Game of Thrones: A Burlesque

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Excerpt from the A Clash of G-Strings‘ facebook promotional post

 

It’s that time of year again: that’s right, winter is coming, but so is an all-new edition of Game of Thrones Burlesque! Canada’s first annual Game of Thrones-themed burlesque show is back, with 100% BRAND-NEW ACTS and 2 back-to-back shows! Valar morghulis…but on November 29th, all men (and women) must STRIP!

The Spectatorial’s Lara Thompson quizzed burlesque bombshell and show runner Scarlett LaFlamme on how the idea for a GoT-style burlesque started, tidbits about what we can expect from her troupe’s epic performance, as well as how on earth they put together those fantastical costumes!

What is burlesque? What makes it distinct as a way of performing?

Burlesque can incorporate a variety of different performance elements, but what makes it distinct and defines it as burlesque to me, in 2015, is the striptease element. My simple definition of burlesque is that it is a theatrical striptease, because no matter what other elements are added (e.g. props, dance techniques, singing, circus arts, etc.), a burlesque act will involve a striptease (down to pasties and underwear) and the tease, the story of the act, will be the main focus rather than the reveal.

How did you conceive of this performance? 

I became hooked on Game of Thrones in 2012, after binge-watching season one. One day while I was procrastinating on Facebook, I saw that someone had posted a violin cover of the Game of Thrones theme, which I couldn’t stop listening to. Because this is the way my brain responds to music I like, I started thinking about doing a Daenerys Targaryen burlesque act. I then decided I would need a giant dragon prop, and that in order to justify it, maybe I should do an entire Game of Thrones-themed show! I had produced smaller themed shows with a troupe before, but this was something I really wanted to do on my own. I reached out to other known Game of Thrones fans in the burlesque community and found that everyone was really enthusiastic, so I produced my first solo show, which has now become a yearly tradition and the favourite thing of mine that I’ve ever done.

This particular performance this year was inspired by events that happened in season five of the show based on the book A Dance with Dragons. I don’t want to give anything away, but all of the acts this year are brand-new and reflect that season and book.

Is anyone in your company a fan of the books as well? 

I would say more than half of us are, and we discuss nerdy theories together. I started reading the books after finishing the second season of the show, because I couldn’t stand not knowing what happened next, and I finished them before I produced the first Game of Thrones burlesque. I actually just reread the last two books to remind myself of the nuances.

What can you tell me about what to expect from the performance?

This show is both a tribute to and parody of the TV series Game of Thrones. You’ll see creative, story-heavy acts, with people having gone all-out on their costumes and some even recording songs. We even have an aerial silks burlesque act! The show will be mostly hilarious (some acts will be a bit darker), and although we can’t match the level of nudity on the HBO show, it will be sexy. We also have a beautifully absurd finale that I’m really excited about.

Who is your favourite Game of Thrones character?

Daenerys Targaryen. I love her journey from scared, meek little girl to one of the strongest women in the Seven Kingdoms. I love her convictions and that she really wants to make the world a better place, even though she screws up sometimes. I also really love that, although she’s a completely badass character, she goes against the “strong female warrior” archetype by not having to have her femininity or sexuality stripped away in order to be powerful.

Is there a noticeable difference in the audience demographics and attitudes/reception when the performances are themed vs. not?

Yes, absolutely. You get a lot of people who have never seen a burlesque show before and maybe otherwise would have never ended up seeing one. Our audience is probably more Game of Thrones fans than burlesque or theatre fans. The reception is wonderful, because they get all the inside jokes, and they can tell that we all love Game of Thrones as much as they do. They love seeing their favourite characters portrayed in such a fun, satirical way. It’s a mutual lovefest. Themed shows are my favourite ones to produce and perform due to the audiences.

What goes into making your costumes for the themed show? Which elements of a character do you choose to recreate?

I generally try to do a burlesque version of the character’s costume, rather than an exact replica—first of all, for practical reasons it needs to be something I can strip out of, and also because stage costumes and television costumes are often very different because they read differently on screen due to things like lighting and other factors. For my first Dany costume, for example, I based it on seasons one and two’s Dothraki outfit, but it was too raggedy for a burlesque costume, so I chose different fabric and covered the whole thing with Swarovski crystals, so it would show up in the dark lighting of the initial venue I used for the show.

This time around, I am actually wearing a pretty exact replica of the cape dress she wore for most of season five (made by Brook Alviano Creations: http://www.brookalviano.com/about.html) because it’s beautiful and burlesque-appropriate and I can use the cape to my advantage. As for what’s underneath, I still have the burlesque mentality of needing to bling some things up, even when doing a themed show. Tanya Cheex, who plays Cersei in this show, taught me that for burlesque, everything needs to be exaggerated “x10,” so even though Daenerys probably wouldn’t wear sequined and fringed undergarments, I’m going to. It’s a reminder that this is a parody.

One Night only on Nov. 29th!

Location: Revival Bar, 783 College St.

Early show: 7:00 p.m. (doors at 6:30)

Late show: 9:30 p.m. (doors at 9:00)

TICKETS ON SALE NOW (gotburlesque4.brownpapertickets.com)

$15 Standing room ($20 at the door)

$20 General admission seated ($25 at the door)

$40 VIP theatre seating (first 2 rows)

$50 VIP booth (Awesome booth up front. **NOW ONLY AVAILABLE FOR EARLY SHOW; 6 SEATS LEFT.** Please note you will be sharing with other fans.)

PLUS: Get your GOT-style caricature done by MAESTER CARICATURIST!

Audience cosplay encouraged!

 

This interview has been edited for length.

 

 

 

-Contributed by Lara Thompson

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Barbarella: Space Angels and other “Great Ideas”

barbarella_drawing
Illustration by Abja Chaudhry

Science fiction is marvelous: from the machinations and imaginative grandeur of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series to the quip-y, flashy action of J.J. Abrams’ incarnation of Star Trek, the genre continues to ever evolve. However, as most must, it has also gone through phases of cringe worthy atrocity. Before the 1970s, most science fiction tended to fall under the umbrella of ‘space opera’.  Much like ‘spaghetti westerns’, ‘space opera’ was originally a term meant to deride and mock the tropes that characterized the genre. Faraway planets, burly heroes, space battles and voluptuous women graced the covers of many a magazine. When Star Trek played every week on T.V, there was at least one instance per episode of Captain Kirk ripping his shirt, punching someone, or passionately embracing a beautiful human or alien (or a combination of the three) – and this most definitely qualified as what most understood to be ‘space opera’. As the rules of fame go, once something becomes popular enough, someone will inevitably parody it. This was one of the apparent purposes of the 1968 film Barbarella.

 Directed by Roger Vadim and starring a very young Jane Fonda, Barbarella features all the devices found in space opera at the time. Sweeping shots of alien worlds, a collection of very buff men (all in various states of undress), ray-gun fights, and extremely beautiful women abound. The heroine, Barbarella, is a space bounty hunter on the trail of Dr. Durand Durand to recover the Positronic Ray, which could potentially enable genocide. On the way, she meets Mark Hand the Iceman, Pygar the angel-man, The Great Tyrant Queen, and eventually Durand Durand.  Each character embodies some separate element of space opera. Mark Hand is the cynical and hirsute space man, strong and Han Solo-esque. Pygar is the innocent and ethereal being, brought low by humanity. The Great Tyrant Queen is the dictator, prepared to take over worlds in her quest for power. Lastly, Dr. Durand Durand is the technology-mad scientist, focused only on the next advancement with no regard to consequence.

Barbarella herself is the ‘woman-who-seems-to-find-herself-in-situations-involving-ripped-clothes-and-a-ray-gun’. She usually manages to stumble out of trouble by sleeping with her opponent or ally, and anything she achieves is done through the use of her ample (yet somehow innocent) charms. Avidly sexist, yes, but incredibly entertaining nonetheless. The film is in no way meant to be taken seriously. It is an LSD trip of appalling special effects, 60s references (i.e. Durand Durand anyone?), barely-veiled sex monikers (one character is hilariously named “Dildano”), and dialogue could have been written by monkeys who were originally trying for Hamlet. One such gem of a dialogue is “a good many dramatic situations begin with screaming….”

In a movie where the opening scene is of Jane Fonda writhing in zero gravity, removing her space suit to a soundtrack incredibly reminiscent of Star Trek: The Original Series’ opening titles, any semblance of coherence is not expected. And in that, Barbarella delivers.  Whether or not on purpose, the film manages to gleefully poke fun at all the common space opera images, with special attention paid to those that allowed the director to make Jane Fonda wear a bikini. Campy and inappropriate, crass and misogynistic, Barbarella was perhaps the first film to spoof the space opera genre. Years later, Rocky Horror Picture Show did much the same to horror. Both are appreciated for their unsubtle nods to their respective categories. And so, it is with the wise words of Pygar that I conclude that Barbarella is worth its weight in giggles: “an angel does not make love, an angel is love.”

-Contributed by Rej Ford