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Q&A/The Festival Sessions/Cabaret/Fringe World Festival/Music/Musical Theatre

More than a tribute

14 January 2021

There’s no shortage of tribute shows at Fringe World. But emerging writer/performer Sylvia Cornes does more than simply present the songs of Rickie Lee Jones and Françoise Hardy in her two Fringe shows… she also delves into their lives, careers, relationships and artistry.

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Born and based in Boorloo (Perth), Sylvia Cornes has performed locally and abroad. Previous Fringe World appearances include performing in the winner of Best Children’s Show, Maisie, and WA Youth Theatre Company’s The Cockatoos in 2019, and in the debut of Françoise and Friends in 2020.

S: Welcome to the Fringe Sessions Sylvia. Can you tell us about the two shows you are presenting at Fringe World 2021, We Belong(ed) Together and Francoise and Friends?
SC:
My new show We Belong(ed) Together explores the life and music of jazz, pop, blues singer Rickie Lee Jones. My other show, Françoise and Friends makes it return to Fringe World after a sold-out season at Fringe World 2020. The show is a fun-filled musical tribute to French singer/actress Françoise Hardy and her contemporaries of the yé-yé style (a style of pop music that dominated France in the 1960s).

Sylvia Cornes

S: What inspired you to create these two works?
SC:
My inspiration for We Belong(ed) Together initially came from a book I came across called I Will Always Love You. It detailed the relationships and break-ups of over 20 musical couples throughout history. One of the couples featured was Rickie Lee Jones and Tom Waits. Their relationship and break up resulted in Jones creating what I believe to be one of the best break-up albums of all time, Pirates. I was inspired to research further into her story, and so the show was created.

As for Françoise, I am a long-time admirer of her and her work and a self-proclaimed Francophile. Once I delved into her music and listened to other popular songs of the era I discovered many other fantastic French artists and the show grew from there.

S: What makes your shows different to all the others on offer at Fringe?
SC:
There are many tribute shows you can see in or outside of Fringe to experience the music of an artist. But We Belong(ed) Together and Françoise and Friends will do more than just play the music, you will gain insight into the lives, careers, relationships and contributions of these artists. You will walk away feeling empowered by their stories and will probably be playing their music on repeat!

S: No interview is complete without reflecting on 2020. How has living through a global pandemic shaped or changed your practice?
SC:
Well, 2020 shaped-up to be very different for me! My plans were to live and study in London – obviously that didn’t happen. Initially I was very disappointed and didn’t have a plan B and so I have been re-imagining a career path that keeps me here for the foreseeable future.

S: What has been your pandemic silver lining?
SC:
Ultimately, the pandemic has made me value living in Perth and has encouraged me to take advantage of the close-knit arts community we have developed here that is continuously growing.

S: How do you think the pandemic will impact the arts long-term?
SC:
I hope that the realisation of how different the world is without live music, theatre, film and television production will bring audiences back with a greater appreciation of the arts. At the end of the day, the optimism that drives me is that artists continue to create despite the obstacles thrown at us; it gives me hope that there will always be a future for the arts.

We Belong(ed) Together plays the Rosemount Hotel 18 and 19 January and the Ellington Jazz Club 20 and 21 January.

Françoise and Friends plays the Ellington Jazz Club 28-31 January.

Pictured top is Sylvia Cornes.


“The Fringe Sessions” is an annual series of Q&A interviews with artists who will be appearing at Fringe World. Stay tuned for more!

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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