Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death is the tantalizing title of Anya Anastasia’s newest show which makes its premiere at this year’s Fringe Festival.
Singer, songwriter and entertainer, Anastasia has been sneaking into theatres and trying to get in front of cameras for as long as she can remember. “As a kid when I worked out for myself that the term “show-off” shouldn’t be a put down, but possibly “show-girl” was more apt for me,” she says.
Like a sponge, Anastasia absorbs influences from everywhere “…and when I see something that captures my imagination or moves me, I’m quick to put pen to paper,” she says. ” I observe the world, interpret it and to me the next thing to do is to express it. I can’t imagine my life with out this process at its core.”
Australian, Adelaide- based Anastasia specializes in crafting performances with theatricality and originality. Hers is a fusion of cabaret, comedy, satire, opulence and wit that has heralded rave reviews wherever she has played.
The inspiration for this show was Anastasia’s inordinate passion for pleasure, and strange fascination with death. “In the absence of any religious beliefs, for me, awareness and acknowledgement of our mortality keeps my sense of morality honest. It also keeps my panache for enjoying things in healthy stead,” she explains.
“Understanding that we’re each just here for a short term puts life in perspective and reinforces the need to lead a responsible life that is respectful to the planet we walk on and empathetic of the other beings we share the planet with, not tearing through resources on a hedonistic rampage.”
“Having said that, I’m certainly an example of someone who explores and lives things to extremes, and my on-stage alter-egos do that to an even greater extent. Essentially they are all on little trips and rampages of their own. At what point is it overindulgent and just plain reckless? Insulting to those who cant? I get to live out the indulgent fabulous extremes through these characters, so I suppose, as is so often the case, I am asking all the questions of myself. Publically.”
Anastasia’s tells me that her imagination was captured by the aesthetic and story of Marie Antoinette. Not just the historical figure, but also the various recurring impressions of her in art and pop-culture- all the things as an icon she came to represent. Anastasia started developing her own interpretation- a character that came about in November 2013 and the ideas for the show have been fast developing ever since.
Anastasia has performed her shows in Prague, Berlin, around Australia and New Zealand, inspiring a cult-like following and rave reviews, but her favourite place to perform has been the Czech Republic.
“I loved performing my last show ‘The Upside Down Girl’ in the Prague Fringe Festival. My show was about a forgotten imaginary friend, I spent a lot of time in character even outside the theatre, as a human statue with my support crew handing out flyers. The city was a perfect setting for this gothic fairytale to unfold both on and off the stage. Bizarre little real-life stories and sagas unfolded the whole time we were there too, like the city was taking our tale and twisting it.”
Anastasia loved that audiences there responded to the show on quite an intellectual level, which made for some really fascinating post-show discussions.
“My show was about how turning your perspective on life upside down can save your life. When As soon as I arrived in Prague, I witnessed someone save a child’s life by holding her upside down- to save her from choking. It was a very moving experience. I wrote about it here- http://anyaanastasia.com/the-other-upside-down-girl/”
However, she really does love performing in Melbourne. “Developing the show here and working with directors Sue Broadway and Sarah Ward has made me more daring in the things I’m putting on the stage,” she explains. “I think Melbourne is a brilliant place to develop and devise innovative contemporary work. Fringe is the perfect context for that. We’re surrounded by so many great artists living and sharing their work, and independently producing work in this city.”
In fact, her absolute favourite bit of this show’s development process has been working with her ‘incredible directors’ Sue Broadway and Sarah Ward, and discovering a new partner in crime and music- Bec Matthews on percussion. “All extremely inspiring, supportive, and very very very clever women. I’m so lucky.”
Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death is black humoured, visually opulent and dripping with satire. It is an original cabaret with music that will grab your ears and bend them sideways, breathtaking elaborate costumes and theatrics, shadow puppetry, circus, satirical cheek, and off-the-wall absurd comedy and a charmingly mad collection of characters. Set in the beautiful Melba Spiegeltent, this show is sure to provoke laughter, thoughts, and an urgent desire for cake and champagne.
Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death
September 16 – 20