Post-pandemic, Anita Luna THE DIVA is no longer the tomboy daring to be a diva, she has fully embraced her diva status, and audiences can see how and why in her latest show Full of Shit, running at London’s Pen Theatre on 10 and 11 February 2023.
Award-winning Italian cabaret artist Anita Giovannini – and her alter ego Anita Luna THE DIVA – will be offering a unique, provocative solo performance featuring theatre, comedy, clowning and cabaret.
An hilarious trip from one failure to another only to find out that we are like lotus flowers: from the mud we rise up from within only through our sense of humour. To happily fail is the path to succeed.
Anita Giovannini is an eclectic performer in classical theatre, experimental theatre, comedy, tragicomedy, nouveau cirque and music. A turning point in her career was meeting her master of clown and co-director Jango Edwards in Paris in 2013 and she hasn’t stopped since. She travelled the world experimenting her art and especially the connection with the audience through theatre, cabaret and clown.
Winner of the Judges Choice Award (Galway Fringe) in 2019 and the Best Online Live Performance (Paris Fringe) one year later Full of Shit is performed by Giovannini and co-written and directed by Giovanna Manfredini.
In the interview below with My Theatre Mates the performer describes her journey as an artist, the influence different artforms have had on her style of performing, her desire to share the intimacy of cabaret with an audience and how vital it is for her to encourage others to be ‘brave and bold as f***!’
How did the character of Anita Luna THE DIVA come about, how would you describe her?
I wrote a letter to the Moon asking to find my divine nature, my pure femininity. She answered back, throwing me the blonde wig. Anita Luna THE DIVA was born. This is the mystery of creation. Things happen.
Anita Luna the DIVA is the diva with super powers. She’s very outrageous on stage and even more mysterious in her personal life. The only things that we really know about her is that she loves avocado, her manager is Mr Flamingo and she only drinks Sauvignon.
Can you fill in a bit of background about the Diva’s previous shows and how they compare to the latest piece, Full of Shit?
The themes of both shows are the same. It’s the foundation of my poetics. Authenticity, To be brave and bold as f***. In both shows, the common denominator is the set design. There is no fourth wall, the stage is my personal dressing room. No secrets from my darling audience.
The first show Anita Luna THE DIVA was created with Jango Edwards, my master clown. We worked for years to experiment the scenes in front of many different audiences all around the world. It was a long and interesting journey of creation.
With Full of Shit, which was created with my co-creator Giovanna Manfredini, it is the outcome of the last two years in which I experimented the difficulties of not performing for the first time in my life. It was shocking and illuminating too; it made me grow.
The show was born with a Bang! From all the shit I accumulated not going on stage.
I have a vision, a third episode, a trilogy. Watch this space…
Full of Shit combines theatre, comedy, clowning and cabaret. That’s a unique mix. Can you
offer an example of how you achieve that?
In Italian we call it “gavetta”. More than 20 years of performing and studying in every different situation possible. Working your way up the ladder, I performed everywhere I could, in front of one or thousands of people, theatres, bars, nightclubs, squares, circus. I guess my unique mix comes from my personality and a huge omnivorous curiosity and passion for performing arts.
I get my most brilliant visions in my dreams. But my secret weapon to reach the core of creation is meditation. To create something unique, you need to be connected to your intuition.
My performances are easier to watch than to describe and this is right because that is the beauty of performing arts. So come on, you have to get your ass off the couch and into the theatre!
You also describe the show as provocative, what can audiences expect and what kind of different reactions have there been?
Everything. For sure fun, astonishment, enlightenment… and maybe you could disappear and reappear again. The DIVA’s superpowers are limitless.
I barely know what is going to happen so it will be a big surprise for the audience. It’s a surprise also for me.
I have a storyline with the start and end points but, how I get from Point A to Point Z, it’s like in a love affair, it depends on both parties. During my show, the audience and I will be emotionally involved; it’s like raising the stakes in the game each time, you can win or lose. That’s life.
Provocative is such an overestimated concept these days. It’s overused, and most of the times, a publicity stunt. What’s more provocative than being honest and terribly real and authentic?
If there was one message you wanted to share with the audience, what would it be?
The core of my heArt is about having the courage of being authentic in a world that pushes you to be anything but authentic.
For sure, in a world in which everyone wants to be a guru, I don’t want to teach you anything. I just want to encourage people to enjoy the boldness and a life full of adventures.
You seem hugely confident in your own skin and you can be naked both physically and emotionally onstage. Has that always been the case or has performing helped you embrace that freedom?
Performing has definitely helped. Art is about that, helping us find our freedom. In life, I’m sure most of you have felt this, I underwent pressure about how I should be. People really tried to put me in a box, place me in a category, “standardise” me. For a long time, I tried to please them and I tried to be as expected.
Luckily they didn’t succeed. I broke out, I feel amazing in my own skin. Through my performances, I definitely want to encourage people to feel the same, simply fabulous!
In past shows you have discussed the journey from tomboy to Diva, from failure to success. Do those themes play a part in this piece too?
The past show, Anita Luna THE DIVA, was a journey, from tomboy to becoming THE DIVA. With Full of Shit, we are in the present, in the now. It’s about me and my alter ego Anita Luna THE DIVA, living life together, and with new eyes looking at the past, and making fun of any failures, any NOs, to heal the old cuts and to show proudly my amazing scars. We are really enjoying our new life.
In your bio, your meeting with Jango Edwards in Paris in 2013 is described as a turning point for your career. Can you explain why that meeting made so much impact and what influence Jango has had?
I’ll always remember a question in Jango’s masterclass in Paris in 2013: “What colour is a clown’s nose?” People would normally answer Red.
My reply was: “It depends on the nose. It can be red, blue, pink. Whatever.” No matter what colour nose you have, what really matters is the heart. I got it.
I will always think of Jango as my artistic dad. He made me understand how important it is to be authentic and I’m never alone on stage: the audience is my partner. It’s a love affair.
Jango opened my eyes and my heart to the world of clown. With him, I found the world which I truly belong to.
You also regularly collaborate with Giovanna Manfredini, what has that partnership brought to Full of Shit?
We are partners-in-crime, Giovanna and I are drug dealers, the drug we traffic is laughter. We have a heArt connection, a deep friendship; we have high esteem for each other plus… she’s my f***ing great personal trainer, teaching me to give and take punches in life. I’m like a child, always preparing to face bullies.
While we exchange punches, we brainstorm for new ideas. We were working on another idea (me interpreting a female version of her show Sinatra) when Full of Shit suddenly called to me. I wrote down a huge long script that night. Together with Giovanna, we shaped it out… cut, cut cut. She’s a great writer giving the right shape to my words, keeping my exaggeration in check. My abundance is right, under her watchful eye. Body and mind.
Post-pandemic, do you think audience are now enjoying a return to more intimate cabarets like yours?
People want, need and deserve intimate cabaret more than ever. They need to feel a deep connection, heart to heart. You can find a lot of high budget great shows executed amazingly where performers are focused on themselves and the audience would still feel distant.
It’s time for us artists to get our hands dirty, to really show our humanity, to share and to give, more than ever. When you watch my show, you feel part of something, you feel embraced physically and emotionally. That’s the essence of a clown, that’s why I’m a f***king clown.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks My Theatre Mates. I adore your featured articles.
And… see you all at The Pen Theatre and don’t forget to get THE DIVA her glass of Sauvignon!
Full of Shit runs on 10 and 11 February 2023 at 7:30 pm at The Pen Theatre, Penarth Centre, Penarth Street, London SE15 1TR. Running time: 60 minutes. Tickets are £7 plus booking fee. Age guidance: 18-plus. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!