Having received five-star reviews at the Sydney Opera House, political cabaret Hot Brown Honey transfers to the Edinburgh Fringe with the intention of “calling out the patriarchy, smashing stereotypes and having a riotous time doing it.”
The show features South African born Busty Beatz as the Musical Director and the Queen Bee, Samoan Australian Director, designer and firecracker performer Lisa Fa’alafi, Togan soul-singer, storyteller and visual artist Ofa Fotu, Australia and New Zealand’s most renowned female beatboxer, Maori artist Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami, Proud Indigenous Australian dancer Juanita Duncan and Crystal Stacey of Indonesian decent and whose credits include acclaimed circus company Circa.
Hot Brown Honey performs at Assembly Roxy Central from the 3rd – 28th of August, with breaks on the 15th and 22nd.
Theatre Bubble: What was the inspiration for Hot Brown Honey?
Busty Beatz: Hot Brown Honey was born of the desire to see more (much much more) hot black, brown and mixed bodies on stage. Our inspiration comes from Intersectional Feminism, theatre as a vehicle for social change and the original definition of Burlesque, ie a joke, ridicule or mockery, as well as our personal experiences of being Black, Brown and Mixed women intersecting on stolen land known as Australia. Intra-cultural conversations, humour and connections to women who have come before us are central to the work. From Audre Lorde’s poetry and insights to Aboriginal Artist and Human Rights activist Lilla Watson, to the written and spoken word of Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche and the music and visuals of FKA Twigs as well as the stories of our great grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers. Phenomenal Women!
TB: What brought the diverse team behind Hot Brown Honey together?
BB: As artists we exist on the edges, fringes and margins so the mainstream gates remain closed to us, however it’s on the edges where we create vital art. It’s on the fringes where we critique the status quo, dismantling and redefining our identities through brilliant creativity. It’s on the margins where we become advocates for each other’s work. We find ways to include each other, work together and raise each other up. Hot Brown Honey started as a club night for Black, Brown and Mixed women to tell their stories – those of us that do not fit the boxes or adhere to the tropes that are so limited across the stage, page and screen for Women of Colour. We have found so many astonishingly talented Honeys throughout Australia and the world who are so down for smashing stereotypes and shattering perceptions through creativity! Hot Brown Honey is our attempt to break through those gates. To play the stages as the leads, to gather some of our talented sisters and give voice and reclaim stories from misconstrued, twisted images that bombard our televisions and newspapers while having a shitload of fun doing it. We have created a space to tell our stories and create theatrical representations to counter and dismantle structural oppression, stereotypes and daily micro-aggressions. It is the space where we decolonise and rematriate. It is where we re-imagine our identities and our world as a Matriarchy. Word to the Mother!
TB: How have audiences reacted to the show so far?
BB: We know that audiences want to see more of their communities reflected on stage. It’s a given. From the feedback, the mix of art, politics and culture is exciting to audiences. People are coming away feeling empowered to do something. While we use this platform to tell our stories, we are also inviting audiences in, teasing them into interrogating their own views. We ask them to stand and shout, to make noise, to make change. And they do! It even shocks us when we see an entire crowd on their feet shouting, dancing, and celebrating with us – celebrating representation, diversity and our intersecting identities, as Black Brown and Mixed women, as women of First Nations Heritage, as Women of Colour, as empowering, fierce, talented phenomenal women. Our Black, Brown and Mixed sisters have been incredibly supportive and their feedback has been humbling. To hear that our experiences are shared by so many is uplifting. We are amassing a huge amount of women willing to spread the word, helping with everything from sewing costumes; design skills and social media shout outs. Creators are writing papers, drawing comics, writing songs and making art. Together we make noise!
TB: Your press release mentions “taking down the master’s house with the master’s tools” – I’d love to hear more about this, and how it relates to your interdisciplinary style, which fuses Hip Hop politics, dance, poetry, comedy, circus, striptease and song
BB: Hot Brown Honey uses familiar devises and forms that we are highly skilled in and rolled them into cultural expressions that speak to us. As theatre makers we use the idea that theatre is a place we know audiences come for artistic connection. The stage can also be sterile and uninviting for us, as Women of Colour, as feminists, as culturally and linguistically diverse people as well for our audiences. So we get right in there and flip the script. We create our world within the space – loud, vivid and unapologetic with a booming soundtrack drawing from hip-hop, funk and soul, dance that stems from our own cultural backgrounds. We have made deliberate choices in how we use particular forms and play on preconceptions of genres such as Hip Hop, Burlesque and Cabaret to lure in with humuor and satire. We then wow with skill and execution and finally slap with the hard stick soaked with reality – our reality. We explore western tropes for Women of Colour and explode them in a dazzling style. By placing ourselves centre stage we then use this platform and the moment to shine a light on micro-aggressions, privilege, complicit behaviour, social justice, equality, our truths and our lives. In a time when movements like #blacklivesmatter are hitting our Facebook feeds asking everyone to examine their own position, we are adding to this conversation. Hot Brown Honey represents a unique point of view coming out of Australia that isn’t blue eyes, Neighbours, Home and Away unreality. In the Words of Audre Lorde “The masters tools will never dismantle the masters house” In the case of Hot Brown Honey, we have stolen the keys, turned up the beats and started a riot.
TB: What are you looking forward to most about the Edinburgh Fringe?
BB: We cannot wait to be completely engulfed by the Creative Revolution. It’s on people! In the words of Salt–N–Pepa : “Ah, Push It..Pick Up on This!” I am really looking forward to Hot Brown Honey working in partnership with Samoan artist Mary Ann Talia Pau’s international weaving project, One Million Stars to End Violence. We will have an installation and will conduct star weaving workshops. The stars are symbols of light, courage and solidarity to end all forms of violence, violence against women, bullying and racism. We are going to weave some magic and invite audiences to do the same. Fighting The Power Never Tastes so Sweet.
Buy tickets for Hot Brown Honey here.