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THE SEX FILES: Sobriety Twist discusses her new show Queen of Carnage

Updating Purcell’s Opera Dido & Aeneas with her dominatrix-take on things, incorporating various performance art and multimedia and presenting the brew at The Space (269 Westferry Road, Isle Of Dogs, E14 3RS, London) between 4/11-4/15 Sobriety Twist’s Queen of Carnage is sure to take the fringe theatre/fetish lover and layperson looking for a night of great theatre, by storm. I had the good fortune to talk to this mistress-provocateur of the theater about her production and how it fits in culturally to where we are presently.

Why this show at this time and from your first thoughts about it until getting it ‘up’ how long did it take to get it ready for the stage? 

Some 5 years ago I first had the idea after seeing a multi-disciplinary work with opera in Vienna, feeling some of it worked, some didn’t, but altogether I thought it was a great idea. I had at this time already started practicing opera and of course, had a background in that type of avant-garde performance; since then, QOC was brewing. It was two years ago on adding some of the arias from Dido & Aeneas to my repertoire that I had the idea to use this opera-the central character Dido screamed Domme, as did I-the parallels were so clear I couldn’t resist.

With so many talented people working with you, how do you come to finally decide who you can use and who you can’t?

I usually approach people I know and whose work I have seen. Some may think that is a bad mantra but in art/performance I think it works. There is a great focus on the quality for Queen of Carnage and we all need to be critical from the onset. So if it is not working we are not using it.

Costuming, lights, the very visual nature of this show has to be something you work on very intensely. Can you tell us a little bit about how you went about designing the ‘look’ of Queen of Carnage? Are costumes as much a reflection of the character’s inner struggles as styles you want to reveal to catch the eye?

The key to the setting for this work will be the projection, we will have little lighting, and this has been inspired by Kormische Oper’s Die Zauberflaute; we are using mostly the imagery/film as the set/lighting. Costume wise we are on almost zero budget but over the years I have collected quite a few stunning pieces – mostly from Libidex/Liberation.

How did you come to find the venue for this work? 

Early last year, I went to see the venue and later in 2016 I applied for Arts Council funding, which I didn’t get this time around (being a former recipient). However I thought that I should take the plunge and instead of doing it totally independently, applied to the theatre to be included in their spring season.

After no responses from quite a few venues (thinking the fetish theme put them off) I found The Space online and approached them; from the onset, they were great and seemed to love the idea. Their focus has been/is on fringe theatre, so we are thankful to them for taking us on and I hope to do them proud with lots of bums on seats. this would be great for them as a small independent theatre: although of course, they have a great patron in Ian McKellen.

If given the opportunity, would you like to take QoC on the road? 

Yes, if we get funding and/or co-producing venues to support us.

There are certain clichés that exist to the layperson when it comes to the BDSM world, do you want to up end these concepts as much as strength them, respectively?

I think so yes. I feel in some ways with this work that I am attempting somewhat to preach to the unconverted in combining the facets of opera with BDSM in a non- fetish environment (such as a fringe theatre) and then relaying the point that BDSM is or can be, as vanilla sexuality, a base from which springs a way of life and dare I say love. But then there is the whole enjoyment of reaching those who may seem a little shocked, and one day realize the pleasure in pain & discomfort.

There seems to be a redefining or at least some back-and-forth tug of war over what it means to be a feminist in the modern world. Presenting this piece and as a working performer/dom, how do you define feminism presently?

I think there has always been a “tug of war” within feminism and that is how, like the West in general, it has managed to flourish, at least to some extent, though clearly not to its fullest. I think the Femdom thing is definitely at the more extreme end of feminist thought and action but there are still varying strands within that whole scene that contradict that. Within and between! says the Queen of Carnage and so that is what I shall end on.

If you happen to be in London next month, go here for tickets. Also, check here for a video about the show and more about it here.

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