OK, get your dirty little minds out of the gutter…this isn’t about what you think it is. A Queer Love of Dix: Otto Dix Weimar Cabaret, is a 60 minute performance piece by London based Capetonian, Aletia Upstairs, cabaret artiste extraordinaire. The show is set in the post-World War Weimer Republic, which existed after the Armistice until Hitler grabbed power in 1933. There was a cultural and artistic explosion in Germany particularly in the Goldene Zwanziger or Golden Twenties, up to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Avant-garde and revolutionary expressions in art, music, film, literature thrived and personal freedoms flourished. In the heyday of the Weimar Republic, there were nearly 100 gay bars in Berlin frequented by gay men and lesbians, according to ‘Queer Identities and Politics in Germany, A History 1880-1945’.
The performance is set the world of the expressionist painter Otto Dix, and Aletia Upstairs plays the role of Julia Berber, the fictional sister of Anita Berber who was a German dancer, actress and writer who was the subject of the Otto Dix painting, Girl in Front of the Mirror whichis used in the show. A Queer Love of Dix was devised for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, for which she received 5 –star reviews. It is an exploration of songs by Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and other popular Weimar cabaret songs including Falling in Love Again, Alabama Song and I Am a Vamp.
The starting point for this show was a call-out from a London venue, with very specific criteria to create a show about Cabaret and the Weimar Republic, focusing on Jewish Composers, for which Aletia applied for, but it didn’t get selected. But the germ of an idea was planted and the Edinburgh Fringe was the ideal place for it to blossom. Aletia told Mumble Magazine: “This kind of show is something that I had wanted to do for a very long time as it really fits my performance style. The difficult part was writing the text which had to relate the events of the period of the Weimar Republic to contemporary events…and the character of Julia. The poster image is a Dix painting rather than an image of me. It was a new process for me – starting to work from the poster image backwards. Am I going to be her?”
Obviously the acclaim she received at the Edinburgh Fringe proves she did it right! Theatre and cabaret lovers in Cape Town will get only one chance to see this masterful show which Aletia Upstairs delivers with passion and humour at appropriately enough, Alexander Upstairs. Alexander Bar has more than a touch of Berlin’s Kit Kat Club with its vintage décor and working rotary phones on each table from which you can call the bar with your drinks order. You might not see Sally Bowles, but you will see Aletia Upstairs and other Bohemian types.
Otto Dix Weimar Cabaret • Running Time: 60 minutes
Written, directed and performed by Aletia Upstairs (with a lot of help from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht)
Friday 28th December, 9.00pm Alexander Bar, 76 Strand St, Cape Town
To Book online: https://alexanderbar.co.za/show/queerloveofdix/