In Conversation With: Kaitlyn Rogers of ‘Can I Get An Amen?!’

One of our highlights at Tulpa from the latest Fringe was Can I Get an Amen?! by Kaitlyn Rogers. The Fringe is over and Kaitlyn’s already at the Melbourne Comedy Festival to take her show to another audience. We decided to get in contact with her to find out more about what went into making the show, what her experiences of the Fringe were, and what’s next.

 

Considering the nature of the show, our first question was:  Do you intend to have the audience leave the show with any particular thought/feeling in mind?

 

I hope that the audience leaves feeling empowered, uplifted and compelled to question, discuss and challenge the world around them.

Once we leave childhood we are conditioned to behave in a very specific way. We’re forced into a way of life that defines success through materials and money. We forget and deny ourselves the pleasure of play. We forget to celebrate the little things. I don’t think that breeds genuine happiness. I can only speak from my own experiences and beliefs but that’s why I created this show. I invite the audience to question the “perfect” society in which we live in. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Or do some things need to change? And if so, how?

Therefore, in the short time I have with the audience I invite them into a world where it is safe to play, nothing is wrong, any offer, gesture, opinion is valid.

 

Tulpa: How scripted, or alternatively spontaneous, is your performance? How much do you let the audience direct where you go with the performance?

 

Everything is determined by the audience. The “script” remains the same – although how exactly it is played is a reaction to the audience.

Originally, Can I Get An Amen?! was devised through improvisation. I would spend hours in a room by myself trying to make myself laugh. The things that I found funny would make it into the script. However, Can I Get An Amen?! has changed dramatically over this past year and I have the audience to thank for that. In Edinburgh, it was a late-night comedy party show. At Melbourne Fringe, I delved deeper into what I think are important questions.

As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve found that there are more issues that I want to discuss. I’ve developed my own method to the madness. I am very aware of where the show begins and where I need the audience to be by the end however the character I play is discovering these things in the moment, that’s the challenge. It’s always risky because every night is different with a different audience. However, the heart of the show has been very carefully crafted, I believe that the audience wants to hear it and therefore we always reach that point.

 

But the show had more to it than its humour. We felt compelled to ask: The serious moments of the show were powerful and emotionally arresting – how do you ensure this works as it does?

The serious moments of the show have happened organically as a reaction to the current times we’re living in right now. Times up.

When that part of the show started to emerge it was completely improvised in the moment and was extremely emotional and powerful. I’m always nervous and apprehensive of that part of the show

because I’m always scared whether the audience will let me go there emotionally. However I believe that part is the heart and core of the show, and over time I’ve been able to carefully craft moments in order to reach a point where I can safely facilitate a discussion with a central question that I’m very passionate about.

The serious moment is also my story; my truth. It’s where the comedy ends and the real me is exposed. And I think that’s what hits home with the audience.

 

Tulpa: Why did you choose the shows/music you chose for the show?

 

It all relates to the central theme of sass. When I first started devising the show I would play music, improvise and then write a script. Music plays a huge part because I wanted all the music to be from a specific time period (90s) and feel sassy and funky. Mostly I wanted it to make people feel like they wanted to dance and create a party vibe.

 

Finally, across all her Fringe shows and experiences, we asked: How did you find the experience of mounting a Fringe show? Were there any things you didn’t expect?

 

It’s been the most incredible, challenging, wonderful, hardest and best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I love and sometimes loathe the fringe. Part of me wants to ride the fringe forever in any capacity I can and another part of me wants to run away and live in a forest. It’s like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce.

I performed Can I Get An Amen?! for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. My first solo show. My first comedy show. My first self-produced show at the biggest arts festival in the entire world. So, I’ve learnt a lot.

Most importantly: work hard and don’t be an arsehole (apologies). I’ve learnt that each festival is different and must be tackled in a different way. But the greatest thing is making great mates with artists, technicians, venue managers, front of house, bar staff, and the audience. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the friends I’ve made.

 


Questions by Liam McNally

Thanks to Kaitlyn Rogers and Mitchell McKay.

Tulpa Looks Back Over A Month of Fringe

Another year and another Fringe has passed us by. Hundreds of acts, some of which we at Tulpa were lucky enough to go and see. A festival of passionate creatives, wonderful venues, and great celebrations of art – the Fringe is a month in which the arts take over the city. After all of this, the Tulpa team got together to enjoy and share our memories of a remarkable series of arts events.

Reviewing over thirty shows, and going to several more, we at Tulpa were able to enjoy a busy and thrilling few weeks. Recently, in the wash-up from the several weeks of late nights and enjoyable oddities, we decided to discuss what we thought of the famed Mad March.

tix-pic.jpg
Just a selection of Fringe tix.

We nominated our favourite shows of the Fringe. For Taeghan Buggy, it was The Displaced of which ‘the comedic strangeness, attention to space, and skill of the performers was top notch’. For Liam McNally, How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker, a unique performance running a broad and deep range of experiences. Kayla Gaskell recalls her favourite shows as ‘a toss-up between the sexy-circus of Fuego Carnal (which I saw independent of reviewing), the classy cabaret of Anya Anastasia (which will be showcased at the Port Noarlunga Arts Centre in August), and of course, the magical musical theatre production, Little Shop of Horrors.’ Simone Corletto elects The Adelaide Office Live as her own personal favourite show.

 

The Fringe brings with it a lot of interesting shows that offer unique experiences. Where else would one have the opportunity to stroke would a 17th century man get you to stroke their sword, as was Lisandra Linde’s experience at Deviant Women: Julie d’Aubigny? Or perhaps at The Bacchae, where as Teaghan Buggy recalls, they ‘got all the men to leave the room for the final scene because they “did not have permission to see it”’, to which Taeghan adds, ‘It was so odd because that’s never happened in a play before but it was also a really great moment with the play.’ Simone notes as one of the more remarkable events of the 2018 Adelaide Fringe as when the city got its Seymour Skinner on with North Terrace’s ‘lights installation and basking under the aurora borealis, at this time of year, in this part of the country, located entirely in our museum courtyard’.

A month-long series of remarkable shows and special oddities that very certainly did not disappoint with well over one thousand shows, the Fringe was an event we all got some remarkable experiences from. Shows aplenty, Adelaide utterly transformed into the global arts hub for a city, we looked back on our shared and separate memories with fondness and another eleven months to wait until our city is once again transformed. Taking in a host of comedy, cabaret, theatre, arts installations and other thought-provoking events, the Fringe opened up a wonderful host of local and imported artists to bring their respective stories to Adelaide to share. Where else would you find a velvet-clad Shakespeare, a nun-burning pirate, and The Office come to Adelaide?

 


Words by Liam McNally with Simone Corletto, Taeghan Buggy, Kayla Gaskell, and Lisandra Linde.

Maggot

Maggot is plainly and simply one of those oddities the Fringe is so good at offering up. Confusing, bizarre, and thoroughly enjoyable, it’s a show to seek out in its short run at Raj House. The three performers, Elle Wootton, Angela Fouhy and Freya Finch, offer up a series of unusual characters in truly strange situations, with some characters recurring throughout the sketch series.

It’s a polished performance but the quick wit of the performers allows for unexpected events and audience responses to add to the show rather than interfere. I’m somewhat at a loss of how to describe the show as it sits apart quite separate from nearly anything else. Using enigmatic sketches and blurring the lines between scenes, it has something Monty Python like about it and something quite like British cult classic Absolutely Fabulous. Maggot is never derivative, though. It is, unashamedly, utterly, its own thing and all the better for it. It expertly plays to the three performers’ substantial talents.

The show is delightfully strange, confusing, and absurd. A thorough triumph of absurdist comedy like this is a rare treat. They kept the audience laughing from beginning to end with their unique blend of absurdist comedy.

Plenty of audience interaction ensures everything is kept fresh and unpredictable which seems the perfect state for a performance of this nature. The venue, the Board Room at Raj House, keeps the setting close and only aids in breaking down the barriers between performer and audience, between one sketch and the next, between the normal and the bizarre. This show takes the audience to a strange and wonderful place that is at times too weird to fully understand, but always enjoyable.

If you’re prepared to delight in the strange and let your expectations be frequently thwarted, this is the show for you.

 


Words by Liam McNally

4 stars.

Maggott is playing at RAJOPOLIS on March 18. Tickets available here.

Sense and Spontaneity

Presented by Esther Longhurst and Jess Mess, Sense and Spontaneity is an improv show which changes night to night. In true Jane Austen fashion however, the women keep to the traditional problems facing Austen women: they are headstrong and in want (or just lacking) a husband.

 

Thursday’s show began with an interview, of sorts, as two audience members were pulled up on stage to outline their relationship and perceptions of one another. This formed the basis for the show, one woman taking on the role of Jessica Smith, a girl who was fierce like stormy water, but also contained like a lake. She was strong minded and strong willed—the perfect Austen heroine.

 

With the heroine created the story just fell into place as Miss Jessica Smith, escorted by her childhood playmate-come-nemesis, Mr. Roberts, travels to London to seek a suitable match in society. Practically a spinster at twenty-four, Jessica is quickly taken in by Mr. Greyhat, a man who admires her strong mind, wit, and creative practices. However, soon after the marriage is announced it is Roberts who reveals that Greyhat isn’t all he seems—a drinker, a gambler, and a Casanova.

 

Interspersed pop-culture references, both Esther and Jess keep the audience on their feet, never knowing whether the show will keep to Austen form or show that not only is poetry the food of love, but so too is dancing as the show fell away into a dance off.

 

With a variety of hats and an easily perceptible change in personalities, both women display their talents in improv with their ability to keep track of their characters and take any malfunctions in their stride. Entirely entertaining.

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell.

 

Four stars.

 

Sense and Spontaneity will be playing at 6:30pm on the 16th, 17th, and 18th of February at the National Wine Centre. Tickets are available here.

Deviant Women: Madame Blavatsky

After a triumphant five-star show about the swashbuckling Julie D’Aubigny, Deviant Women returned to the stage with the story of nineteenth century occultist Madame Helena Blavatsky. This time round the pink puffy dresses were replaced with gothic black gowns and the show had an altogether darker feel. This isn’t to say that it was all serious- it wouldn’t be a Deviant Women stage show without laughter, silly hats and flamboyant acting. All the comedic goods were out on display, bringing a whole lot of fun to this tale of spirits and séances.

Using the same artful storytelling characteristic of their regular podcast, along with some spooky shadow poetry and an on-stage séance, hosts Lauren and Alicia brought Helena’s story to life with flair and attention to detail.

Deviant Women always aims to give the audience as much knowledge as entertainment. As academics, Lauren and Alicia always strive to provide rich biographical detail on the women they talk about. Their biographical run-down of Madame Blavatsky’s life was no different.

Since her childhood in Russia, where the auspicious date of her birth connected her deeply with spirits and other otherworldly beings, Helena was destined to lead a life bound with the occult. Helena rebelled against many of the rigidly moralistic ideals of the nineteenth century. She married but denied her husband sex (a big no-no in the Victorian period) and often chose to travel alone.

During her travels she held séances and decried trickery (like the ghosts in bedsheets and stuffed gloves that were mainstays of many parlour séances). Her interest in other religions led her to adopt many aspects of spiritualist practices from around the world, including Buddhist and Hindu traditions. She was the mother of the new-age movement and founder of Theosophy. She was a woman who accomplished a lot during her life (despite smoking to excess, drinking and a penchant for hashish).

The absolute highlight of the night was the on-stage séance. From inviting an audience member to join in the summoning of a ghost (which did yield a stuffed glove which Lauren used to stroke the volunteer’s face while their eyes were closed), to Lauren emerging in a bed sheet and mask to sweep about the crowd offering an ectoplasm covered arm, the séance was filled with the fun and trickery you’d expect from a Victorian era party.

The Jade was the perfect venue for the cosy but slightly spooky feel of the stage, and the dark lighting and sounds of thunder made for the perfect ambience for a story of the occult.

Deviant Women: Madam Blavatsky was a perfect blend of dark and comedic, of the spooky and the playful. It was a night any Victorian lady or gentleman would be proud of.


Words by Lisandra Linde

Five stars.

For more about Deviant Women don’t forget to check out their podcast or catch their interview with Tulpa and Jess M. Miller’s review of their first stage show: Julie D’Aubigny.

James Donald Forbes McCann: McCann-dle in the Wind

The creator of one of my favourite Fringe shows, Wolf Creek the Musical, as well as The Sound of Nazis the Musical, James McCann returns to the Adelaide Fringe with his latest stand up offering, McCann-dle in the Wind.

Cobbling together anecdotes, observations and self-depreciating ramblings, we are given a real insight into the trials and tribulations of the comedy world. McCann meanders from topics, not always in a logical order, but the journey is nonetheless entertaining.

His strength here lies in the brief inclusions of his musical comedy, especially his song featuring a particular pot plant. His tales of working in a call centre might hit a little too close to home for anyone else who has had the misfortune to find themselves in that environment, including this reviewer, but for everyone else it’s bound to prove a hilarious waypoint.

Rambling, disorganised comedy sets can definitely work as a structure, but it didn’t quite hit the mark this time. There are real gems in this show but the overall set could use a little more polishing to truly take off. Regardless, this is a good show. McCann is a skilled performer with natural charisma. And if you also want an excuse to check out this year’s hottest new venue, Raj House, then this show is certainly a great drawcard.

 


Words by Simone Corletto.

3/5 stars

James Donald Forbes McCann: McCann-dle in the Wind is playing at Rhino at Raj at 8pm every night until March 17th. Tickets available here.

The Birds and the Beats

Let’s talk about sex, baby. That’s the premise of Grant Busé’s show, The Birds and the Beats. Armed with only the basics (mic, guitar, and loop pedal) the Melbourne-based performer welcomes the audience to class and proposes to teach us Sex Ed 101. It’s apparent from the first song, the titular “Birds and the Bees”, that Busé won’t be pulling any punches. He raps verses over looped beats that include lines such as “I’m sick of metaphors, similes, analogies. Let’s talk about sex. Fuck the birds and the bees”, before launching straight into a verse explaining sex, sans the metaphors.

Busé, an actual teacher, takes us on a journey of curiosity via his younger self speaking to his present-day self, asking the kinds of questions he wishes had been answered by his sexual education. His topics (and songs) range from the horrors of intercourse in the animal kingdom to the importance of “no glove, no love”. At one point, a song about BDSM that begins with Busé listing experiences he’s had (with the audience encouraged to woo! if they’ve had a similar experience) becomes a song about a loss of trust. The mood only dips for a moment though because this begets an innuendo-filled segue into a discussion about why we still don’t use condoms.

Performed in the cosy BoardRoom at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House, where the back row is only a few metres from the stage, The Birds and the Beats really does feel like a lesson, or conversation, where the audience readily participates and elicits reactions from the performer. This is encouraged right from the first song in a call and response, then continues as Busé asks the crowd what they wish they’d learnt in Sex Ed (among other questions), and finally when he opens the floor to questions about his own sex life. The result is an intimate atmosphere where it doesn’t feel odd to hear a stranger sing very frankly about their sexual experiences.

Underpinning the hysterical jokes and original songs is an important theme that Busé urges us to take home: we need to be teaching kids more than just the biology of sex. We may have been taught more about playing the recorder at school than informed consent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve sexual education for kids today.

And when class is over, it’s not hard to see why Busé’s musical Sex Ed is such a hit. The Birds and the Beats is an ingenious comedy-music show that will make you laugh ‘til you cry, bemoan your own sexual education, and leave you wondering just how you’ll explain the birds and the bees.

 


Words by Amelia Heffernan.

5 stars

The Birds and the Beats is playing at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House until March 18. Tickets available here.

Can I Get An Amen?!

Firstly, I should say that Can I Get An Amen?! hits upon cultural touchstones I don’t have any background in. I’ve never seen RuPaul’s Drag Race, I’m not particularly familiar with the work of Whoopi Goldberg. It could easily be a case of a good show with the wrong audience member – but not so here. Despite my lack of familiarity with some of the reference material, the show is still a boisterous tour-de-force of ‘sassiness’ and individual strength.

Funny, heartening, and filled with humour that adopts some of the more absurd elements of ritual and religion to great power, this show is extremely funny and thoughtful. Most importantly, it is like nothing you have ever seen before. Led in an odd kind of sermon with a sacred text provided by Whoopi Goldberg, it’s quickly clear you’re in for something unique.

As the elements of ritual and comedy fall to the side to reveal the true heart of the show, the audience was rendered silent. There was a moment of rare truth and stunning honesty that silenced the crowd and drew us all in emotionally.

After all the religious-styled ritual and absurdity, here in this moment we had found what all the previous humour alluded to. The truth of living honestly, being your best self. In that moment I felt myself an unprepared witness for something intense, true, and changing.

All this is not to say the show does not succeed intensely in its comedic goals – it truly does – but there is something extra to it. Something that makes people consider themselves and the world around them. Thought-provoking comedy at its very best, this is one of the truly great highlights of an already excellent Fringe. There’s a lot to be discussed here; a lot to be unpacked, but I would rather not spoil it and leave others to have the surprising and deep experience this show offers.

Kaitlyn Rogers, performer of Can I Get An Amen?! shows an incredible range and depth of talent in this one hour show. To cover as much as her show does with as much success as this, is stunning.

This is comedy for the strong of heart – and, it must be said – liver.

 


Words by Liam McNally

5 stars.

Can I Get An Amen?! is playing at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House until March 18. Tickets available here.

Ethan Andrews: The Youngest I Am Ever Going To Be

In a small room at The Producers (appropriately named “the Niche”) that couldn’t be much more than 5 metres square, and seat forty people at a squishy maximum, Ethan Andrews delivered a performance that was worthy of a venue many more times the size. Despite this show being his debut at the Adelaide Fringe, he still managed to draw a large and diverse audience, and have everyone chuckling for the full 45-minute show.

 

Opening with a few prods at the hopeless nature of New Year’s resolutions — and the existential crises that arise from Golden Gaytimes every first few months of the year — Ethan then moved on to growing up in a town called Singleton, a rural mining community that lives up to its name by having one of the highest ratios of men to women in Australia. With guidance from a questionable self-help book, Ethan decides to follow four steps to find his happiness: leave, stay, do nothing, and accept it. Using these key “steps” he finds himself on the opposite side of the world, in another mining community; let down by the Hemsworth brothers; and single in Singleton wondering why he took the advice of a one-cent self-help book.

 

This show had everybody in the room laughing from the get-go, and captures why Ethan deserves to be the recipient of NSW’s Young Regional Artist Scholarship, instead of the government giving the money to a “country hospital that doesn’t have enough beds.” If you see one comedy show this season, I strongly recommend this be it.

 


Words by Kirsty van der Veer

4½ stars

Ethan Andrews: The Youngest I Am Ever Going to Be is playing at the Niche at The Producers on March 11. Tickets available here.

PO PO MO CO: Nosfer-Arse-Tu

PoPoMoCo’s Nosfer-Arse-Tu is a rollicking, fabulous force of queer ass (pun intended) pantomime. The show is presented by an upcoming queer-clown group known for this very particular brand of off the wall, yet socially acute, humour. Nosfer-Arse-Tu is a not-so-classical retelling of ‘man goes on a journey and winds up at a dark and mysterious castle’. Narrated by naughty-nurse Regina (rhymes with vagina), the Doctor protagonist is on a ‘frivolous homosexual adventure’ and is followed by his wife who’s bored of waiting at home.

A cast of strange and creepy characters support the story, not the least of whom consist of an actual face for a vagina complete with disco-ball clitoris – the appearance of whom was one of the funniest parts of the show. The face-vagina is not the only animated body part; the ‘arse’ of Nosfer-Arse-Tu comes into play. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such a well animated arse only using giant googly eyes, a pair of plastic lips, and some hands. The sheer farce of it was side-splitting.

The show is quite pacey, and Nurse Regina keeps everything moving to naturally facilitate scene changes. Her dialogue with the audience ensures that they stay engaged even when some of jokes miss the mark and the audience was kept laughing to the brink of tears.

The show isn’t just funny. As my friend, who saw it with me, pointed out; Nosfer-Arse-Tu features some fantastically indulgent love for femme sexuality and beyond the jokes, it also makes a point of making “receptive” sexuality active rather than passive. The contrast between ‘women downs down for so long her fingers are pruney’ verses ‘man fall asleep straight after receiving pleasure’ was a complete crack-up to watch. LGBTQIA+ references abound throughout the show and the actors seem to delight in undermining heterosexual narrative norms.

This just a bloody-good-fun show to watch overall; audience engagement with the actors abounds, farce is the order of the day, and rude-and-naughty humour comes with every second line. If you’re here for a good time, but not necessarily a long time, be sure not to miss PoPoMoCo’s Nosfer-Arse-Tu.

 


Words by Taeghan Buggy

4 stars.

PO PO MO CO is playing at RAJOPOLIS at Raj House until March 18 (excluding Mondays). Tickets available here.