Opening tonight at HERE Arts Center, cakeface’s Stairway to Stardom. The official show description: “With crackling wit and startling honesty, the women of cakeface serve up a silver-sequined dissection of the American Dream. Synthesizing razor-sharp choreography and a poker-faced delivery of original text, the cast shatters the facade of “making it.” Featuring live-mixed sound and visuals from electronic duo Prism House and clips from the 80s cult public access tv show of the same name, Stairway to Stardom honors the contributions of the wildly passionate but questionably talented among us.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with cakeface’s lead artist Amanda Szeglowski a few days ago, in the context of a piece I was doing on on HERE’s 25th anniversary season (that piece will be published later this week and I’ll link it back here). Here are some fragments of my conversation with Amanda:
The genesis of the piece started with the 80s public access show Stairway to Stardom, cult following with hipsters on youtube [believe me, if you watch the clip at the link you’ll be glad]. I started work on it 5 years ago, and have been developing it at HERE for 3 years as part of the HERE Artist residency Program (HARP). When you look at all of these people on the show you could see there was a spark, there was so much passion. But you just knew that none of them had ever made it. I started wondering what happened to them. It was about shattered dreams and “making it”.
But then, as I got into it I moved away from thinking about what happened to the people on the show and it became more about what happens to all of us. It started with those particular people, then expanded to friends, family, and other people. We’ve all had 30 jobs that have sucked! Whether it’s temping…or slinging pizza. I interviewed 70 people for this project, so it’s rich and diverse. I spent an hour and a half with each person, and drew from those interviews but also wrote some of my own stories. Then we developed a movement vocabulary. I watched a lot of Toddlers in Tiaras. I studied the pageantry of it, researched talent shows. The show is a combination of text, movement and gesture. We have a company of five dancers, accompanied by a DJ duo called Prism House, they’ll be mixing live onstage. And we’ll be screening the original tv show in the lobby before the performance.