Homeless Performer Creates New Show For 2015 Mardi Gras FestivalGlenn McKenzie explores sanity, sexuality and Shakespeare.

Given the choice between creating work or having a home, classical actor/singer Glenn McKenzie chose to create a new solo theatre work, Evensong while living in his car.

Evensong is a solo chamber suite of 17th-century songs, sonnets and scenes in a modern interpretation.

It is an eclectic and evocative romp through music, theatre, and history’s most intriguing and audacious days,” explains McKenzie.

In it, he portrays one of its most mysterious characters, “Mr W.H.”, to whom Shakespeare’s sonnets were dedicated.

During Evensong, Mr W.H. (professional show-off and all-around larrikin, who sings like a girl) recalls the love poems and starring roles written for him in his heyday by a certain Willm Shakspere, while performing all the hits from the #1 pop album of 1597.

Aged and alone, in his bare monk’s cell, he laments the tyranny of time and celebrates the persistence of love. In the white light of death he flashes back through his life, recalling the Shakespearian roles he played as a boy (Juliet, Ophelia, Portia and Rosalind) and man (among them Hamlet, Richard II/III, Jaques, Lear, and Prospero); the Dowland and Purcell songs that he sang on stage and at court; and the love sonnets that Willm wrote for him in celebration of their relationship.

McKenzie is a trained classical counter-tenor. He has worked for over 40 years as a professional actor/singer/director, novelist, television director, preschool educator, a university lecturer in music and theatre, all while controlling a lifelong mental illness.

“It may seem odd for a performer to have such a severe anxiety disease, but I’m in the very good company of performers like Stephen Fry and Robbie Williams.” He says.

Evensong draws on McKenzie’s experiences on the cusp of society to explore gender and sexuality, sanity and folly, aging and death, through famous literature and music from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. However, the work is not all darkness and despondency and is far from didactic. It features contemporary versions of the music of 16th and 17thcentury composers, John Dowland and Henry Purcell, using TripHop, Pop, Punk, Jazz, and EDM grooves.

“It’s entertainment. I get to sing and dance (though twerking is limited to an officially designated mad scene) and best of all, to interpret 15 of Shakespeare’s most famous male and female characters in intriguing and fun ways.”

Though rehearsal with McKenzie’s performance director Daniel Graham is an adventure when the only venue available is a park bench.

“Discovering someone channelling Lear in your local doggy-park is one thing. Hearing them sing 16th-century songs over Drum ‘N Bass, in soprano, is quite a lot more disconcerting.”

Date and Time: 26-28 February, 7:30 pm, as part of the 2015 Mardi Gras Festival
Location: 107 Projects, 107 Redfern Street
Cost: Full $20+bf, Concession $12+bf
Audience Warning: No drag, muscles, nudity, or show tunes. Twerking is only permitted during the officially designated ‘Mad Scene’.
Book tickets here