We all know the Burlesque Underground and the Seven Families, but who are the people behind the notorious characters we love to hate and hate to love?
Blacklight brings you a series of exclusive one-on-one interviews with the cast and crew of the Adult Playground.
Let the Games Begin!
Name: Luna Madness
Which character/s do you play in the Underground? I play Claudia Lyra Monère. She is one of the original treasures and sole heir to the Monère and Kreutz empires.
What other jobs/responsibilities do you have in the Underground? More practically, I keep an eye on the subs/Stage Kitties (helps with timing and heavy lifting, etc), perform on occasion, and flit around chatting to the audience while sipping champagne.
How did creation of this character come about? I came to an Underground show while I was attending one of Natalie’s Stagecraft workshops, as I was interested in expanding my skills to include cabaret. Jasper turned to me during the show and asked the age-old question, “What did you want to be when you grew up?”
I answered “An imaginary friend,” and he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Would you like to be MY imaginary friend?” Obviously I said yes, and Lyra was born. Lyra was made as bubbly and social to allow me to play with lots of people (being new and not a ‘groupie’ at that time), but she grows and changes with the storyline.
What’s your favourite Underground memory involving your character? There are so many! Mostly comedic moments, as Lyra has been a light-hearted character until recently. I think it was early on when she and Jasper had an argument and he ‘imagined’ her to be someone else’s imaginary friend, bequeathing her to a random crowd member. It took Lyra barely five minutes to have made friends with the whole table and be decorated to match the ladies attending the hen’s night.
What do you do to help you get ‘in the vibe’ on a Funday? I have a playlist of songs that I will listen to, but most of Lyra kicks in with the details of clothing and accessories. You can tell a lot about Lyra and where she is at from the little things. She still wears Vernon’s engagement ring, and even when fighting with Baelian will not ditch the jewellery he gave her. The style, opacity and colour of her dress, her hair…all of it reflects something and the act of getting dressed allows me to ground myself in the character.
If you could play one other character, which one would it be? I would love to play Lucien Monère, I think. I adore the charming, underhanded nature of that character and think he would have a great deal of fun drinking with the Groupies. Of existing characters – I think Betty would be fun to play, but I can’t imagine anyone playing the characters better than those who already do.
What’s your funniest Underground moment? Raoul’s wedding visit, but that was a lot of moments. I guess my personal favourite was after a show in the old Bohemia venue – a few of us were collapsed in the Night Garden on the bed, settling down for the evening after a dramatic show in which a letter had been received notifying them that Lyra’s orphanage (and the children they had rescued in Rome) had been burnt down by arson. I hear ‘my darling brother’ pipe up in the dark with this bastardised quote from Drop Dead Fred: “Hey Lyra…Remember your orphanage?”
Black humour. What a fucker.
What moment in the Underground has upset/disturbed you most? Lyra’s rape by Nikolai…you know I didn’t get the rest of that chocolate? Very upsetting 😉 All jokes aside, I don’t get bothered by content much as I know all the performers personally and it’s hard to get upset about them killing each other when you know you are all catching up for coffee the next week. I struggle when I see people upset by the show, as I am a terrible people pleaser, but I have always enjoyed creating art that makes people think, so I guess it comes with the territory.
What’s your favourite onstage act? I love Jasper’s opening number, it is such a flag to my brain – “It’s ok. It’s Funday! Relax!” I love all the numbers really, ‘Jennifer’s Veil’ by Kerryx has a similar comforting feeling, but I adore watching the Underground virgins during that act.
Go-to song for your character? “Building a Monster” by Skylar Grey, “This is Where the Trouble Starts” by The Gepettos. Also “Transfer” by Collide, and most songs from Emilie Autumn’s ‘Asylum’ album. Lyra has different songs for different moods, entire playlists actually. She listens to entirely different music, but these are songs that put me in her headspace.
Favourite quote from your character? She has nicknames for people in French – multiple nicknames for some depending on how she’s feeling about them – but I don’t want to spoil her fun, so perhaps her exchange with Grigori after she killed the Professor: G: I’m sorry I didn’t trust you C: I’m sorry I drugged you G: I’m sorry I tried to rape you C: I’m sorry I tried to kill you G: I….wait, what? C: Oh…nothing.
What is the hardest thing or something odd about physically portraying your character? I do not like needles (been in and out of hospital a lot, accident prone) and can’t watch them. But Lyra uses them all the time, and somehow I can handle them fearlessly when in her headspace. Lyra also is an ex-dancer, and quite graceful…I however am into more rugged sports and have terribly weak ankles, which means I fall a lot. Not exactly graceful.
What’s been the most difficult thing for you to do/overcome with your character and how did you over come it? Emotional separation from the events. Lyra used to cry a lot, which would drain me endlessly even though it was not a real death or real event that caused it. I would be mentally fine and dandy, but would still be emotionally drained after a show. Now, thankfully, I am used to how intensely Lyra feels everything, and she has more of a mask on these days so I don’t have to ruin my make-up as often.
What can we expect from your character over the next 6 months? Oh, little Lyra has quite a bit planned for the next 6 months, and all of it will go down the drain…and it won’t do especially well for her…or anyone crossing her path after that. She is going to have trouble picking up the illusion of ‘sweet little Lyra’ again…
The Burlesque Underground plays bi-monthly in Melbourne. For event info visit: https://www.facebook.com/burlesqueunderground/
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.