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.

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. 

Photos: London International Mime Festival 2013

Circle of Eleven, photo: Andy Phillipson

Wolfe Bowart in Letter's End, photo: David Wyatt

Compagnie 111/ Aurélien Bory , photo: Aglae Bory

My!Laika, photo: Mona


Circle of Eleven, photo: Heiko Kalmbach


Wolfe Bowart in Letter's End, photo: David Wyatt


Compagnie 111/ Aurélien Bory, photo: Aglae Bory


Wolfe Bowart in Letter's End, photo: David Wyatt


Circle of Eleven, photo: Heiko Kalmbach


Southbank Centre is proud to be a venue for the 2013 London International Mime Festival, 12 – 27 January. Get tickets here.

£10 restricted view tickets released for Chunky Move

This weekend we see Ether Festival 2012 out in style with two nights of Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine. It’s very nearly sold out so we’ve released some restricted view seats for only £10. Call 0844 847 9910 or visit the box office to book. (Not available online)

Here’s what the press are saying:

‘Mortal Engine is an undeniably thrilling work, extraordinary to look at and exciting in its sense of possibility.’ (The Guardian)

‘If the technology was impressive, the flesh and blood dancers were outstanding.’ (The Herald, Edinburgh)

‘There are many words you could use to describe Mortal Engine, but perhaps the most fitting is a simple “WOW”.’ (The Scotsman, Edinburgh)

‘Mesmerising.’ (The New York Times)

Catch Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall this weekend on 19 & 20 October. Click here for more info or to book restricted view tickets call 0844 847 9910.

Watch the trailer: Chunky Move – dance / video / lasers

Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine is a dance-video-laser performance using movement-responsive video projections to portray an ever-shifting, shimmering world in which the limits of the human body are an illusion. It features specially composed music by Ben Frost, one of the most thrillingly visceral musicians working today, whose collaborations range from Wayne McGregor/Random Dance to Bjork and Brian Eno.

Working in unison with a video tracking system, lasers follow and ‘play with’ the movement of the six dancers. Frieder Weiss’ unique software makes it possible for instruments and bodies that generate light, video, sound and movement to respond to each other in real time.

Mortal Engine has no pre-rendered video, light or laser images – the production flexes according to the rhythm of the performers.

Under the artistic leadership of Gideon Obarzanek, this show from Chunky Move, one of Australia’s pre-eminent dance companies, has toured to Mexico, Germany, Spain, the USA and was a highlight of the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival, receiving an ‘Honourable Mention – Hybrid Art’ at the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica – widely regarded as the most important international award for creativity and pioneering spirit in the field of digital media. It was also awarded Best Visual/Physical Theatre Production at Australia’s Helpmann Awards.


Catch Chunky Move at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 19 & 20 October as part of Ether 2012. Get tickets here. 

Watch our new Danza Preparata video

What do you get if you combine acclaimed choreographer Rui Horta, John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano and a performing cat called Mia? Take a look and find out!

Catch Danza Preparata with choreography by Rui Horta and music by John Cage, as part of Ether 2012 at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 16 September. Get tickets here.