Gigi Zahir appears in Tempest, the highly anticipated new production from Wildcard Theatre, the multi award-winning company behind Electrolyte.
Applying their gig-theatre style to Shakespeare’s final play, Wildcard heightens the narrative with incredible live music and breath-taking design to question what it means to be human.
Directed and adapted by James Meteyard (Electrolyte, Pleasance Theatre; Redemption, The Big House), and with original music by BBC Young Composer of the Year Jasmine Morris, this is Shakespeare like you have never experienced it before.
Tempest is at The Pleasance until 3rd April. Tickets are on sale here.
You’re appearing in Tempest at The Pleasance, what can you tell us about the show?
It’s big and it’s bold – we’ve got kaleidoscopic visuals, tons of live, original music, and lots of mischievous moments borrowed from circus, drag and cabaret that really help us break away from the Victorian sanitisation of Shakespeare’s works and – god forbid – make the bard’s works super fun!
Why do you think Shakespeare’s final play benefits from this gig-theatre style?
It makes the show super engaging and accessible – surprising, electrifying and immediate. I also think that in some ways, the gig-theatre style is a close modern equivalent to what the play would have felt like when it was first put on – bawdy comedy, multi-sensory delights, ad libs and repartee with the noisy groundlings and a live band keeping the audience entertained.
What was it about James Meteyard’s adaptation that first attracted you to the production?
I was originally brought on board because of my work in drag as Crayola the Queen, as James wanted to reinterpret Trinculo as a drag artist, a sort of modern day jester. So the invitation to bring my full queer self to a Shakespeare play – something I’ve never really had the chance to do despite my training and experience – was the big draw for me.
Tell us a little more about your role in Tempest?
I am playing both Trinculo, one of the clowns, and Antonio, one of the baddies. I am so grateful for the opportunity to play these absolutely opposite characters, because I get to showcase a lot of range – my raucous, improvisational Drag Queen and MC skills get to shine with Trinculo, and then I get sink my teeth into a bit more seriousness and weight with Antonio.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a performer with this role?
I initially felt really daunted by Antonio. When I was at drama school, they made no secret of trying to “butch me up” for the industry, which left me with some scars. So having this chance to work through that trauma – letting go of old notions as to what serious men in Shakespeare are supposed to look and sound like, and getting to find my unique take on the part – it has all been a hugely healing and rewarding experience.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Tempest?
Come prepared to make some noise and have some fun just like you would at a gig or a cabaret! And be ready to enjoy The Tempest like you’ve never seen it before.