Meet The Bedlam Artists: Debbie Zukerman

Night’s like Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras are nothing without comedy – and comedy would be so much less interesting without Debbie Zukerman. So can 5 questions really let us into the mind of Debbie with a Z? Let’s see…

Who is Debbie Zukerman, and what is that you do?
Debbie Zuckerman is a fiction that has haunted me my whole life.
Debbie Zukerman, however, is me.
I’m a comic actor and comedian.
What inspires your performances?
Other funny people.
Oh, and wigs.
Debbie Z and plant.jpg
our version of happiness is?
My life as it is, but with more in my super.
Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?
I don’t know yet, I’ll probably fly by the seat of my pants. Which is a pretty exciting way to fly.
Describe your Bedlam performance in 3 words. 
Shh. Girl science
Don’t miss Debbie at Bedlam – Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale now here!

Meet The Bedlam Artists: Curly Fries

He makes us sit up, take notice and get inspired to do things we never thought we could, and if you haven’t seen him perform you are in for a twisted treat. Meet Curly Fries, our next artist from Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras for you to get to know over 5 little questions…

Who is Curly Fries and what is it that you do?
Curly Fernandez or Curly Fries is a hypocrite. I am a trained performer from out west and have rebelled against everything I was ever taught and at the same time embracing everything I was ever taught. I am a text based performance artist haunted by spirits. My practice is based on my fear, the societal rules we live by – all hinged on the clown within us.
I love watching other artists and what they do, their unique creations. I am inspired very much by Sydney – its artistic beauty, its urban landscape, its danger, it’s hypocrisy. I adore classic texts reinvented and I adore participatory art forms. The artistic body I lead – the Leftovers Collective make social experiments coupled with this concept at their core.
My family are a very, very big inspiration (there is such love there and a mix of cultures), as well as friends. At the moment I’m obsessed Naro Pinosa’s work – the absolute simplicity and political subversiveness of his collage’s are beautifully breathtaking. In terms of Cabaret, Meow Meow I find her extraordinary – that voice!
But to be candidly honest it’s my local community and the voices in my head.
Your version of happiness is?
Happiness to me is the beach. With my faCurly.jpgmily. A gorgeous sunny day, clear blue water and designer bathers. The beach to me is my way I connected to Australia. It was really quite tough growing up here. There was probably only 2 black / brown people at my school including me. This included all the way through to university. The beach was a place my partner Lauren took me to lots. It was a place I felt I really belonged. A place where us as humans, used our meat suits to worship.  That area between the two elements, the land and the sea. I found my home there. In most of my creations water exists on some level.
Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?
Masturbating. (Did you just call me a wanker?)
Performance in 3 words
Art. Is. Dead.

Don’t miss Curly Fries at Bedlam Cabaret on Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale now here!

Check our more of the incredible creative work that Curly leads by visiting The Leftover Collective – do it!

Meet The Bedlam Artists: Marlena Dali

The Rogues occasionally develop artistic crushes and Marlena Dali is the face of Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras for this very reason – we’ve been crushing on their work for ages! So here’s our 5 little questions to get to know Marlena better….

Who is Marlena Dali and what do you do?
Marlena Dalí is a name given to me by an ex-lover/ex-boss because I had to replace my previous name, Gsus (pronounced Jesus) Christ. She belonged to a cult and I had to join the cult, and I couldn’t have the name of another deity. Also, apparently the name Gsus isn’t marketable (?). So, she combined my birth name Marlena with Salvador Dalí and it sounds kind of like “Mohammad Ali” and I am a fan of him, as well as Dolly Parton. So I guess that’s who Marlena Dalí is: a mishmash of queer and rebellious icons that fit together in a fever dream of circus, drag, and frivolity. True story._LRP7062.JPG

What I do is, I try to present and perform very unlikeable or grotesque things and convince people to love me for it somehow. I think it’s a lesson in compassion and sensuality.

What inspires your performances?

Animals, dead rock stars, and 1 living (for now) rock star.

Your version of happiness is?
Cat is nice.


Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?

Baking an apple pie with Crisco, reading Yuri on Ice fan fiction, crying.

Describe your Bedlam performance in 3 words. 

Leather, Daddy, Swallow

Don’t miss Marlena Dali’s performance at Bedlam on Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale now here!

Meet The Bedlam Artists: Poppy Cox

We’re just quietly thrilled to introduce you to another Bedlam Cabaret artist, and this one is joining us direct from Berlin!

American-born, Berlin-based Poppy Cox is a cardboard-obsessed showgirl who has worked as a naked professional all over the world. With one foot in a high-heel shoe and the other one a bicycle pedal, she aims to delight while dragging you into her absurdist technicolor dimension.

Poppy will be bringing her own brand of drag absurdism and puppetry to Sydney for the first time. We asked 5 little questions to get to know her better…

Who is Poppy Cox and what is that you do?
I am a performer and costume designer based in Berlin.

What inspires your performances?
Things I love or things I hate.

Your version of happiness is?
Riding bicycles, drinking coffee, and chit chatting the night away with people I love.

Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?  Performing all over the place!!

Describe your Bedlam performance in 3 words.
Pervy Parisian Puppets

Don’t miss Poppy Cox at Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras Edtion on Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale here!

Meet The Bedlam Artists: Ben Noir

The Rogues are practically beside themselves with cabaret glee – our line up of artists for Bedlam Cabaret Mardi Gras is one of our best ever. So we’re asking 5 little questions to get to know them better, starting with the one and only Ben Noir!

Who is Ben Noir and what is that you do?
Ben Noir is a Cabaret and Burlesque performer who incorporates a variety of skills into his performance art. Some circus elements from a previous life as a professional acrobat, but mainly a blend of classical music into the art of Burlesque. As a trained classical singer and pianist as well as someone who likes to get his kit off on stage I felt that there is a little sub genre here just waiting to be explored.

What inspires your performances?
Really just that I’m a massive show off! But if I had to choose. The voice of Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland as well as the juxtaposition between Opera and classical music being a traditionally conservative art form and Burlesque having an edgier connotation. I want to bring the two together in a way that defies expectations of what one might think other the other.

Ben_the divaYour version of happiness is?
Apart from Swiss chocolate and marrying a Swiss guy on a Swiss mountain, If I can give an audience a buzz or a unique experience through my performance then I’m happy. I love a positive reaction from an audience. I also love spending as much time as I can with my model hubby…. who is actually a model…

Besides Bedlam, how will you be celebrating the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras?
To be honest, with a close group of friends and with my husband Stephane quite possibly down the coast. As a performer being often in the spot light you look for moments of calm and Mardi Gras is quite the opposite! I will be happy to watch the parade on TV have a laugh with friends. I prefer to acknowledge in my own way the generation who stood up for our rights under so much oppression to allow us to have the freedoms that we have today.

I hope that my performance inspires that sense of equality rather than the expected gender “norms” that some conservative views may still hold.

Describe your Bedlam performance in 3 words.
Sensational Classy Cheeky.

Don’t miss Ben Noir’s performance at Bedlam on Wed 28th Feb at Marrickville’s Red Rattler – tickets on sale now here!

Graeme Rhodes as The Gent in Company of Rogues production of Morgan Stern by Gina Schien. Image courtesy Chrissie Ianssen.

Journey to Edinburgh 4 – Graeme Rhodes

A forty page monologue that sprawls across a century or two, lurching in and out of insane asylums, spitting out mad doctors, rapists, tortured parents and mystical fishermen, driven by a purgatory-trapped soul and a young man fighting to manage his schizophrenia.

In early June 2016, Goldele Rayment sent me a copy of Morgan Stern by the playwright Gina Schien. She described it as a “darling new one man show” and thought I might be interested in performing it under her direction. I read the play and my first impression was that it was way too big for me. An hour and a quarter on stage alone with just a chair??

I started work on it immediately.

The truth and tragedy of Morgan Stern has kept me in a trance for over a year now with a preview season at Blood Moon theatre in late 2016 and another preview at Belvoir Street in mid 2017. I keep digging into it in rehearsal and in performance it is still a monster to be wrestled every night. Sometimes I feel like I come out on top, other nights I creep home telling myself it’s only a play and it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes it runs by itself through my 3a.m. subconscious, the characters taking on a disturbing life of their own, teasing me on.

In a week or two I land in London to sniff for the vestige of the dirty semi savage life of early 1800’s London where the Gent at the centre of Morgan Stern lived and died. Then its on to Edinburgh for a 3 week run. Exciting and frightening.

Cant wait.

Graeme Rhodes – Principal Actor playing The Gent in Morgan Stern

Don’t miss the show at the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at C Venues Primo (Hill St Theatre) from August 6-28, 2017. Tickets on sale now at C The Festival.

Journey to Edinburgh 3 – Gina Schien

Showing directors a new script can be humiliating and dangerous, like running naked through traffic. All your bits are in full view but you’re probably just a distraction. And if a director decides your play isn’t terrible and they want to direct it, they’ll probably kill it with bad casting.

Goldele liked Morgan Stern but I could still hear car horns honking. Why? Because no one could play this character. ‘What the hell was I thinking?  What?  What?’ 

Goldele said to calm down, she knew this guy. And she did. Graeme Rhodes filled that role with high grade petrol and took it for a beautiful long spin. Audiences ate from his hand and then got to their feet. My job was done.

Only one thing left to do now, Company of Rogues said. ‘Have a burger and Corona to celebrate?’ No – take it to Edinburgh. We’ll take a play about madness to the craziest festival on earth. We’ll work our butts off and organise everything while you go on holidays and take it easy.

And they did.

So I’m not just fully clothed again, I’m now wearing a top hat.

Thank you team.

The drinks are on me in August. Xx

Gina Schien – Playwright, author of Morgan Stern

Journey to Edinburgh 2 – Robbi James

When I began a Masters of Arts Management at the Sydney Opera House almost 2 years ago I did so hoping that the study would lead me to new opportunities to work with creative people and their projects. It was there that I got to know Goldele Rayment. At the time I honestly hadn’t thought about returning to the theatre world (I spent my teen years on the stage) but there is a very good chance, that very deep down, there is a part of me that was yearning to be here.

Goldele invited me to see Morgan Stern in late 2016 and I was struck by the power of the production, even in the simple setting it had at Blood Moon. I knew that there was something here I wanted to explore and that deserved to be seen by many more people – locally and beyond.

But when I first starting working with Company of Rogues I was hoping for a small local festival and finding ways to introduce Morgan Stern to Australian audiences. When the opportunity to join Siren Theatre Co in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival came up I took it as a sign that this new Australian play had to go – there was no turning back!

You see it’s not just the way Goldele breathes life into a compelling story, or the honest beauty of Gina Schien’s words or, indeed, Graeme Rhodes’ transformative performance that has inspired me to join the Rogues – it’s the collective passion and belief that Morgan Stern has the power to genuinely move audiences.

And isn’t that what we make art for?

Robbi James – Creative Producer

Journey to Edinburgh 1 – Goldele Rayment

When Graeme and I started rehearsing Morgan Stern we always knew we wanted to take this show further than just a 2 week season in a tiny, make-shift ‘indie’ space. In fact, we kept saying to each other “this is a preview season”.

At that stage the plan in my head was to spend 2018 networking and submitting the show to various venues for 2019. Going to Edinburgh hadn’t entered my head, until Kate Gaul did a call out for companies to share a venue with her and Siren Theatre Company. Knowing the quality of her work as a director and skill as a producer I knew we would be in good company. When I brought it to the team and asked if we should go I was surprised by the emphatic YES from everyone.

Still unsure I posted on Facebook, asking for other peoples’ experiences at Edinburgh. To my surprise I immediately got a private message from someone in the industry offering a couple thousand dollars seed money. Having already made a small profit last year, we took this a sign from the universe that we should proceed, and proceed we have!

I’ve never put so much time and energy into one production and I’m having a lot of firsts with Morgan Stern. I’ve never remounted a production before and I have never toured overseas.

Gina, Graeme and I spent quite a bit of time dramaturging the script before we started rehearsals this year.  I was unsure how much time we would need to remount or how much Graeme had retained from the last production. Graeme, being the consummate, hard working professional he is, was almost word perfect with the freshly edited version of the script at our first rehearsal.

It is such a complex and layered text that this period of rehearsal has allowed us to go deeper and keep refining the physical journey he takes through the story and his psychological arc as a character.

Goldele Rayement. Director, Morgan Stern.

Morgan Stern can be seen on stage at Belvoir Theatre (downstairs) on July 1 & 2, 2017. Tickets on sale now from

Don’t miss the show in Edinburgh – C Venues Primo (Hill St Theatre) from August 6-28, 2017. Tickets on sale now at C The Festival.


From the AD: Remembering Why I Make Theatre

tragedy comedy masksI’ve been having a creative crisis, a loss of faith. I must admit that at the age of 36 I am lucky to never have experienced this before. Being an independent  theatre maker is incredibly stressful and takes emotional fortitude as well as a multitude of skills both creative and practical.

Theatre has been the biggest joy in my life since I was 9 years old. It has been my only career choice since I was 12. When I directed my first show at university it felt like every thing clicked into place. THIS was what I was supposed to be doing. Since that time my sole focus in life professionally has been to direct theatre and be recognised as a professional theatre maker. My drive has been immense. It has trampled romantic relationships, it has weathered the crappy retail jobs and been my constant companion through sever mental illness and homelessness.

There is a unpleasant side to my creativity, my ego. Ego tries to take over, it feeds jealousy of others creative achievements, it makes me bitter and it tells me my success lays in being recognised by “important people” and securing jobs at the “major companies”. Ego whips me into a frenzy in the middle of the night worrying over the possible results of grants and programming submissions. It takes what was once a labor of love and transforms it into a heavy mantle on my shoulders until I fear I will collapse under it.

That’s where I have been this January. I’ve questioned if I really want to keep doing this hard, hard work. It’s made me feel desperate to grasp at any opportunity that might move me forward to “success” and fearful my whole year of plans will fall a part.

Yesterday was hard. I suspected someone was stealing a significant opportunity from me. I felt devastated and I sent an SMS to a good friend and fellow artist saying “I feel like throwing in the towel”. If it’s one thing I have learnt over the years it is REACH OUT. No matter how alone I feel, I’m actually not. She responded saying “No! We will help each other through it. It will be OK”.

After than something in me shifted. I realised I had lost sight of why I make theatre. Why I work so hard. It’s because I love it. It’s because the act of creation fills me with joy and wonder. Because making theatre is how I examine and better understand the world we live in. It’s because I love sharing what I have made with YOU.

Returning to the core of who I am as an artist allows me to free myself. If I spend the rest of my life making little, self-funded shows that connect to little audiences, that is enough. When I remember why I make theatre I release the pressure to succeed and make space to create. Most importantly I find peace.

Goldele Rayment

Artistic Director