Theatre cabaret & drag star Peter Groom talks about iconic Marlene Dietrich
Your show Dietrich – Natural Duty is soon to open at London’s Vaults Festival. What is the show about and what inspired you to write it.
Dietrich: Natural Duty is a one (wo)man cabaret exploring the life of Hollywood icon Marlene Dietrich. The show is a mix of theatre ,drag and cabaret and uses songs and stories to explore a legends extraordinary commitment to duty
Dietrich has always intrigued me and in particular her cold, distant quality. Growing up I wasn’t attracted to any celebrities who were sweet and wholesome and had no desire to be sweet or cute myself. I was far too tall and gangly for that! So this woman who lurked behind cigarette smoke and seemingly didn’t care what people thought of her was very empowering to me .I began to research her life and the more I found out the more I was intrigued by the contradictions that seem to define her life. And I think it’s these conflicts in who she is that make for a fascinating story .
For those who may not be familiar with Marlene Diertrich, who was she and what did she do for the world?
Simply, her story is the story of a German girl who becomes a huge star in her homeland and America, and then her homeland becomes gripped by fascism and the rise of the Nazi’s , and she must choose between her home and what is right . She joins the American Army and fights against her homeland in order to free her people from Hitler. It’s a story of how far a person will go to fight for freedom despite the personal cost to them. We all want freedom but when it comes down to it what do we actually ‘do’ , what is our duty to the world?
Marlene Diertrich was most famous in the first half of the 1900’s. How relevant do you think her story is to today’s audiences?
I think Dietrich’s story becomes more and more relevant in current times . She stood for freedom and she used her persona to fight evil and the fascism that gripped her homeland at the time. We don’t have to look far to draw parallels between what was happen politically in the 30’s and now! Yes she was glamorous and created an incredible icon but when it came down to it she turned the incredible power her fame gave her into a force for good . It’s a story of using whatever you have to fight for a better world .
You are an actor, dancer and choreographer. Which is your biggest passion?
For me it’s all part of the same thing. I guess it depends how the story needs to be told most effectively sometimes that’s with, words or movement and in this case drag!
Why should audiences come to see Dietrich – Natural Duty at the Vaults Festival?
‘Song, sequins, sex and sympathy!’
I hope people who Know her will come and perhaps leave with more of an idea of what lay behind her incredible Image, the extraordinary person underneath the glamour.
I hope people come who may have no idea of who she is and enjoy finding out about the incredible life of Dietrich and most of all have fun! Feel sexy , light, laugh and maybe cry a little too!
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma