Image description: Bernadette stands on a darkened stage, with her hands above her head, and an emotive expression.
By Julia Schwab
Julia Schwab: What excites you most about your upcoming live stream of Songs of Bernadette?
Bernadette Robinson: Having a chance to finally perform again.
JS: Songs for Nobodies first premiered in 2010, what has been your journey with this show?
BR: I’ve performed it on and off over ten years several times in Oz, culminating in my season on the West End where I was nominated for an Olivier Award. Over those ten years I have grown as a performer and had two more one-woman plays written for me, where I toured – and they too were warmly received. I’ve also given many concerts.
JS: You are applauded for your excellent imitation of the famous singers in Songs for Nobodies. Have you always had this skill of mimicry or has it required dedication and hard work?
BR: I prefer to call my particular skill an evocation, rather than imitation. I am a singer in my own right and trained as a classical singer. When I sing the songs of the greats, I try to capture some truth of their own voice and interpret it through mine. One has to have a voice of quality, a great technique and an excellent ear to do this. I’ve had these early on, and improved on those as I’ve gone along.
JS: How is the experience of a one-woman show different to the experience of an ensemble cast? Is there anything you are able to explore in more depth, or is anything taken away without another person?
BR: I always create all of my character and have no need for any others on stage unless they are musicians. However, I am actually doing a concert and the Australian album launch of Songs of Bernadette this Sunday night. This show is a cabaret style chat and sing, where I have chosen a wide range of songs and will be working with a pianist.
JS: Completely Australian written, directed and performed shows are often harder to come by than international shows. What are your thoughts on the Australian theatre scene?
BR: I have always had to make my own work, so all mine are Oz written. Thoughts of the theatre scene are on hold as COVID has decimated the scene. Who knows when or what will exist after COVID.
JB: Songs for Nobodies, written by Johanna Murray-Smith, follows the stories of five women, played by yourself, and how they have each been individually inspired by a prominent female singer. What do you think is the significance of putting female voices at the forefront of the theatre?
BR: As a female singer I naturally identify with female singers. Because of that it makes sense to create with the music, voices and songs I love most.
JS: Has this virtual performance taught you anything about the importance of an audience?
BR: At this Sunday night’s concert, we will actually have a real audience of twenty or so along with the virtual audience. So, it will be an actual live experience too, which I’m thrilled about.
JS: This year, the performance industry has taken a significant hit. How do you think creators should adapt to the current circumstances?
BR: Creators are dealing with the hit as best as we can – by streaming. I’m not sure what else we can do.
Songs of Bernadette
Bernadette Robinson Album Launch
7.30pm, Sunday 28 June 2020
TICKETS: $12-15 via www.memomusichall.com.au
The album is available for purchase here https://bernadetterobinson.com/shop/
Julia Schwab might have actually finished her engineering degree on time if it weren’t for UWA theatre clubs.
Image courtesy of Bernadette Robinson.