Posts tagged ‘boston night life’
There’s no doubt about it, the burlesque revival is booming in Boston and beyond. There is just something about neo-vaudeville performance that modern audiences are connecting with and it’s more the striptease (although that I’m sure doesn’t hurt). Burlesque’s blend of comedy, social satire and vulgarization of normally high class materials seems to be just the soothing balm we’re craving amidst today’s social and political turmoil.
I recently caught up with Jill Gibson and Karin Webb, masterminds behind Axe to Ice Productions and official Fever 2 Tell Women Who Rock, to talk about burlesque, politics and their new show Boiling Point Burlesque. Boiling Point Burlesque is a true vaudeville style cabaret packed with so many different types of delightful and provocative performers that you’ll never know what’s coming next. One night only at the Cambridge YMCA Theater Saturday June 27th at 7PM & 9:30PM. Get your tickets at www.axe2ice.com.
Jill and Karin are two self described, “cabaret- producing gender-bending, clown-like character actors.” Claiming influences as disparate as Carol Burnette, Gilda Radner, Roald Dahl and Franz Kafka, they founded Axe to Ice in 2008 with the mission to “create, support, and produce art that causes an audience to question and to think, to be struck in the moment, and to bring their experiences into action in their own communities.”
So far audience response to their shows has been overwhelmingly positive. Says Jill, “After our shows we hear from people we don’t know- men, women, old young, gay, straight- it’s kind of validating to know that your work is reaching many types of people, and on many different levels. I love that. It’s what we aim for.” Axe to Ice also seeks to foster community amongst performing artists themselves. Their latest show brings together everyone from drag kings and queens to dancers, comedians, musicians and visual artists to create a unique experience that the audience won’t find anywhere else.
Although they were in the throes of preparing for Saturday’s performance, Jill and Karin were gracious enough to allow me to chat them up about their artistic process via email. I could have grilled these two talented performers on their craft for hours but keeping their schedules in mind I had to seriously curb my enthusiasm.
When you are developing a character or a show where do you draw your inspiration from? Do you come up with a central theme or idea you’d like to explore first or do the characters come first? Do you feel you have a political/social agenda as well as an artistic one?
Karin: For me the character often appears in costume first, and then I spend some time being the character and “finding” her self and back story…By looking like a character in public for a while, a person with thoughts and reactions of her (or his) own emerges. I have to answer questions that I haven’t thought of the answers to. Some of those answers stick, and some evolve or get lost in the moment. When I leave that costume it is an impression of a human grown from intuition and interaction. When I put that character back on it is someone I know already and the process takes on new dimension…In the interim of playing this person I am also meditating on him, having to talk about the experience as people who were around joke about the character, and often find myself defending their quirks and downfalls…. I think through compassion and understanding of my characters they move from Caricature to humanity-, which, for me, is the point of playing.
Jill: My major character, Mary Dolan, started as a kind of homage to my grandmother, who was a vaudeville-revival performer and a hell of a woman. She really instilled a love of theatre in me and a passion for entertaining everyone in the room. She was a major force in my life, and when she passed away 4 years ago, I received her old costume truck as my inheritance. This character takes on many things I remember about her- her quirks and humor and flair for theatrics.
I’ve seen so much writing on the web lately claiming that burlesque can’t be feminist or sex positive and that it exploits women whether we like it or not. What’s your take on that attitude?
Karin: Anyone who makes an issue completely black and white is doing a disservice to themselves and to the larger community as a whole. I understand having passionate feelings for or against a cause, but without understanding all sides (and I mean all- not both) of a subject we have no way to reach the people living their lives in the war-zone. I am a feminist. I take my clothes off onstage because I am sex positive and that is a big part of my point of view as an artist. It is my choice, my art, my rules, my creation, my voice, FOR my audience. Everyone is exploited in this world regardless of whether they hold Puritan values or not- we are all part of the evolution of the human race together, and I am proud to be the voice that I am in this mix. I am not in the business of being objectified (other than that is what Theatre can be interpreted to be in bare essence), nor am I in the business of objectifying others. That is a no-win situation. I am in the business of experience and conversation, of reaction invoking new thought. Great question!
What are your goals as performers and as a company?
Jill: We are very open to seeing what comes to us, and following the meandering roads in front of us. Ultimately we’d love to tour nationally and internationally- bringing our work to the world and the world to our work. There are many things I’ve yet to see in the world and I am anxious to get out there and broaden my take of the world. We’d both love to always continue our work with the stage, and continue to collaborate with major artists. And create a variety show filmed on a stage in front of a live audience for television- why not? Carol Burnett, if you’re reading this, call us!