And then you go (The Vali Myers Project): a performance inspired by the life of Vali Myers

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last night was the world premiere of Victoria Falconer’s Frank Ford Commissioning Award-winning show And then you go (The Vali Myers Project) at Adelaide Cabaret Festival. An Australian who lived in post-war Paris and counted Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau, Django Reinhardt. and Tennessee Williams as friends would surely be someone that everyone would have heard of, right? Strangely no and Victoria Falconer’s show aims to educate but also inspire audiences to explore Vali Myers and her story more.

And then you go (The Vali Myers Project)
Photo: Claudio Raschella

There’s plenty to look at before the show has even begun. Instruments in various places across the stage, and in front of the drum kit all sorts of bohemian paraphernalia. 5 women with red hair (Victoria Falconer, Erin Fowler, Jess Love, Parvyn Kaur Singh, and Ronnie Taheny), all representing Vali Myers, mingle with the crowd. A man with a tail (Will Spartalis), in the role of Vali’s beloved pet fox, jumps between empty chairs in the audience seating quite happy to have pats. A slender dog like a greyhound is getting cuddles from one of the Valis on stage.

 

And then you go (The Vali Myers Project) is an audio-visual feast. While stories are told or songs are performed, images of Vali Myer’s many paintings, drawings and diary entries are projected onto the back of the stage. At times the words in these diary entries parallel the lyrics of the song being performed. It’s difficult to define the style of Vali Myer’s works and perhaps that is so very characteristic of Vali Myers herself. There are animals in many of her works and perhaps even an Indian-like feel to the way the people and animals are painted.

 

There is audience participation but it is brief. Selected audience members are handed wigs, moustaches or glasses to take on the personas of Blondie, Dali and Andy Warhol. Their participation is brief and they are not required to do much at all – so there’s no near to fear sitting in the front row or the chairs on stage for And then you go (The Vali Myers Project). The wider audience is encouraged to dance in their seats by waving their hands in the air taking us into the world of Vali’s wild parties.

 

And then you go (The Vali Myers Project) and her cast of Valis, all with their own musical instruments, allow us to get to know a little more about this woman so few know about. Each takes it in turns telling us about a snippet of Vali’s life or about Vali herself – one for example tells us about dancing being a compulsion. Another tells us about migrating from café to café in Paris, whiling the hours away purely because they “didn’t have anywhere else to go”.

Parvyn Kaur Singh is one of the 5 Valis in the show
Photo: Claudio Raschella

Quotes from Vali are immortalised in songs written by the extremely talented Victoria Falconer, whose baby And then you go (The Vali Myers Project) is. The performance is heavily tilted towards a musical one with a dazzling array of instruments, both the usual keyboard, double bass, and various guitars but also percussion ones not often seen.  Of course, a show partially set in Paris needs an accordion as well which was also present. I don’t think Victoria Falconer’s famed musical saw made an appearance this time though!

 

The music styles differ throughout the show from island rumba/salsa sorts of beats to middle Eastern sounding music that would be perfectly at home at WOMAD festival in Adelaide in March. The Valis perform a song together with their various instruments and voices in perfect harmony. In addition to the 5 Valis who each play an instrument in the show, there are Dylan Marshall on various guitars and Flik Freeman on bass and percussion at the back of the stage, and Jarrad Payne on drums rounding it out.

 

The use of props was quite ingenious. A red rope held at each end by different Valis is transformed into a ballet pole against which other Valis would do their ballet movements. That same red rope was used in a V formation to create the appearance of a boat on which the Valis swayed from side to side. The rope was used a third time, this time for the aerial performance by Jess Love, who climbed the rope by her feet while hanging upside down.

 

The aerial performance was not the usual graceful, peaceful one but rather one in which a frenzied woman struggled to climb higher and higher when the rope was being lowered. Instead of the aerial performances to which we might be accustomed, this one featured a breathless, topless woman, climbing and climbing until she eventually collapses in exhaustion. We’re not sure whether this is meant to be representative or inspired by Vali’s compulsion to dance. It was the only solo performance involving a circus skill. There’s no doubting the skill of Jess Love but It seemed slightly out of place in a show which was far more of the singing, story-telling, instrumental realm.

 

We are sent on our way from And then you go (The Vali Myers Project) with the words of Vali Myers who said that was very interested in what she didn’t know and who said her thing was not knowing. Perhaps this is an encouragement for many in the audience to discover what they don’t know about this Australian woman who merits being more well-known.

4.5 CROISSANTS

Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Cabaret Festival

And then you go (The Vali Myers Project)
Victoria Falconer
Photo: Claudio Raschella

KEY INFO FOR AND THEN YOU GO (THE VALI MYERS PROJECT)

WHAT: And then you go (The Vali Myers Project)

WHEN: Only one show remains, tonight, Saturday 25 June at 9pm

WHERE: Space Theatre, Adelaide

HOW:  Purchase your tickets via this link: https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/events/the-vali-myers-project/

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices (exclusive of booking fee) are as follows:

  • Premium Adult $59
  • A Reserve Adult $49
  • A Reserve Under 30 $30

 

Read our interview with Victoria Falconer about the show, cabaret and more here

 

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Oliver Twist proves himself a powerful storyteller in Jali at Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In Jali, Oliver Twist tells his story from child refugee fleeing his home country Rwanda, waiting in Malawi to be accepted as a refugee, and eventually making it to Australia where he and his family settled in Ipswich. 

Jali Oliver Twist

Jali is a word used in Western Africa to designate a person who narrates history and stories through singing and music. It is another word for the French term griots, but jali is preferred.

 

A story so sad and with moments of violence could easily depress audiences, but Oliver’s story telling finds a way of weaving in comedy among the sadness. Oliver Twist is an inspiring story-teller. The audience hung on his every word. We shared in his heartbreak and his joy. We laughed at the humour in the unlikely places. I wanted to rush on stage and give him a hug when he was sharing his disappointments and suffering. 

 

Jali was held in Adelaide’s Space Theatre where simple lighting showed it had a number of effective uses. Comprised of a single line of stage light bulbs, which change colour (from white, to orange to blue), and which light the whole or parts of the stage depending on the scene. A recurring story that comes up throughout Jali takes place at a lake – the stage is bathed in blue light whenever this story returns. 

 

The set is simple, consisting of two levels of rectangular blocks, the upper ones with ramps down to the middle. Oliver makes the most of this set standing or sitting on different parts or sides of the blocks. 

 

His Dad is Hutu and Mum is Tutsi, a difference that he says didn’t exist before Belgian colonisation of Rwanda. Jali is a story about trying to find a place where you’re welcome and that you can call home. Twist’s family weren’t welcome in Malawi either – and he tells of waking in the early hours of the morning to guns pointed at his head aged 12. Hopes of getting refugee status and accepted by Canada were dashed not once, but twice. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is humour to be found in plenty of parts of his story 

 

Oliver Twist asks the audience “if you had the chance to restart, would you do it differently?”. A show which breaks the usual mould of song based cabaret at Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Oliver Twist shows that he is one of the next generation of important, persuasive and convincing storytellers, or Jalis, to follow. 

5 CROISSANTS

Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Oliver Twist Jali

KEY INFO FOR OLIVER TWIST JALI

WHAT: Oliver Twist “Jali”

WHERE: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide

WHEN: Two more shows remain:

Fri 24 Jun 2022, 9:00PM

Sat 25 June 2022, 6:30PM

HOW: Buy your tickets via this link:

https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/events/oliver-twist/

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are as follows (excluding transaction fee):

  • Premium Adult$44.00
  • A Reserve Adult$39.00
  • Under 30$30.00

 

MORE ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL CONTENT

10 shows with French links at Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2022

Have you never heard of Vali Myers? Victoria Falconer wants to change that

Meow Meow’s Pandemonium with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is orchestrated chaos of the best kind

Cirque Bon Bon is a delicious treat!

Louise Blackwell presents a show about the life and songs of Juliette Greco ‘Love on the Left Bank’

Bad Guy: Hayden Tee examines the bad guy musical role and what it means to be bad

Imogen Kelly delights and moves the audience in La Grande Folie

Bad Guy is the new solo show from Hayden Tee, the nice guy who’s always cast as the villain

Enter the world of Meow Meow’s Pandemonium this weekend

La Grande Folie – can stripping save the world?

Don Juan at Adelaide Cabaret Festival: don’t miss out on this party celebrating the legend

Mario, Queen of the Circus invites you to Cirque Bon Bon

Play French for a night with Don Juan at Adelaide Cabaret Festival

 

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