Meet Leah Shelton - The cabaret chameleon fronting Pulpshow
Katherine Sullivan | On 04, Dec 2015
Leah Shelton is an Australian performance maker, choreographer, and chameleon with a passion for the surreal, the subversive, and the absurd. Â After a nine month stint in an acclaimed variety show in Las Vegas, Leah is back with Pulpshow, a new physical comedy for Brisbane Powerhouseâ€™s 2015 Wonderland Festival.
Leahâ€™s time in the Nevada desert sparked an obsession with the sinister side of her homeland. Her latest show is a dark comedy that explores the fear, loathing and paranoia that lies deep within the Australian Psyche through the skewed lenses of pulp fiction and the oft-overlooked 1970s Ozploitation film genre.
â€œPulpshow is like a wild contiki tour through outback Australiaâ€ Leah says, â€œitâ€™s a mashup of classic Australian film scenes (think Crocodile Dundee meets Wolf Creek via Picnic at Hanging Rock); with a bit of pole dancing on a hills hoist and a whole new take on goon of fortune!â€
The concept of Pulpshow has been in the making for over a year and Leah acknowledges that her time in Las Vegas really helped her to grow artistically.â€œI performed in a variety show called â€œVegas Nocturneâ€ at the prestigious Cosmopolitian of Las Vegas â€“ I performed a number of pieces including voguing on a piano; putting my whole body inside a suitcase and pretending to be a contortionist with a fake leg; and performing a magic burlesque number involving a disappearing hankerchief.Â The experience was incredible and I learned a lot about my skills as a performer in that world.”
It is clear that performing is Leahâ€™s passion and she admits that growing up she would always be putting on performances in her familyâ€™s lounge room.â€œI would coerce my sisters to perform with me to some absurd re-enactment of an obscure Spanish country music song my parents were into at the time.â€
Originally dance-trained, Leah has a diverse performance background which has seen her tour internationally. She has spent over a decade working in the intense Suzuki Actor Training Method with physical theatre company Frank Theatre. It is an incredibly rigorous form of physical theatre training pioneered by avant-garde Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki.â€œThe training had a massive impact on my work, particularly in terms of attention to detail and extreme physicality as a performer.â€
As a solo artist, Leah strives to create work that is highly visual and rather strange. She admits to me that she does sometimes worry that her material might be too outlandish but that it is all part of the risk. “It’s important to push people’s perspectives, and I like to do that in a way that is very entertaining and makes people laugh along the way.”
When Leah isn’t performing her solo work, she is busy working as the Co-Artistic Director of the high camp neo-tiki dance theatre company Polytoxic and is also the Co-Founder of the satire dripping physically stylized female outfit The Brides of Frank. 2016 will see Leah travel to New York with Polytoxic to present their karoke party piece at the Coil Festival. Leah reveals that there is more in store for her next year.
“I will beÂ developing two new works (one will be a site-specific walking tour in collaboration with the award-winning writer Mandy Beaumont, and the other will be a sci-art project with New York performance-maker Sophia Remolde mapping environmental sites of destruction); and present a new work by Polytoxic, called The Long Toothed Devil, based on ghost stories from the South Pacific. So it’ll be a busy year!”
Don’t miss your chance to see Pulpshow this December. It is guaranteed to be a show full of jewel encrusted gore, lip-synch, pole dance and black comedy.
WhereÂ Brisbane Powerhouse
WhenÂ 10 – 13 December 2015
How MuchÂ $25
For tickets or more information, head over to the Brisbane Powerhouse websiteÂ here.
Image Credit: Morgan Roberts