How is a wolf whistle different to an Instagram like?
Miss Zella Shear (the alter ego of Elizabeth Shearer) asks this question and many more in her show 'Bite Me But Smile'... A night filled with problematic jazz, ocker opera and bastardised burlesque.
Here, Elizabeth pens an open letter detailing her upbringing and eventual love of cabaret and the theatre.
“I’m as proud as any mother would be about their baby, mine just happens to be an absurdist cabaret called ‘Bite Me But Smile’. Perhaps not the grandchild my parents had in mind for their daughter hurtling past her mid 20s, but all agree this labour of love is incredibly rewarding.
I grew up with a passion for performance, imagination, singing and being a larrikin, so it’s not surprising that I fell in love with fringe theatre. I moved to London after finishing my Bachelor of Music at the Brisbane Conservatorium, with the hope of being an opera singer. That direction got hijacked when I started to explore new genres of performing; jazz, musical theatre and most influentially sketch comedy.
It was through sketch comedy that I entered the world of fringe. I joined with a stand-up comedian to write and perform two shows, ‘Am I Not Pretty Enough?’ and ‘Double Whammy’. After my first couple of festival experiences I was hooked, I knew I had found my place to create, perform and provoke thought.
I came back to Australia at the end of 2017 with a hunger to write and perform my own one-woman cabaret ‘Bite Me But Smile’. A show that stemmed from personal and social reflection; about loneliness, validation, social media, self-worth and self-love! I wanted to create something that was thought-provoking but ultimately entertaining. Taking inspiration from the genre mash-up of the song ‘The Girl in 14G’ and performers like ‘Meow Meow’ and ‘Le Gateau Chocolat’ to create a 50-minute cabaret that mixed styles in a new way; opera, pop, musical theatre and jazz.
Every show needs a diva and that’s where my alter ego Miss Zella Shear comes swanning in. She’s a blonde, fun, single singer who loves the limelight and is a very important part of making the show amusing but also meaningful. It is through this character that I explored what it means to be happy. ‘Is the cause of suffering desire?’, ‘What is the difference between a wolf whistle and an Instagram like?’, ‘Are we happy in real life or just on social media?’, ‘I have thousands of followers but what about friends?’; these are just some of the questions used to provoke an after-show dialogue with my audiences.
Following recent success at the Sydney Fringe, I am truly excited to bring ‘Bite Me But Smile’ and my alter ego Miss Zella Shear to Adelaide for their fabulous festival. I’m already booking my tickets to see all the incredible artists taking part! I would love to invite everyone to have some fun with Zella during the Fringe – she doesn’t bite.. well, hard.”
'Bite Me But Smile' plays La Boheme on 13 March and The Cabinet Room at La Boheme on 15-16 March.