A creative and colourful collaboration with International award winning cabaret star, Pi the Mime
When Pi got in touch I was thrilled to the bones about the prospect of collaborating with them on these images. Being a huge fan of Pi I just knew that what we would collaborate on and create was going to be wonderful. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Pi perform and have been hooked ever since.
They first broke into the cabaret scene after appearing at Mimetic Festival with a solo show: Un Cas de Nostalgie. Many years later and you can find Pi across the globe as a regular on the cabaret, burlesque, drag and circus scenes, they have residencies at Proud Cabaret, Ellipse London, Menagerie Manchester, as well as other acclaimed global shows such as Party Like Gatsby. And it doesn’t stop there, aside from solo acts Pi is a talented producer of cabaret theatre shows; Queerstory and Break a Lash.
Prior to lockdown Pi commissioned Annelies Henny to create these fabulous pride ruffles, each a gorgeously huge skirt with matching wrist or ankle pieces. We discussed and planned the shoot beforehand to work around the commission costumes, we wanted to create a ‘Pride series’ of images.
Consistency of colour was important for these images to be successful so we chose to keep the lighting themes aligned with the ruffle colours. Each image uses a white light and a matching coloured gel. We wanted to ensure that the series would work well together as a strong art directed set. To further align the set I chose to keep the shot crops to a maximum of ⅔’s.
How would you describe Pi in 3 words?
Mime. Clown. Burlesque.
What do you hope your audience experiences when they see you perform?
It varies from act to act. But generally, I aim for audiences to feel uplifted. I never want to leave an audience without a glimmer of hope. If the act is of a serious tone there will be a ray of sunshine at the end, and if it’s a joyful act… well I hope the whole thing is a ray of sunshine!
What has been your proudest moment or greatest achievement throughout your career?
This is tricky. I am so proud of so many collaborations, projects, appearances… if I’m choosing one for Pi…winning my heat of the European Queen of Burlesque was an incredibly proud moment.
“Winning my heat of the European Queen of Burlesque was an incredibly proud moment.”
I’d also say taking my cabaret musical Queerstory to Theatre Royal Stratford East is a huge achievement, but that’s technically a different character of mine.
Have you ever had any performance hiccups, if so what has been your biggest hiccup and how did you overcome it?
All the time! That’s what makes live theatre so wonderful. As a clown especially, performance hiccups are perfect opportunities to connect with an audience over a shared experience. So, whether it’s the time I slipped over mid act, got stuck in my costume or fell off the front of the stage, clown training made sure that those moments became a part of the act, a shared moment with the audience and often, people don’t even realise there was a hiccup in the first place.
If you could perform alongside anyone, dead or alive… who would it be?
So many people!!! I guess though, as I’ve been called ‘Chaplin of the Queer World’ the opportunity to work with Charlie would be incredible. Either him or Marcel Marceau, who achieved international recognition and has gone down in history as a mime.
Have you found any positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Time to reflect. As a full time performer, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in ensuring you’ve got gigs coming in so you can pay your rent (whatever shows they may be).
“Being forced to take a moment away, where there are no gigs or shows… gave me the headspace to reflect on where I am…”
Being forced to take a moment away, where there are no gigs or shows (even though that was incredibly unsettling), gave me the headspace to reflect on where I am, where I wanted to get to and if I’ve veered off course because of trying to keep up. It has given me time to remember the projects I always wanted to start and to begin those journeys.
What for you is the foundation of a good creative collaboration?
Mutual respect. A collaboration should be beneficial and fulfilling for all involved. Everyone in the collaboration should be invested in making sure everyone comes out of it looking and feeling wonderful.
If only one person is benefiting at the expense of others — the collaboration and balance of respect is uneven. That’s when resentment comes in, and that is a hugely destructive force of creativity.
What is your creative mantra?
I always say: “Do YOU and do it hard!” I don’t see the benefit of trying to be like someone else. Inspired by? Absolutely. But if you try to copy someone else and do it how they are, you’ll be doing both of you a disservice. Our individual, unusual and personal perspective is unique to us, so lean into that!
How would you rate/review your Atomic Tangerine photoshoot experience?
I had the most fabulous time. It was friendly, comfortable and personal whilst also being very professional and I’m obsessed with the results.