This five-star show returns to the Fringe following last year’s success. Set in the world of expressionist painter Otto Dix, as Julia Berber – Anita Berber’s fictional sister, Aletia Upstairs, London’s leading cabaret artiste extraordinaire, performs and sings up a storm. Aletia spoke with The Fountain about what inspired the show and offers suggestions to first-time Fringe performers.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
This will be my sixth time but it is always exciting. I may be one of those addicted souls by now, and yet, I prefer Edinburgh without the festival. I met Kevin Short, the producer, during my first time at the Fringe in 2013. He was my venue captain at the Free Fringe. We remained friends and the brilliant title of this show was entirely his creation.
TF: A Queer Love of Dix certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
It’s set in the Golden Twenties, in the post-World War I Weimer Republic, the world of expressionist painter Otto Dix. The audience might expect to see the dancer Anita Berber as she is the poster image, but it is the not-so-famous Berber sister who relays songs like Alabama Song, Falling in Love Again, Pirate Jenny, Barbara Song, Lavender Song and I Am A Vamp and relates the Weimar Republic to contemporary events with a fair balance of pathos and comedy as well as audience singalongs – all in a very strong German accent. It was written and directed by me with, what I would call, a lot of help from Weill and Brecht.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
The starting point was a call-out from a London venue to create a show about Cabaret and the Weimar Republic, focusing on Jewish Composers, which I applied for, but didn’t get. I’m an archival performance artist and a vintage singer, so this kind of show is something that I had wanted to do for a very long time. I knew most of the songs before I started creating the show. The difficult part was writing the text. It was essential that it had to relate the Weimar Republic to contemporary events. Now, a year after creating it, I keep adapting it, improving it and adding political elements as I come across them in the news – or anywhere else for that matter. What I love about this show is that within the realm of archival performance I get to play an outrageous comic character.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
Not to get too exhausted or drained and burn out. To promote, flyer, network and perform the best quality show you I can. I don’t actually know much about what else will be on yet apart from my sister production – Zombie Zoo, which I’m sure will be superb.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond A Queer Love of Dix?
I want to tour Dix around the UK and Europe…and eventually make some new shows. I think I’ll continue working in archival performance for a long time to come.
You can see A Queer Love of Dix at Hill Street Theatre from 10th – 25th August at 14:00. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com