Co-created by Lisa Fa'alafi and Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers, Hot Brown Honey is laugh out loud funny, honest, clever and entertaining look at stereotypes and the reality of living in Australia as a woman of colour. What started out as a small cabaret show with guest performers at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2013, has now grown in to a fully fledged production, featuring five full time cast members, all with a unique skill set and unique cultural perspective.
Initially an underground movement, the creators would invite artists from whichever city they were in, to come and share the platform they had made for women of colour and give them a voice and opportunity to say what they needed, and share their particular artform. Now with permanent cast members, the show is more refined but no less dynamic.
Hot Brown Honey is anchored by Kim "Busty Beatz" Bowers, atop a brightly lit honeycomb dome, spinning tunes and the direction, from group numbers to the individual performances. Funky tracks, sharp and witty humour, circus, beatboxing and soul singing are all featured within the show which has been gaining fans all over the world thanks to it's unapologetic delivery. There is a diversity of backgrounds within the cast with members from Maori, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander, Samoan, Tongan, Indonesian and South African heritage.
Cast members Ghenoa Gela and Crystal Stacey spoke to Koori Radio last week, and said that they were both proud of the show and feel it's the most honest and personally relatable work they have been a part of.
"I feel like the show is made for me," says Crystal, a cast member since 2014, "I would be looking at the whiteboard of all the ideas that Lisa and Busty were putting to us and they would ask ‘what do you think’? and I was like I get it - I love it! let’s do it! And I think we were all like that. It's unlike anything else and it's such a privilege. I love being part of it."
Gela, the show's newest cast member agrees. "This is definitely something very new for me , my foot is mostly in the contemporary dance sector and being able to be a part of this particular show where we are saying so many things about ourselves, the everyday kind of thing that people just may not actually know or understand, is so liberating to actually be able to say it on stage , this is it. This is us. This is what we deal with everyday.
Most of the works I’ve been involved in haven’t quite gone to this level, so it’s otherworldly, liberating, empowering, powerful and phenomenal. The sisterhood that’s happening is quite unique for me and my practice at the moment.
"Most of the works I’ve been involved in haven’t quite gone to this level, so it’s otherworldly, liberating, empowering, powerful and phenomenal. The sisterhood that’s happening is quite unique for me and my practice at the moment." says Gela.
Crystal, who has a background in circus describes the creative process to shape each of their solos as very collaborative. "It was a mastermind of Lisa and Busty looking at us and seeing our traits and character and really collaborating with us to make our solos what they are, which is a reflection of things we want to say within the template and the social comments that the whole show speaks really loudly, but also us as individuals."
All of the elements of the show are obviously hitting the right spot and the audience is ready to hear the truth.
"Originally our first showing was at Adelaide Fringe Festival, we were in this tent and most of our audience were really quite older people, and our promo picture was us mostly naked covering each other in a humourous way and you would think it would attract a different audience - but it seemed like that audience were the people that were reading what the show was about and wanted to come and see that side of our story. And now it’s changed with the word getting out there, to be a mix of both."
Here in Sydney, it’s been awesome as it’s been a lot of tourists travelling through wanting to see a show, not necessarily an opera- and our show has put another range of options there for people that wanna come and see something in the spectacular venue that is a little bit different."
Hot Brown Honey is on now until the 2nd of July at the Sydney Opera House. For all the details head here.