Winner of The Mimetic Audience Bursary 2014, Michael Twaits speaks to Theatrefullstop about new show, The Libertine Has Left the Building!

Screen shot 2014-11-08 at 16.00.36In just over a week, The Vaults in Waterloo will play host to 12 days of puppetry, physical theatre and cabaret as the Mimetic festival celebrates its 3rd year in its new home. A festival adamant on showcasing the bold and exciting works of emerging and established theatrical talent, the Mimetic Festival promises to be an event not to be missed. Ahead of this year’s festival, I was able to speak to cabaret performer and actor Michael Twaits about his new show, The Libertine Has Left the Building which he’ll be performing from the 25h-29th November, his reaction to being this year’s Mimetic Audience Bursary winner and how the show has been 7 years in the making!

1) Congratulations on winning the Mimetic Audience Bursary 2014 for The Libertine Has Left the Building, how does it feel?

Thank you! It’s brilliant. It’s provides a lot of support for developing the show and making it something that I hope will be really exciting and different. The show would not become the show it will be without this support – and the support of the Arts Council.

2) This year marks the debut of the Mimetic Bursary, whereby the public were given the opportunity to vote for their favourite performance via social media. How important do you find social media in terms of marketing and expressing opinions?

Social media is an inescapable part of modern life. The way we structure our social media brings the news stories, events and people that we’re interested in to us rather than us having to hunt them out! So it’s an essential part of any marketing campaign!
It was a big confidence boost – winning the bursary due to online vote. It reinforces there is an audience keen to see a new show!

3) Could you explain what the show is about?


The show is a real fusion between cabaret, theatre and multimedia.  It explores being an artist, queer politics and the way that intersects with the ‘normal’ parts of day to day life – and also how that changes over time! 

4) What inspired the creation of the show?


Seven years ago I wrote my first theatre-cabaret show Confessions Of A Dancewhore. The show explored queer politics and ideas of multiple sides of personality. One key scene explored the myth that every seven years the body regenerates every cell in the body. So what keeps us the same person? I was developing the show with legend Bette Bourne and he just joked in rehearsal that I should put a date in the diary and come back to the show in another seven years. So that’s what I did. It isn’t a sequel but it’s exploring the same themes and the way in which expectations, ambitions and policies change over time.

5) The show will be playing at this year’s Mimetic Festival from the 25th-29th November, will this be the first time you have performed at the festival?
I performed last year at Mimetic Festival last year with a pure cabaret show, The Red Shoes. I also hosted the launch show which was a lot of fun and I saw a lot of really exciting work!

6) Will you be watching any of the shows at this year’s Festival? If so, which performances are you looking forward to watching?


Of course! There’s plenty of shows I’m really interested in – and also lots of friends performing who I’ll be going along to support! Holster’s Sorry I’m A Lady, everything Rubyyy Jones is involved in, Marcus Reeves’ Behind The Mask, Pi the Mime as well as theatre shows – I have my eye on How A Man Crumbled.
7) How important is the Mimetic Festival for emerging artists?
I’m really excited about the festival. The fact that it has moved from Enfield to Waterloo is a hugely important step. There is nothing else like the festival that combines cabaret and theatre, existing works, new work, established acts and developing acts. I also think with the pop up bar and performances the festival will also become a good destination for Londoners – not just when seeing shows!
8) What inspired you to become a cabaret artist? Is there a particular process you follow when creating songs and scripts?

I was always training towards being a ‘traditional’ actor but when Confessions took off so well – using cabaret a lot – my career just evolved in this direction. For me it is the very live aspects of performance, be it theatre or cabaret, that I love. Process wise – it varies depending on the show but I always like to fuse together different styles of theatre and create a bit of a unique evening for the audience. 

9) Your previous works, most notably ‘Confessions of a Dancewhore’ received critical acclaim for its inventive and daring nature. Is this something you look to achieve with all of your works? Do you have a mission statement as a performer and writer?

It’s definitely something I aim to do. I always try and utilise all the live aspects of performance. I don’t have a mission statement as such – as long as my work says something about the world we live in, and there’s an audience who want to see it, I’m happy! I hope to keep making more!
10) What advice would you give to aspiring actors and cabaret performers?

That’s tough! Be prepared! You have to be passionate about what you do, resilient, confident and above all else love it! Work hard. If there’s no work then try to make some yourself! If ever [you] feel like performing is just a job, it’s time to leave. It should always feel [like] a treat to be a working performer because there are far so many who aren’t working!

Interview by Lucy Basaba.
Mimetic Bursary winner Michael Twaits will be performing at this year’s Mimetic Festival from Tuesday 25th until Saturday 29th November. For more information on the production, visit here…
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