If you’d rather avoid feral crowds when the end of the world comes, Rhyannon Styles can help. The LipSinkers artiste (formerly known as Ryan Styles) is sharing her last hour with no more than 15 people in Angel Cake, an intimate theatre production directed by Amy Draper (The Trees are Made of Blood) for the Camden People’s Theatre Futureshock festival in December. Franco Milazzo managed to talk to the multi-talented diva just before those Mayan rumours kick in.
If you only had a day left before some cataclysmic apocalypse, what would you do?
I’d find someone special to spend it with. We’d walk along a beach hand in hand with waves lapping at our feet, ride white horses through the surf, eat freshly caught lobster and watch the sunset on our lives forever. Apply within.
There was a recent discussion in the Guardian on what fringe theatre can learn from cabaret. What’s your take on that?
I don’t read the Guardian. We can always learn from each other. Sadly, many genres within art are so detached. If we all just acknowledge that Yoko Ono is a genius and not a witch we might be able to move forward.
Why should people see this play?
I wouldn’t use the word “play”. I much prefer “experience”. “Come and experience Rhyannon Styles” – yes, that sounds about right. This is an intimate, poignant and reflective affair, peppered with bursts of madness, surreal twists and party rings. I hope to surprise people with Angel Cake. It’s a big departure from my small cabaret offerings.
How did you become involved with Angel Cake?
Angel Cake‘s director Amy Draper saw me perform at Duckie and asked me to collaborate with her.
Audience interaction is not a big part of the average LipSinkers show, yet it is a core part of Angel Cake. Are you looking forward to getting friendly with your public?
My burlesque friend Gypsy Wood always says “you can’t buy applause, darling.” An audience will always let you know how you’re performing, whether good or bad. Does getting friendly with them scare me? Only if Courtney Love comes for tea. I love her more than pink wafers.
Has working on Angel Cake informed your cabaret side in any way?
If I had a cabaret side, it would look like a cross between Joan of Arc, David Hoyle and Tempest Storm.
Which actors have influenced your performance style?
I was inspired by the beginning of the cabaret and burlesque revival. I used to watch Walter, Immodesty Baize, and Paloma Faith at The Whoopee Club and wanted to be a showgirl. The events at Shunt in London Bridge, especially their show Tropicana, made me think about working within bigger companies. More recently, I have performed with Penny Arcade, who has taught me so much about speech, delivery and presence on stage. Also Lindsay Kemp, Slava Polunin and Philippe Genty, whose companies blow my mind. And I can’t forget the films of Kenneth Anger, Pedro Almodóvar and John Cameron Mitchell. Have I dropped enough names yet? Put all that in a pot, add a pinch of salt, simmer for 30 years and voilà: Miss Rhyannon Styles is ready.
Do you have other theatre projects in mind? Perhaps as a writer or director?
I’m definitely a show-woman: I don’t see myself behind the scenes as a writer or director. I would love to do more acting and theatre work. Would I miss the cabaret venues without a stage, lighting rig, kitchens for dressing rooms and hen parties? Probably.