After a sold out national tour in 2019, the fiery and passionate MATADOR bursts back into Melbourne as part of this year’s Midsumma festival.
A fusion of burlesque, circus, and dance, MATADOR transports you to Spain on this journey of forbidden love, passion, pain, and desire, using the allegorical Matador and Bull as its storytelling vehicle. The show explores the layers of a relationship – the struggles with self-discovery, identity, love, and lust. It’s a non-stop night of thrilling entertainment, and it’s here for Melbourne to enjoy.
Written, directed, and produced by Bass G. Fam, the show has already played seasons in Brisbane and Adelaide. Originally from a fine arts background, Bass is a passionate story teller at heart, a dreamer and an all-round creative with a colourful career spanning over a decade, with his work showcased around the world. Bass took a childhood hobby of illustration and design and enhanced his skills at RMIT University where he discovered his passion for communicating messages through visual art. After graduating, he founded Bass Fam Creative, a multi service design agency providing creative services ranging from graphics, web design, digital illustration, photography and theatre design. His design client list includes Dannii Minogue, L’Oréal Professional Australia, Dracula’s Cabaret Gold Coast, Chadstone Shopping Centre, Star Observer, Patrick Studios Australia, and Slippery Stone Bali to name a few. Bass made a name for himself in the theatre world when he worked on campaigns, stage designs and costumes for numerous clients and theatre shows such as ‘Le Male’ an all-male burlesque dance show, ‘Sydney After Dark’ at Planet Hollywood, Vegas and ‘Chadstone Christmas Stories’ in support of The Startlight Children’s Foundation at Chadstone Shopping Centre. Bass decided to produce his first independent show: MATADOR, a personal open letter to lovers and friends, an entertaining, fiery fusion of burlesque, dance and circus acts inspired by his real-life experiences. In 2019 MATADOR was hugely successful and performed sold out seasons in four Australian capital cities: The Melba Spiegeltent in Melbourne, Sydney Opera House, The Tivoli Brisbane and Adelaide Festival Centre.
Commercially choreographing and performing in the show is Gerard Pigg. Gerard is a very dedicated and driven dancer, establishing himself in various styles including Commercial, Urban, Heels and Bollywood as a Melbourne based performer, teacher, mentor and choreographer. His first venture into the professional dance scene was with the very successful ‘PROVOKATIV Dance Company’, that he founded in 2012. As the Creative Director of the company and performer, he has been able to represent Australia in various dance competitions, nationally and internationally- the biggest one yet being the UDO World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Gerard also performs as a part of Melbourne’s premier Bollywood dance group ‘Sapphire Dance Company’. Starting off as a performer, he is now a choreographer for the company and their Artistic Director. Gerard has also been working with one of Australia’s leading beauty brands L’oreal, where he has choreographed entire runway shows, as well as presenting mid-show entertainment for The L’Oreal Pro Colour Trophy Grand Final 2017 & for the Matrix Playground at the GenNext Gala 2018. He has also choreographed for a number of other prestigious brands and events such as Kmart, MECCA, the VMC (Victorian Multicultural Commission) 2017 Premier Gala Dinner and The City Of Melbourne’s annual New Years Eve Celebration at Federation Square. Gerard’s has also worked with a number of Australian and international music artists such Paulini, Jessica Mauboy, K-Ci & JoJo, RuPaul’s Manila Luzon & Che Che Devayne to name a few.
With the show opening this week, we chat to Bass and Gerard about their time on MATADOR.
Is it exciting to be bringing the show back in 2021?
Bass: Yes, especially after 2020. We had to cancel the whole season four days before going on sale – that’s forty six shows around Australia. So to be able to come back to it this year, and at the level that we’ve come back is something we’re all very grateful for. I wouldn’t have ever imagined in my wildest dreams after 2020 that we still have seasons in Brisbane, at Adelaide Fringe, and then Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne.
The story of MATADOR is inspired by true events, and the challenges that come with being in a relationship. Can you tell me a bit about moving that story to the stage?
Bass: So the story started off as a personal letter to my ex loves, the big relationships in my life, the friendships, everything that’s helped me become the man that I am today. But in particular, the specific relationship [it follows] is one that I had with a beautiful girl called Ranvir Marne. We were together for a while, and it it was good until it wasn’t. We ended up splitting up and both going on our own separate journeys to explore our own sexualities, and what is it that makes us who we are. Obviously from there came the pain, the anger. She moved to Adelaide and ended up with someone else. And somehow, five years later, we found our ways back to each other as friends, and now we are best friends – we call each other soul mates. We run a company together and we produce [MATADOR] together. So you get to see a bit of my life play out on stage.
Gerard: And as much as the storyline is obviously Bass and Ranvir’s story, I can relate to a lot of it myself. Coming out, and then having to find myself in terms of “Do I like boys? Do I like girls?” That’s why this show is definitely something different, something special.
MATADOR transcends one particular style, mashing Burlesque with Dance, Circus, and more – how did that pose challenges when choreographing the show?
Gerard: I think just putting the show together. It was more a case of trying to match up the storyline with the actual choreography. So that was a challenge for me, but I’ve got a great team. And the way that we all worked together, we found how we can make it work. It’s come together really well and I’m really proud of what we’ve created. It’s always a challenge when you’ve got a story that you’re trying to tell without words.
Has the show changed much since its 2019 run?
Bass: Yeah, quite a bit. We’ve got new acts, but got the same story. It’s a thematic story, so it seems like the same concept but it’s bigger. We’ve got a brand new set that we’re debuting in Melbourne. There’s new original music that we’ve composed for the show. There’s new aerial acts, and a couple of new faces in the show. It’s very exciting, very beautiful.
Gerard, how have you found the experience of being both a choreographer and performer in the show?
Gerard: I mean look, it was definitely double the workload, but I do not regret anything at all. I like to be challenged and I also do love the stage very much, as much as I love choreographing. I feel like my true self when I’m on stage performing. So it was definitely double the workload but it’s been such an amazing experience.
MATADOR is returning to Melbourne as part of the Midsumma festival, an annual event which celebrates LGBTQIA+ artists, organisations, and performers. Can you tell me a bit about your main goal for the production of the show?
Bass: Representation. On every level, whether it be about sexuality, identity, race, or skin color. Gerard and I identify as people of color, so we grew up without the representation that I feel we deserved growing up with. I think it’s so important today, especially with everything happening around the world, for there to be this really strong message of diversity and unity and acceptance. I think that’s probably one of the biggest strengths of MATADOR. It’s come at a time where the world is really lacking love and empathy and acceptance, so I think it’s why we had to be part of something like Midsumma. We needed to get the message out there as much as possible. It needs to be normalized. People need to realize that this is how it is, this is what people are, and that love comes in many different variations.
MATADOR opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne on April 29th as part of Midsumma Festival.
For tickets and more information, visit the Her Maj website.