The courtesan’s swan song

A mesmerising fusion of dance, theatre and circus, Courtesan Remixed tells the story of famed Parisian courtesan, La Dame aux Camelias, as she drifts between lovers, bottles and sparkling artifice, before losing herself to the shadows of Bohemian Paris.

Sitting in Sydney’s Hyde Park, the show’s creator and performer, Brigid Dolan explains the allure of playing La Dame aux Camelias, the muse to so many plays, novels, operas, ballets and films:

“She is often portrayed as the prostitute with a heart of gold who makes the ultimate sacrifice for the one true love, but historically, it’s not quite true – there were many lovers and she had a real darkness under the surface … I’ve tried to incorporate that into this performance.”

Coming in at just under an hour, the one-woman show delves deep into La Dame’s life to uncover the woman behind the myth and pay tribute to the nineteenth century figure in a rich and modern theatrical interpretation:

Dolan says, “We tried to shake up the story – take it out of the nineteenth century and put it into more contemporary parallels … It is still very French, very bohemian, but we’ve tried to make it more relevant to today’s audience.”

But La Dame remains a timeless character, one to appeal to every audience through her palpable humanity, the tragedy and beauty of her life in the hands and hearts of her many suitors. The fragility and ultimate goodness at her core, draws the audience into her shadowy world of absinthe, glass, trapeze and bare skin to hold them there mesmerised.

Courtesan Remixed is the swan song of a woman lost. Brigid Dolan as La Dame aux Camelias, delivers a performance to pay tribute to and channel a courtesan manipulated by others in life and in story. Returning the stage to La Dame for her final act, Dolan muses on life lived with risk:

“Sometimes being really experimental and creative means taking a risk and that can sometimes be a 50/50 thing – whether you land on your ass or you soar in the sky. So if you’ve taken the risk and land on your ass it just reinforces that you’re brave, you’re courageous, you’re a risk-taker.”

Courtesan Remixed is a multi-faceted theatrical narrative – it draws on the physical theatre and comedy of vaudeville, the sensual appeal of cabaret and the unexpected absurdity in circus sideshows, to deliver a moving tribute to a lost soul.

As the curtain lowers on La Dame aux Camelias – a distinct vision of a beautiful swan wheeling in the sky before crashing to earth.

Courtesan Remixed is playing between 27 September and 2 October at the Old 505 Theatre, 505/342 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

Cast and creatives:

Brigid Dolan – Creator and Performer
Evan Morgan – Music and Sound Design
Peta Sergeant – Coaching

WATCH: Brigid Dolan bellydance

FOLLOW: Brigid Dolan on Facebook

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