The incomparable Miss Rosie Bitts premieres her show Stories of Love and Passion at Intrepid Theatre’s Uno Fest 2014 and kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
You first performed a solo show on the Fringe circuit in 2011—what did you learn from touring the Fringe that has benefited you as a solo performer?
I toured my first solo show The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts on the Fringe circuit in 2011. That first fringe was like a roller coaster. It was terrifying while I was on it but as soon as I got off I was like ” Let’s do it again!”. That fringe really re-ignited my love of theatre. I was immersed in the burlesque scene and hadn’t been in a play for almost 10 years at that time. I feel like as a burlesque performer I was already primed in some ways to be a solo performer. I was used to creating and executing my own material but being on the fringe circuit brought me back to the joy, the magic of live theatre and reminded me to think out of the box. The fringe brings together performances that you generally don’t get to see on the main-stage at a large theatre. That is the type of work that blows my mind, fires me up and makes me want to keep creating.
Can you describe the process of working with your director Susan Bachner (and how you came to meet)? What are the challenges of working long distance?
I feel incredibly blessed to have Suzanne on this project! I met Suzanne Bachner (my director and dramaturge) on the Fringe circuit in 2011. She was touring with her partner Bob Brader and his wonderful show Spitting in the face of the Devil. I fell in love with them and their show and they became my biggest fans and supporters on the fringe. In the process of writing this show (Stories of Love and Passion) I came up against some hurtles and asked Suzanne for some advice. We just completely clicked so she continued on as my Dramaturge and then my Director. It’s been an absolute joy working with her. We have worked mostly via Skype with 2 intense weeks together, one in September and one in April. Suzanne is an absolute pro, and an incredible writer and director with a sharp and quick insight. I think because of Suzanne’s skill and our creative compatibility we have been able to work really well together despite the distance.
What would you tell a potential audience member who is not familiar with burlesque?
I like to call burlesque the grandma of today’s strippers. As a burlesque performer I still do a strip tease but I only go down to pasties and g-string and it is a strip tease that emulates the old-time strippers from the 1930’s-60’s. Pre-striptease burlesque was known for making a social commentary, poking fun at the upper classes and subverting the expected. In that sense most of my show is a Burlesque.
Can you comment on the role of censorship (audiences practicing self-censorship) as it relates to your performances? Do you feel that words like “adult-themes”, “titillating” turn people away when, if they came, they would enjoy the show?
I think that having terms like “adult themed” and “titillating” are important to shows like mine. My show is not for people who are terribly conservative, there are parts of it that will make people feel uncomfortable. I think people have a right to choose whether they want to see edgy and subversive theatre or not.
At times I’m incredibly frustrated with the type of self-censorship you’re talking about. I certainly feel it when it comes to burlesque. Most Burly shows in this city have something for everyone and even fairly conservative audience members (as long as they’re ok with seeing a little skin) would and do enjoy them. They think they are going to see something far racier than is actually going on and the reaction I end up getting is “Wow, this is burlesque. It’s amazing! It’s nothing like I thought it would be”
What are your plans for this show—are you touring it this summer? Will you be producing the Fresh From The Sexy Factory Festival again this fall?
I have been so blessed with this show from having Suzanne as my Director, being invited to premiere at UNO and before the show has even premiered I was invited to perform the show at the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City in October. Right now I am talking with producers throughout the states and am looking at booking the show in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, L.A.New Orleans, Dallas and Chicago for the fall. I’m hoping to add a few more cities to that list and to tour for about 4 weeks.
Because of this touring schedule Sexy Factory will be on hold this year. If I have time I may produce it as winter festival in January but I have a feeling that I may be travelling a lot with “Stories” over the next couple of years
One night only—Saturday May 31st 10pm* (pay what you can)
Created and performed by Miss Rosie Bitts
Directed and dramaturged by Suzanne Bachner
$20 – 60 minutes – cabaret, burlesque; adult themes