Aletia Upstairs Presents MATA HARI at Brighton Fringe 2014, May 10-12
Aletia Upstairs presents MATA HARI.
"I'll know how to die." Mata Hari, courtesan/exotic dancer, was a notorious and intriguing figure, and the most famous femme fatale of her day.
In 1917, she was imprisoned, accused of espionage during WWI. Awaiting death by French firing squad, she reflects on her life.
"Mata Hari" means, in Malay, Eye of the Day: the sunrise. London-based cabaret artist Aletia Upstairs investigates and illuminates how Dutch-born wife Margaretha Geertruida Zelle re-invented herself as Mata Hari: woman of mystery, the first exotic dancer of Europe, and a temptress who entertained men. We see Mata Hari's art of seduction, inspired by Indonesian temple dance, complete with veils and exotic headpieces.
"I learned two things in Indonesia: the power of my beauty over men, and the power of a dance...with every veil I threw off, my success rose. Pretending to see my dances as very artistic...they came to see nudity." She created a mythology around herself, and became the most desirable woman in Paris. Mata Hari was much admired by officers, for whom she had a particular passion. During World War I, she was accused of accepting German money to spy on the French.
"But I beg you to believe me, I never did a single act of espionage against France." Recruited as a counter-spy in a trap to execute her, she was sentenced to death. She faced it bravely -- standing upright, even wearing her corset. Mata Hari saw her death as her final performance.
"I will defend myself, and if I must fail, it will be with a smile of profound contempt." Proved posthumously (1985) to have been framed by the French, German and British intelligence, Mata Hari was possibly punished for her sensuous, licentious lifestyle.
Written by Aletia Upstairs and Dean Stalham, based on verbatim words taken from letters and interviews with Mata Hari, this cabaret is interspersed with songs in French and Dutch. Selections include "My Death", "25 Minutes To Go", and Aletia's own compositions "She Cries" and "Catch Me When I Fall". Directed by Dean Stalham. Accompanied by Fergal O'Mahony.
Aletia Upstairs is a South African born singer-songwriter and recording artist, with an MA in Performance Design and Practice from Central St. Martins, focusing on intercultural cabaret.
For tickets, visit http://boxoffice.brightonfringe.org/theatre/5702/mata-hari. The show plays Saturday (10), Sunday (11) , Monday (12) May at 21:45.