Dazzling lights, fancy costumes, thrilling dance routines and the nightly applause of an adoring audience - what's it like to sing on the world's biggest stages? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two musical theatre stars about life on stage - and the challenges that Covid-19 restrictions have brought.
Australian actress Jemma Rix is starring as Elsa in Disney’s Frozen the Musical. With no formal training she moved to Japan to start her career singing and dancing at the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka. This is where she was first cast at everyone's favourite green witch, Elphaba in Wicked - a role she went on to play on stage to great acclaim for eight years.
Filipino actress Christine Allado has returned to the stage in London's West End after a break of 15 months when theatres were closed because of Covid-19 restrictions. She’s currently starring as Tzipporah, the wife of Moses, in The Prince of Egypt. She took a year out after university to work at Hong Kong Disneyland, singing some roles in Cantonese despite not knowing the language, and she’s never looked back.
Produced by Jane Thurlow
(L) Christine Allado, credit Roberto Vivancos Studio
(R) Jemma Rix, courtesy Jemma Rix
The Conversation with Helen Clark and Michelle Bachelet
What does it take to run a country? Kim Chakanetsa is joined by two international leaders who have championed women’s health, equality and empowerment throughout their careers. They will discuss their personal journeys, the impact Covid-19 has had on the wellbeing of women around the world, and why more women should join the political arena. The guests will also be taking questions from two young female activists and leaders in women’s rights, health and climate change.
Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s first female president in 2006 and served a second term in 2014. In 1973, her father was detained and tortured under General Pinochet’s dictatorial rule. Two years later she was also imprisoned with her mother and then exiled for four years. When she returned to Chile, she became a doctor and worked with victims of torture. She is currently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Helen Clark was the first woman to be elected as prime minister of New Zealand and the first woman to serve for three consecutive terms. After her premiership, she became the first female head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and last year she co-chaired an Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response to explore the global response to Covid-19. She’s also board chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).
What can we learn from nomadic life?
What's the appeal of a nomadic existence with no settled place to live? The award-winning film, Nomadland shone a light on the sense of community, support and friendship that exists among people in the United States living in their vehicles and moving from place-to-place. How much do these modern-day nomads have in common with traditional communities around the world? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from Somalia and US about life on the move.
Shugri Said Salh was sent to live with her grandmother at the age of six and enjoyed an idyllic childhood living as a nomad in Somalia: herding camels, raising goats, and enjoying nightly stories and songs of her ancestors. She fled her country’s brutal civil war living in refugee camps in Kenya before settling in California where she's now a nurse. She's written a book, The Last Nomad, about an almost-forgotten way of life full of beauty, innovation, and tradition as well as danger.
Carol Meeks lives part of the year on the road in a converted van. After seeing the unhealthy food some fellow travellers were eating, she started a YouTube channel posting videos about how to cook tasty meals, cheaply on a small camping stove. She called it Glorious Life on Wheels and now interviews solo women living in their vehicles and travelling the US as they try to get by on meagre incomes.
Produced by Jane Thurlow
Drag kings: The women performing as men
While drag queens sit brightly under the pop culture spotlight, fewer people know about drag kings, the mostly female or non-binary performers who create male characters on stage and poke fun at the patriarchy. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two drag kings who have found a community through performance and are using their characters to explore their own masculinity and femininity.
Mētra Saberova is an artist and drag king from Latvia, who performs as Timmy, and also manages the Latvian Drag King Collective – hosting and performing at live and online drag shows. She wants to create queer-friendly spaces in a country with limited rights and protections for LGBTQ+ people.
Giovana Lago is a drag king who performs as Don Giovanni in Brazil, as part of the Kings of the Night collective. She has a real interest in the history of drag kinging, and is also a burlesque performer, something she would never have tried if she hadn’t discovered drag first.
Produced by Caitlin Sneddon
L: Giovana Lago as Don Giovanni (credit André Cardoso)
R: Mētra Saberova as Timmy (credit Mētra Saberova)
Kim Chakanetsa explores the rich and long history of body-bending work and hears about the complex skills that you need to succeed.
Sosina Wogayehu is a contortionist and juggler from Ethiopia. She started performing at the age of six in the streets of Addis Ababa. After a long career travelling around the world, she has moved back to Ethiopia where she’s now training new performers and planning on opening the first circus venue in the country.
Leilani Franco is a British-Filipina professional contortionist. She holds three Guinness World Records: the fastest backbend walk, the fastest contortion roll and the most full-body revolutions in a chest-stand position. She made it to the semi-finals of both Britain’s Got Talent and Germany’s Got Talent, and she’s currently based in Hamburg, Germany.
Producer: Alice Gioia
(Image: Sosina Wogayehu (L) Credit: Ponch Hawkes; Leilani Franco (R) Credit: David Waldman/Barcroft Media)