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The Festival Sessions/What to SEE/Multi-arts

Between life and death

12 January 2022

Prepare to be reborn at Worship: Memento Vivere, a dark yet enlightening journey through death and the afterlife that reminds us to embrace the pleasures of life.

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Featuring avant-garde burlesque, circus, singing, musical acts and performance art, audiences can expect to undergo a corporeal renaissance at Worship: Memento Vivere, says the show’s creator and producer, Essie Foxglove. In her Festival Sessions interview with Isabella Corbett, she explains how a classical Latin imperative is as relevant as ever in 2022.

Isabella Corbett: Welcome to the Festival Sessions, Essie. For Seesaw Mag readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work? 

Woman in pink, velour dress, long gloves and a balaclava stands in front of a pink gradient backdrop, wearing a sparkling crown.
Essie Foxglove. Photo: Chayla Taylor

Essie Foxglove: I am a burlesque and performance artist and the creator and producer of Worship: Memento Vivere

I have been performing in the burlesque world since 2014 and producing shows and events for around five years. My work has spanned a variety of genres from traditional and neo-burlesque to live and body-based performance art. A general element in all my work is the cathartic exploration of vulnerability through physical and/or symbolic transformations. 

Worship: Memento Vivere was created in 2018 as an alternative performance art show that explores the positives and negatives of worshipping. This is the third iteration of the show that we’ve presented at Fringe World.

IC: And tell us more about the 2022 version of Worship: Memento Vivere

EF: The show is a visual feast of conceptual performance art with this iteration paying homage to the Latin imperative, memento vivere: a reminder of life and to embrace the pleasures of living. 

The show features avant-garde burlesque, circus, singing, musical acts and performance art, and our talented cast includes Bobbie Apples, Bobby Knox, Camden Champagne, Ginava, Matthew Pope, Moana Mayatrix, Pippa Lester, Smokey LaBare and me, Essie Foxglove.

Referencing symbolism, mythology and modern rituals of worship, the show will journey through the darker stages of death and afterlife before reaching a communal and enlightening rebirth for both the audience and the cast. Who you enter as at the start of the night won’t be who you leave as at the end!

IC: What inspired you to create and produce this version of Worship?

EF: The idea for this new show began with the desire to push Worship from being a performance art or variety line-up show into a more immersive experience for the audience. I decided this show would have an underlying narrative through various transformative stages and a message that the audience could leave with.

As aforementioned, the title Memento Vivere means “remember to live” — it is the other side of the coin to the more well-known Latin imperative memento mori, meaning “remember that you will die”. Both are used as reminders of your mortality, thus reminders to embrace life. The positive tone of memento vivere helped frame the show’s narrative transitions from the dark reality of death to the surreal and absurd dealings in the afterlife, culminating in a symbolic rebirth.

IC: What makes Worship: Memento Vivere different from other shows on offer at Fringe?

EF: Our show is a unique experience within the Fringe circuit! With its exquisite visuals and costumes, epic and jarring soundscapes, and beautifully dark and conceptual acts, the show challenges the audience as much as it entertains. 

As an immersive experience, there will also be a special audience participation ritual before the show’s commencement for seated ticket holders! 

IC: What do you hope audiences will take away from your show?

EF: The message within the show lies with the meaning of memento vivere: “remember to live”. It’s a simple sentiment but it’s something we may forget to do and to do as best as possible! This is especially relevant in the current situation the world is in with the pandemic; this show is a reminder of what we have. But as dark and surreal as Worship: Memento Vivere is, it is a celebration of life! 

The Rechabite transforms into a tantalising place of worship in ‘Worship: Memento Vivere’. Photo: V_N Studios

IC: Take us behind the scenes of Worship: Memento Vivere – what happens backstage? 

EF: Oh, it’s always a fun time with the cast. Despite being super serious and mysterious onstage, there are lots of laughs and dancing along to one another’s acts backstage.

IC: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing at Fringe World 2022?

EF: I’m looking forward to seeing some new shows for 2022: Ginava’s Messy Friends, Would You Like Thighs With That? and Sinsuality: Make it Reign.

IC: What is your favourite part of the playground? 

EF: Ooh, anything that I can climb or hang upside down from! I love to channel my inner circus artist.

Worship: Memento Vivere plays The Rechabite as part of Fringe World, 22 January 2022 and 29 January 2022.

Pictured top: The cast of ‘Worship: Memento Vivere’ star in a dark and sensual celebration of life. Photo: Johannes Reinhart

“The Festival Sessions” is an annual series of Q&A interviews with artists who will be appearing in Perth’s summer festivals. Stay tuned for more!

Seesaw offers Q&As as part of its suite of advertising and sponsored content options. For more information head to https://www.seesawmag.com.au/contact/advertise

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Author —
Isabella Corbett

Emerging writer Isabella Corbett is a postgraduate journalism student at Curtin University. After completing a Bachelor of Design (Fine Arts) at UWA, she quickly realised that she preferred tip-tapping away on a keyboard writing about other people’s art and hasn’t picked up a piece of charcoal since. At the playground, you’ll find her trying to fly higher than the person next to her on the swings.

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