform/train.
Breaker: Getting home, chilling and playing PS3!
Shock: Waking up every morning and living my dream.
Neo: Our group prayer before every performance. It gets me focused and ready for the performance.

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
Oddey:
The person I admire most is my dad, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been the person who I am today in many ways, such as growing up on the correct path and having my future business plans sorted.
Breaker: Popping Pete because he has shown no matter how old you are or get, you can always chase your dreams by doing what you love.
Shock: Usher because he is inspires me to work hard.
Neo: My mother. She is a strong and determined person who has taught me to always be positive and do what I love.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
Breaker:
Speak other languages.
Shock: Sing, fashion designer and act.
Neo: I’ve always wanted to be able to sing!

Tell us about a special memory you have of Southbank Centre?
Oddey:
The special memory which I have of the Southbank Centre is performing in front of a sold out Flawless show event.
Shock: Doing the National Movie Awards at Southbank for Streetdance 3D the movie.
Neo: Finding out that Flawless were going to have a show at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall!

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
Oddey:
My ideal Southbank Centre show would be to have Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Usher and Flawless all on the same stage and creating the biggest dance/singing show ever.
Shock: Flawless, Michael Jackson, Usher, Drake, N.E.R.D, JAY-Z, Beyonce, Cirque du Soleil, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Royal Ballet, China Olympics. Huge movie directors, huge fashion designers.

What’s your favourite website?
Oddey:
My favourite website would have to be Google! This site never fails to help me when I need it!
Breaker: YouTube
Neo: Well I’m always checking my Facebook!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Oddey:
Most important life has taught me is that, when you believe in yourself and want to achieve something GO FOR IT! Never let anyone tell you different. Chase your dream.
Shock: Learn from your mistakes and never give up.
Neo: That everything happens for a reason.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
Oddey:
The most played music is Michael Jackson ‘Smooth Criminal’ live on the Bad tour.
Breaker: Dwele – I think I love U
Shock: Cold Play
Neo: Alicia Keys feat. Drake – Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)

Flawless: Chase the Dream at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall 21 – 23 December, 2010. Book tickets here