Lorenzo Piccolo talks about bringing drag queen show ALMA – A HUMAN VOICE to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Nina’s Drag Queens – Lorenzo Piccolo
Name of Edinburgh show: Alma, a Human Voice
Venue: Summerhall- the old lab
Performance time: 11:50
Show length: 1 h
Ticket price: 10 £

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I studied in Milan as an actor, followed by some dance experience. As a playwright, I’ve been active since 2006, more or less. In 2011 I won an important national prize for playwriting, the Pier Vittorio Tondelli Prize.

In 2007 I co-founded Nina’s Drag Queens. Our theatre company explores drag queen aesthetics and characters, blending songs, film extracts and lip-syncing with live performance.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
It is a drag queen solo.

In a room, a woman has a long phone call with her ex-lover, who’s killing her, word after word, lie after lie. She’s heart-breaking and at the same time comic in her shameless emotion. She just can’t help it. She’s the main character of Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine. In a room, driven mad by love, painter Oskar Kokoschka makes a life-size doll of his ex-lover and muse, Alma Mahler.

Through these intertwining stories of final goodbyes, presenting the female muse and the female victim of love, I reflect on human beings and how to represent them on stage.

In the end, Alma is a sort of tragicomedy which goes right to the heart of drag, putting love and creativity in the spotlight, with all the frustration and exaltation they entail.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I had the first idea in 2013 in Vienna, looking at some paintings by Oskar Kokoschka.

Then we had a first production step in 2015, and then we debuted in 2016 at DANAE Festival, Milan.

I guess it is still relevant because it deals with the violence of human relationships, and the obsession for an object of desire.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I’ve been to the Festival a few times, as a visitor and as a member of the arts industry, so I have an idea of the Festival… But as a performer it’ll be completely different, I guess!

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
While doing Liubov Andreevna in our drag version of Checov’s Cherry Orchard, my dress got torn open on the left side, so I tried to play the rest of the show (about 20 minutes) showing to the audience only my right side. I don’t know what Stanislavski would have said…

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I love Antonio Rezza, a crazy artist here in Italy. He can literally make the audience do anything he wants. It’s a real pleasure to see his works.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
We say “Merda” (shit) three times, then touch each other’s lower back.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I still don’t know. It has been a busy year, so I haven’t made plans yet.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
It is unique: it is a very particular way to use lip-sync and the usual “drag tools” to tell a story that is deeply moving, violent and funny at the same time: the absurd effort of a man to recreate his lost love, and of a woman to keep alive a dead relationship.

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