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Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery

By | Published on Monday 20 August 2018

The Fringe Wives Club brings together physical comedy queen Tessa Waters, musical comedy star (and one half of EastEnd Cabaret) Victoria Falconer and top comedian and storyteller Rowena Hutson for an all-singing, all-dancing cabaret extravaganza with a political agenda.

Promises the blurb for their show ‘Glittery Clittery’: “The Fringe Wives are ready to smash the patriarchy with the full force of their combined, unquestionable talent and an empowering live soundtrack”. Following successful runs at festivals in Australia, the Club has come to the Edinburgh Fringe and we had to find out more.

CC: Tell us a little more about the ‘Glittery Clittery’. What can we expect from the show?
TW: It’s a funny, fierce, feminist disco extravaganza! All fuelled by sequins, champagne and an overwhelming urge to smash the patriarchy with the full force of our powers combined. So you can expect banging original songs, ridiculous dance moves, a spot of consensual audience participation and an unapologetic and inclusive celebration!

CC: How did you guys get together as the Fringe Wives Club?
VF: It actually happened right here at the Edinburgh Fringe! The three of us – and many of our Festival performing friends – have been ‘fringe wives’ for a while, that being our nickname for an informal network of performers that look after each other. We’ve each brought our own separate artistic projects to this festival, as well as many other fringes around the world, and we’ve always been the last ones at the artist bar on the dancefloor and the first ones at brunch the next morning, celebrating or commiserating over Bloody Marys.

CC: Why did you decide to make this show?
RH: Conversations between the three of us often turned to the casual misogyny we’d experienced in bars, in the streets or even in comedy dressing rooms. Then there were audience members asking us how they could dance to that Robin Thicke tune without feeling like a bad feminist.

We were hearing more stories from mates of catcalling or one-night-stands that became slut-shaming incidents… and we suddenly knew that we wanted to respond to this behaviour, together as best we could. The ideas for the show then started to develop in January last year.

The weekend we debuted it in Perth was the weekend of the Women’s March. Then came the uncovering of Weinstein and other high profile sexual abusers, and the #MeToo wave, and we realised that we were not the only ones who wanted to provoke significant, lasting change. That this was not going to be a moment, but a movement.

CC: So there’s clearly a strong political message in among the all-singing all-dancing cabaret extravaganza. How important is it that you communicate that message to your audience?
VF: Very important. But we use our particular strengths to get that message across in an open, inclusive and welcoming manner. The comedy, music, games and glittery sequinned outfits means that our crowds are ready to join the party before the party has even begun. And that’s half the battle.

CC: Victoria – Edinburgh regulars will very much remember Fringe favourite EastEnd Cabaret. How does this show compare?
VF: It definitely has that same anarchic flavour that EastEnd shows had. And the vibe is hugely sex- and body-positive, which I put into song and we communicate in a way that gets the audience laughing, raising eyebrows and quickly comfortable with the language. It’s a sexy, outrageous and fun experience, but with a more overt political message than my previous work. Cabaret as a genre is by definition a political act of defiance and this show is just that – but with added disco-dazzle.

CC: This show enjoyed much success in Australia. What made you want to bring it to Edinburgh?
TW: Edinburgh Fringe is the kweeeen festival! To paraphrase Liza, if we can make it here, we can make it anywhere. The world is here, and it’s the largest arts market in the world if you want to give your show a touring life. But it’s a marathon – and how better to run a marathon than with your support team right beside you?

CC: We are past half way – how has it been going?
VF: We have been overwhelmed with the love and support that has come our way this season. We started off with little budget and big dreams, but Fringe-goers have really taken it to their hearts and loins and got on board with what ‘Glittery Clittery’ is all about!

And the conversations we have post-show, the messages on social media, it tells us that people are hungry for shows that are both educating and entertaining. It’s been a wild ride and we’re excited to take it right to the finish!

CC: The audience plays a big role in the show. How to Edinburgh Fringe audiences compare to elsewhere in the world?
RH: Previous seasons for us have been in later timeslots, in circus tents and festival fields. Our audiences were raucous, ready and raring to party. In Edinburgh we chose to go on before 9pm in a gorgeous theatre space. We were a bit worried that it’d be a quieter affair as a result. But this is not the case at all!

They’re whooping from the beginning, volunteering without any qualms, even singing along with our songs, and every show so far has had a standing ovation. We bloody love this festival because the audience – no matter what time of day – are willing to get on the same page as you if you let them. It’s a real gift for a performer and we’re grateful.

CC: What are your plans for the Fringe Wives Club beyond the Festival?
VF: World domination, of course! The show will continue to evolve in response to the state of feminism and equality. And we want to take it to more rural areas in our own countries, to escape the echo chamber and spread the glittery clittery word as far as we can.

Creating versions for other countries is also on the cards – working with local artists to create editions that are tailored to the social and feminist issues experienced there. Everyone can be a Fringe Wife remember. As we say in the show, you can have a dick, but don’t be a dick!

‘Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Glittery’ was performed at Assembly Roxy at Edinburgh Festival 2018.