Part of St. James Studio Cabaret Nights
“I’ll know how to die.” Mata Hari, courtesan and exotic dancer, was a notorious and intriguing figure, and the most famous femme fatale of her day. In 1917, she was imprisoned, accused of espionage during WWI. Awaiting death by French firing squad, she reflects on her life.
“Mata Hari” means, in Malay, the sunrise. Aletia Upstairs investigates and illuminates how Dutch-born wife Margaretha Geertruida Zelle re-invented herself as Mata Hari: woman of mystery, the first exotic dancer of Europe, and a temptress who entertained men. We see Mata Hari’s art of seduction, inspired by Indonesian temple dance, complete with veils and exotic headpieces.
“I learned two things in Indonesia: the power of my beauty over men, and the power of a dance…with every veil I threw off, my success rose. Pretending to see my dances as very artistic…they came to see nudity.” She created a mythology around herself, and became the most desirable woman in Paris. Mata Hari was much admired by officers, for whom she had a particular passion. During World War I, she was accused of accepting German money to spy on the French.
“But I beg you to believe me, I never did a single act of espionage against France.” Recruited as a counter-spy in a trap to execute her, she was sentenced to death. She faced it bravely – refusing a blind fold and wearing her corset. Mata Hari saw her death as her final performance.
“I will defend myself, and if I must fail, it will be with a smile of profound contempt.” Proved posthumously (1985) to have been framed by the French, German and British intelligence, Mata Hari was possibly punished for her sensuous, licentious lifestyle.
Songs in English, French and Dutch include “My Death”, “25 Minutes To Go”, “Nobody Knows you When You’re Down and Out” and Aletia’s own compositions “She Cries” and “Catch Me When I Fall”.
Written by Aletia Upstairs and Dean Stalham, based on verbatim from letters and interviews. Directed by Dean Stalham. With Ada Kan on piano.
“This is one of those little Edinburgh Fringe gems… Upstairs is joyful, sulky, sexy and seductive as Mata Hari. Do go and see this if you can.” ✭✭✭✭✭ ScotsGay
“A strong performance that includes attractive and evocative singing.” ✭✭✭✭ Theatre Guide London
“Strong, melodic and dramatic delivery… Evocatively punctuates the narrative with songs.”- The Stage
Early Bird Offer: £12.50 tickets available on the Studio Floor and Upper Gallery ONLY until May 16th.