Written during Covid lockdown, the show is inspired by a book that has travelled with Dianna Nixon since it turned up, mysteriously, in her childhood.
This first production was made possible with support from You Are Here and their ACT Govt-funded In Good Company program. Check out their website: https://www.youareherecanberra.com.au/events/the-gentlemans-companion/
Designed to help get venues open and thriving again, this program directly supported independent performing artists hit hard in the Covid pandemic. With these funds, Dianna was able to engage the brilliant Christopher Samuel Carroll to act as dramaturg and director, and to employ two AUSLAN performance specialists (Brett Olzen, Deborah Hayes) to broaden the access to the show. We were able to employ a photographer/videographer, Zhenshi van der Klooster, and a marketing specialist, David Pearson, and to purchase sound equipment which Dianna retains for use in future performances. So the financial support was well distributed, and also meant Dianna received a fee for this performance.
Now that the show has been tested on a live audience, we know the concept works. It includes readings of tales & recipes from said cocktail book, & an iconic poem by Derek Walcott; chatty anecdotes about life, dating, politics, and a sprinkling of rock anthems associated with iconic male artists, with Dianna’s pre-recorded piano accompaniments as backing. The bar staff at Louie Louie created five of the cocktails from the book for purchase on the evening, and also created a degustation menu.
Dianna Nixon, a solo performer, brings most things required for the performance – sound equipment (headset mic so that she can rove in the venue), speakers, laptop for playback of backing tracks, music stand, props and small musical instruments.
Venue must have – cocktail bar and bartender capable and keen to reproduce the five iconic recipes, as well as a piano, table and chair seating for audience, and, for Dianna, 2 tables (for speakers & laptop), a small square table (for props and instruments), and a tall bar stool.
Important dates and activities
We hope to produce a return season at Louie Louie Gin Bar in Canberra, and are looking at other cocktail bars in our region, such as YazzBar in Yass. Later we’ll look for suitable venues in Sydney and Melbourne, then pitch the show to cabaret festivals.