|Beautiful hats and fascinators|
by Looby Creations
People worry that burlesque is just an excuse for sleazy strip-tease. In fact it is a witty caricature, simultaneously sending up our fears about sex and celebrating real women's bodies and our sexuality. With its gender bending politics and intellectual rather than physical strip-tease, cabaret and burlesque is an ideal filler for a theatre like the Sherman to put in between earnest new plays and the kids' Christmas shows, providing something that's adult and emotionally mature.
Burlesque is the mirror opposite of strip-tease. In strip-tease, women are the objects of Desire; in burlesque we are the subjects of our own desire to enjoy showing our bodies and our selves. The 1st International Welsh Cabaret Festival showcased this particularly well with the inclusion of several male acts - who were not stripping for women in a reverse strip-tease. They were often engaging with more feminine sides of themselves, e.g. through balletic movements - again providing a subjective celebratory vision of feminine sides to identity.
Burlesque is a liberatory subversive artform, of the kind the critic Bakhtin called carnivalesque.
OK, enough of that, now for what I thought of the actual festival: