BWW Interview: Sven Ratzke Talks HOMME FATALE at Assembly Hall, Edinburgh
Sven Ratze returns to Edinburgh with his new work Homme Fatale after huge success with his show Starman, which has gone on to tour around the world. Sven chats to BroadwayWorld about the legendary homme fatales who influenced him, including Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Joy Division.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi, I am Sven and I've been a cabaret star for 19 years around the world with my one-man shows. I have performed in shows like Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Cabaret and I also produce my own productions.
What made you want to become a performer in the first place?
I think that's something that is in your blood - you never decide to become a performer! When I was five years old at a party with my parents, they said I was already jumping on the table with curtains and a rope, giving it my all and trying to entertain them and the guests.
I never really gave it any thought - sure, the road I wanted to go down, like - for example - becoming an actor or singer was thought through, but performing was what I was born to do. I am still very much intrigued by theatre, as you're storytelling to audiences in every performance.
Do you always like to commit to projects which have stories at their heart?
I would say so. Starman was a good example of this, as David Bowie was always a good storyteller, and if he were to start now, it would have been difficult for him. His passion for musical theatre and storytelling were a large part of his work and each song was essentially a four-minute story. I am very interested in this creative process.
How did you come up with the idea for the show Starman?
It's been a while since the show was originally conceived, with David Bowie still being alive when it was first performed. Throughout my time as a performer, I have developed and grown - starting off with performing German cabaret, then doing music of the Sixties and going on to perform in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. However, throughout this, Bowie was always around and there in my unconscious.
After doing Hedwig, I looked at the different characters and performances of the Seventies where he was somewhat lost, before becoming himself and the artist he wanted to be in the Eighties. His stories were very personal, and I wanted to give my own interpretation to them.
I then reached out to Bowie directly and his management and they agreed I could do the show, which was a blessing. He did something that wasn't there at that time. He took many risks and constantly re-created and adapted himself through his music, his style, and ultimately took on many challenges.
Now your new show Homme Fatale - what it the basis for this?
I have been called Homme Fatale since I started out and never really understood the meaning. I had heard of femme fatale from film noir and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, whereby a woman seduces and leads a man to fatality. A lot of it had to do with me having a feminine side and becoming a seducer on stage.
This is my most personal show, and Bowie still influences it in the form of his storytelling and the need to do something different. The show has many songs from Fatale men in pop - from Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and of course, David Bowie. It's also interspersed with original music alongside stories and banter.
How do you make the song choices - do the songs lead the show or do the stories you tell dictate the songs chosen?
With Starman, the music was chosen first, as Starman has such a mix of songs and a plot was conceived based around these, but for Homme Fatale, the story was key, and I created music based on subjects I wished to explore.
In the end, you wind up with so much content and then you must cut it down to create the best show for the audience. This is what I hope has been I delivered, and I look forward to sharing this with audiences.