From environmental scientist, to human rights activist, to the Queen of Provocative Variety, Moira Finucane is an Australian national treasure who consistently and fearlessly shakes the boundaries of art.
Finucane is co-creator, co-director and performer in the legendary house of Finucane & Smith alongside Jackie Smith. Together they have built an 11 year heritage of genre-defying performance, ranging somewhere between – and beyond – exotic life art and Grand Guignol. Finucane & Smith are internationally recognised as redefining the art form of Burlesque in Australia.
Glory Box La Revoluciόn – the one final Glory Box season before it struts out of Melbourne indefinitely- brings together some of Australia’s most unique and powerful female performers, in a show that sizzles and spits, and turns Burlesque on it’s head.
Read on as Moira Finucane discusses life, art, partnerships, dreams and achievements as only she can.
When I first started in theatre everyone was talking about this up and coming genius Jackie Smith, she wrote solo shows, she was really smart, she won two ABC radio awards, performed them; hey I saw her in one of them and she was such a natural.
So, when I wrote my first solo show that was a bit of a surprise smash hit, Palz Vaughan (the then director of Melbourne Fringe) said “Hey you should call Jackie Smith and see if you can get your show into her short works season!” So I did. Ring Jackie. I was really nervous. But I plucked up the courage. And I picked up that phone, and she answered and I told her Palz said to ring, and that I had a solo show, and perhaps I could be part of her season.
And she said “No.”
And although I never did get a place in that season of Jackie’s, I am a very persuasive person. So eventually (and inevitably) we did start to work together, and what everyone said is true. Jackie is smart. She is a genius, and what is more she is courageous. And fun. And that has taken us around the world; to Sweden in mid-winter to Central Australia in mid-summer, to standing ovations across five continents. To working with and meeting hundreds, and thousands of people who have shared our work. Their generosity and stories and art have changed my life.
But the most memorable moment was the night in Ganunzhou, 11 years ago, when we first thought up the Glory Box. We were sitting on the veranda of a southern Chinese avant garde nightclub, there was a performance poet, and a snake dancer, and a snake, and hundreds excited people, talking and sharing their lives – and there we were drinking firewater, watching the pouring rain make hundreds of red lanterns sway like jellyfish in the branches of a giant tree; and we had a wild vision… we wanted to open a salon, a salon of the extraordinary and the underground, the unforgettable and indefinable, as seductive as it was subversive, as provocative as it was entertaining. We finished our drinks, bought boxes of red lanterns, went home and premiered The Glory Box in the middle of the Melbourne winter.
And it sold out the night it opened, has played for over 300,000 fans around the world, has won 12 theatre awards, including 5 Green Room Awards and Scotland on Sunday’s “Hottest Temptation of the Festival”, has been acclaimed in 13 languages, had 70 sell-out seasons, including three under the sails of the Sydney Opera House.
One year I saved six month’s rent, gave up my day job, and devoted myself to MY ART.
By the end of six months, I had earned $250 performing my now world famous act The Dairy Queen (last seen by 10,000 people in Franklin Roosevelt Square in Sao Paulo) on the dining table for the birthday party of one of the architects of Federation Square, and things were looking grim.
I opened a (cheap botte of red) at 10am the next morning, I wrote a list called “25 Things to Stave off Despair”, number 17 was a little cabaret show in the back room of a pub, and we won our first Green Room Award and a Melbourne Fringe Award.
Two Cabaret Awards. Game back on!
Accolades don’t define your value or the value of your art or your future potential, but they can act like a blood transfusion, a powerful torch on a dark night; a massive injection of YES.
The Tiger Award is an encouragement to go higher, wilder, rarer. And we all know how rare Tigers are. It’s the Finucane & Smith Sofitel Melbourne On Collins Solo Artist Award for an artist whose ethos, current work and future potential is extraordinary.
It’s untied and gives the recipient $1,000, a week in a studio, and a week at Sofitel to dream among the clouds. The recipient reflects extraordinary qualities front stage and back; talent, integrity, hard work, commitment, genuine and heartfelt engagement with audiences, and a demonstrated belief in the equality of humans, and shares the Sofitel values of passion for Excellence, Essence of Pleasure with a Spirit of Openness
In 2013 we became the very first Australian company to be invited to Latin America’s most prestigious arts festival the Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires, and they loved us.
The audience called me “La Diosa” (The Goddess) which was so out of the park for me, Argentina’s major national theatre critic compared us to Beckett, Ionesco, Jarry, and discussed our work in relations to Artaud’s philosophies. We met, we embraced, we danced, we drank, we ate, we talked and we fell in love. And by last year we were performing in front of 10,000 people in the Praca Franklin Roosevelt in Sao Paulo. We had just closed our 10th anniversary season last year when we received an email from Havana, asking us to join in their passionate conversation of art, solidarity, intercultural dialogue and “theatre as a lived reflection of who we are”.
Were we going to say no? No! So Glory Box La Revoluciόn was born.
Direct from standing ovations across five continents, with ears still ringing from 10,000 screaming Brazilians in Sao Paulo, The World’s Most Provocative Variety Show returns to Melbourne for one last hurrah before it struts out indefinitely!
Get ready for the diva-encrusted multi-awarded, overproof cocktail of smoky sirens and sizzling circus, rock’n’roll showgirls, swinging pearls, flying hoops, demon dance, full frontal art, and jewel smattered soul.
Led by Queen Provocateur Moira Finucane, this is cabaret pumped up off the dial. Variety with a vengeance chock full of Franken-routines, razor sharp humour, and unleashed energy, with electrifying stars gathered from the global galaxy of underground clubs and salons all set to a wildly eclectic soundtrack the French call ‘ze party mix to die for’.
Every season of Glory Box is a mix of treasures and adventure, wild new acts and all-time favourites, and this year is wilder than ever. Seat yourself in our salon under the golden canopy of the antique Melba Spiegeltent, and let Moira Finucane’s massive black wings touch you, countertenor diva Mama Alto purify you, the nude abandon of Azaria Universe thrill you, Holly Durant freak you, Clare St Clare’s haunt you, and Rockie Stone fly above you. Literally. Cuban lullabies, rock ‘n’ roll, nudity, and wild abandon.
Finucane & Smith’s Glory Box La Revolucion
August 20 – September 13