11 November 2012

Being the Diva

Kate Hosking is Diva Sheila, the Eco Diva. The pic isn’t the Diva: it’s Kate as she relaxes after the show. Diva Sheila is slinky, sultry, in silky black dress. Who is the Diva? Well, although she’s the Eco Diva, she’s not just an eco warrior. She notes that earlier when she argues that we are all part of the environment and it’s part of us, when she recounts coughing in the industrial centre of Philip. Diva Sheila is an exploration of beliefs and philosophies, presumably Kate’s, in the context of the events in which they arose. It’s revealing and intimate, but it’s not embarrassing. It’s an invitation to think with Kate, to explore her experiences and her ethics, and to do it through some humour and some music, both original and covers. At the top, she argues for rationality in place of the “easy options” of prejudice (and who can argue with that) so there’s seriousness. Her later take on ignorance is more about what you know but don’t internalise. The example was racism and the musical expression was a profound take on Strange fruit sung with an accompaniment of sparse bass octaves. Likewise, she explores the experience of refugees, recounting weekly visits to a family in a Melbourne, separated from the father in Perth, an early teen son who absconds then voluntarily returns and eventually takes a heroin habit before the whole family is returned to their place of origin. It’s a hard story and powerful when you hear in personal recounting. But there’s bleak humour amongst devastation. “I’m here for indulgence” is one line, and recounting deportment classes and learning to walk in high heels was enlightening to me as a guy. Strange, this, but her talk of menstruation was less new to me than talk of high heels. It’s a strange, very public world we live in, that such intimacies are common parlance. BTW, the musical associations for high heels were Beyoncé and Bette Midler: that was fun. The show moved fast and I didn’t always catch the connections. I didn’t quite understand how Only 19, the Redgum song of an Australian soldier in Vietnam, fitted in, but I found it the most touching piece on the night. She goes on to explore intersex, prisons and cottontails. She jokes about her Slovenian experiences and the Balkan boys that she toured with in Europe. She sings a Slovenian love song and a lovely take on Mr Bojangles. She smirks and slinks and speaks directly and welcomes a responsive chuckle. She’s been a student of Eric Ajaye and I can see her right hand is strong and long fingered from bass-work as she accompanies her capable and nicely-intoned voice. I shouldn’t be surprised that acoustic bass and voice is so intimate and effective in a theatre setting, but I am. It worked a treat and she carried off the harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment role neatly and effectively. Finally she ends with Lou Reed’s Perfect day, repeating his line “You’re going to reap / just what you sow”. How apt. This was an intimate performance and thoughtful script from Kate Hosking (monologue, vocal, double bass) as Diva Sheila at Street 2.

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