About blackcat productions

blackcat productions is creative duo, Phoebe Meredith and Maeve Marsden, who have worked together in happy harmony since they were students at Charles Sturt University in NSW’s central west. We aim to nurture creative female talent with a particular focus on cabaret and live music events. We believe in creating high quality popular entertainment, which pushes boundaries and expectations around gender and sexuality in a format and style accessible to a wide range of people, young and old, queer and straight, men and women, alternative and conservative... With complimentary skills, the pair has produced both theatre and cabaret, but their heart lies in the mix of music and laughter of shows like their current project, Lady Sings it Better. What began with two women keeping busy in Bathurst, has now become a collective of performers, musicians, designers and crew who all work together to make quality live entertainment and support Sydney’s independent arts scene. The company bring a rich mix of skills and experience in cabaret, jazz, musical theatre, classical and pop music, as well as theatre, stand up and improvisation. blackcat productions are committed to diversity, creativity, nice wine and not taking themselves too seriously.

Parties, Tassie & Money raised for charity

unnamedWe’ve had a wonderful few weeks and we’re pretty thrilled about the weeks to come. We write a lot asking for support, but we were thrilled to be able to support LGBTQI charity, The Aurora Group, by performing at their Annual Ball at Sydney Town Hall and offering private performances as auction prizes. Two attendees were sufficiently wooed by our Disney/Sondheim medley (the theme was Once Upon a Time) that they purchased the private gigs, raising more than $5000 for Aurora, an organisation that supports LGBTQI community groups including Twenty10 and the Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service. The whole evening raised more than $70,000!

Libby, Hayden and MaeveFor photos of the Aurora Ball make sure you check out the Star Observer and SX albums. Luckily they didn’t capture Maeve’s drunk Snow White arguing with a bouncer at an unnamed Newtown Hotel, but they DID get some snaps of Hayden’s army of handsome fans who trailed him throughout the night.

We realise we’ve launched our Patreon crowdfunding site and promised all sorts of new projects but haven’t told you what they are so a few are outlined below. We are up to $609 per month but we need to hit $1000 per month in order to finish our EP. If enough people pledge $1 (or more if you can), we’ll get there and send some of our favourite tunes to your earholes! Other projects include:

Mother’s Ruin
Maeve & Libby are working hard with Musical Director, Jeremy Brennan to write a history about the cabaret of gin. That doesn’t sound right…but you get the picture! It’ll be a departure from Lady Sings it Better, equal parts historical and hysterical, complete with a gin tasting experience with The Ginstress, Elly Clough.
Costs we need to cover: We need to pay a dramaturg and director, we need to get costumes made and photos taken.
What you get if you donate: Downloads of some of our songs, discount tickets to shows once they’re announced, warm glow of giving! Donate here.
Pushy Women
We’re bringing Catherine Deveny’s wonderful Melbourne comedy+women+cycling event to Sydney! One afternoon only for the Sydney Fringe, you can catch Tracey Spicer, Wendy Harmer, Dee Madigan, Mariam Veiszadeh, Nakkiah Lui and Zoe Norton-Lodge telling tales of their life on two wheels.
Costs we need to cover: Regular event costs like marketing, tech equipment and artist fees.
What you get if you donate: Discount codes for the show! Anyone who pledges over $8US (ie $10AUS) per month gets discount codes to our shows, including this one! We’ll offer reserved seating to all Patreon donors.
Supported by The Squeaky Wheel in Melbourne!
Late Night Library
We’re curating a season of Late Night Library in Kings Cross for the City of Sydney. We’re got 6 amazing shows including Queerstories (a killer line up of local LGBTQI leaders), Library Love Songs with Maxine Kauter, Archer: In Conversation, a Mother’s Ruin work-in-progress showing and more. Feat. Matthew Mitcham, Zoe Coombs Marr, Georgia Rose Cranko, Annaliese Constable, Jeeves Verma, Penny Greenhalgh, Jekyll X James, Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Liz Duck-Chong, the list goes on…
Costs we need the cover: City of Sydney have actually contracted us to do this! Amazing! But Patreon support helps with our company’s ongoing costs.
What you get if you donate: The shows are already free for the audience, but City of Sydney have agreed to let us reserve premium seating for our Patreon supporters.Please consider pledging to support our growing work. If everyone who subscribed to this enews pledged $1 per month, we would reach our next target! Click here

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

unnamed (3)We got the old gang back together to sing a few tunes for Maeve’s mum, Teresa’s 60th birthday party, themed Mods vs. Rockers! The night was a crazy queer celebration with far too many amusing tales to fit here, so read Maeve’s Happy Birthday blog!

Lord knows if any of you are still reading! This Saturday we’re road tripping to Canberra to play a sold out show at Bungendore Woodworks Gallery, then next week we’re off to freezing, wonderful TASMANIA for our Festival of Voices debut. We can’t wait! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for silly photos and tales from the road.

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Please support us on Patreon!

patreon_logoYesterday, we launched a new crowdfunding page on Patreon. But it’s not like regular crowdfunding. Instead of one-off donations, we’re seeking a monthly pledge of $1 from each of our fans.

Ongoing support would make a huge difference to our work. We’ve produced a bunch of wonderful shows over the years but, as you probably know, Lady is our main creative baby: Lady Sings it Better is feminist comedy cabaret; it’s musically adventurous, it’s hilarious, it’s unapologetic and it’s joyful. We’ve collaborated on other creative endeavours, but always in pursuit of telling stories through music and humour, and always with a feminist or queer eye for the arts. As emerging producers, we know there are things we could’ve done better but we’ve had loads of successes too.

All this has been possible because of other people’s energy, passion, generosity and willingness to experiment. Musicians, artists, photographers, hairdressers, designers, vocal directors and more have donated their time. Audiences have returned to see our shows time and again, providing much needed enthusiastic (and at times critical) feedback. Our friends, family and fans helped us crowdfund a tour to Edinburgh, given advice, time and support. We feel incredibly lucky and happy.

As we write, it’s May 2015. We’ve performed at Slide, Late Night Library, Courtyard Sessions, Sydney Comedy Festival and Vaudevillia, and we’ve got 2 interstate Lady tours under our belt, as well as a stack of exciting projects lined up for the rest of the year. Lady is soon touring to Tasmania and Canberra (and hopefully Queensland), and we’re collaborating with some incredibly talented artists on new shows, including a folk barbarian musical, vocal workshops, a women’s comedy + cycling event and a cabaret about gin! (Van Badham,Richard Wise, Iain Isdale, Elly Clough, Jeremy Brennan, Catherine Devenyand Cate Madill to namedrop a few…)

But – and this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows a working artist – money is always incredibly tough. At times, it’s prohibitive. We’ve had to turn down two amazing touring opportunities (sorry Brisbane and Perth) because the costs of travel just couldn’t be covered by potential ticket sales. We’re really passionate about taking our work to the next level, with more collaborations, tours and shows.

So, we’ve decided to be honest about what it costs to put these shows together, in the hope that some of our fans will become ‘patrons’ of Lady Sings it Better and our associated work. We’ll tell you our current financial situation, what we could achieve were we to have a monthly income for the company, and what we’ll give you in return for your hard-earned cash.

We want to be clear: we aren’t doing this to whinge or beg. We feel lucky to work in the arts. But we can’t ask for your money without explaining how our finances work in the first place. Let’s get into it:

How things are now:
We’re an independent company, which means Phoebe and Maeve are fully financially responsible for our exploits. When we first started our performers barely got paid. We toured them to Edinburgh through a combo of fundraising and our own savings. In 2013, we started guaranteeing a minimum $50 per gig. In 2015, we started guaranteeing minimum $100 per gig. We rehearse in Maeve’s lounge room because rehearsal space costs money. A lot of our contractors (publicist, photographer, designer) work for drastically reduced rates or nothing at all. When a tour doesn’t go well, Maeve and Phoebe cover costs with their own money. No one gets paid for rehearsals, and we rehearse at least 3-5 hours per week. Our artists pay for costume bits and pieces out of their own pockets, and Libby has spent god knows how much money on props, kazoos and novelty hats!

How things could be:
With your patr(e)onage, we could make more work, take more risks, collaborate with more artists and support ourselves while we’re at it. Essentially, you’d see your venues filled with more feminist comedy, we’d release recordings and videos of our arrangements, we’d write new shows, and our artists would be fairly compensated for their talents and work.We could make more shows, tour more, pay our performers more, record an album, make videos and take risks. We’ve also got new projects in the works: a folk barbarian musical with Van Badham, a cabaret about gin with The Ginstress, a Sydney ‘Pushy Women’ with Catherine Deveny and more. We just need $1 per month! That said, larger donations get you show discounts, private concerts, video messages (cabagrams!) and other benefits. If we hit $1000 per month total, everyone who pledges will get a download of our first EP! We love making crazy, feminist comedy, cabaret and live music events. We want to make more. Check out our page and watch the video to see if you’re up for donating.

A (rare) update

We haven’t posted since our fifth birthday last year but it’s not for lack of activity. Maeve has been posting her writing over at maevemarsden.com and we’ve been keeping everyone abreast of our creative pursuits via Lady Sings it Better’s facebook, twitter, instagram and enewsletter.

We’ve been up to all sorts of cabaret mischief. We welcomed our new singers, Fiona Pearson and Annaliese Szota to the troupe in February with a fun, sold out show at Slide Lounge and a Courtyard Sessions gig where we made everyone get up and dance! Anna and Chandra are taking time off for other projects.

We then headed to Adelaide for a season of magic and mishaps. Magic because we had a great time and our audiences were lovely. Mishaps because everything else went wrong. Fiona left her costume in a cab on opening night, never to be seen again; Maeve left the cable for the keyboard in Sydney; our foldback had a habit of ceasing to work halfway through the show; oh, and we broke down halfway across the Hay plains and had to hitchhike to the next town for petrol!

We also had our Melbourne International Comedy Festival debut, performing for one glorious week at The Butterfly Club. It went really well, with some great reviews and a ridiculously fun performance at Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night.

We’re also working on a number of projects we’re really excited about: Mother’s Ruin, a cabaret about the history of gin, which is a collaboration with Jeremy Brennan and Elly Clough; Barbara, a musical adaptation of Conan the Barbarian written by Van Badham, with composers Richard Wise and Iain Isdale; and a Sydney edition of Pushy Women, Catherine Deveny’s amazing comedy / cycling extravaganza.

Oh, and Lady Sings it Better has Sydney Comedy Festival shows next week and is then touring to Canberra and Hobart.

HEAPS!

Sorry for the delay in posting, but if you like to receive our news, social media is the best way to stay in touch.

xxx Maeve and Phoebe

Are you ready to Wiggle?

Nothing says ‘happy fifth birthday’ like a Wiggles cover. But it wouldn’t be OUR birthday if we didn’t sully your childhood memories with several references to big butts and penetration. We give you…our Wiggles / Jason Derulo / LMFAO medley, recorded shakily at a recent sound check. We’re plotting and planning a proper film clip, so this will have to do til then.

Come celebrate our fifth birthday, as part of Sydney Fringe Festival.

Maeve Marsden nominated for an Honour Award

We’re ridiculously stoked that Maeve has been nominated for an Honour Award in the Arts & Entertainment category, alongside DJ Dan Murphy, John Frost and Women Say Something. The Honour Awards acknowledge outstanding service to or achievement within NSW’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, providing NSW’s LGBTI community with an opportunity to recognise and celebrate excellence and achievement within our community as well as the difference that particular individuals and organisations make in our lives.

Ok, I’m going to write in the first person now or this will get silly…

As a member of said community (aka a BigLez™), my inclusion in an event which focuses in on what makes us unique and worthy of honour is humbling and incredibly flattering. To be honest, at first I felt a bit uncomfortable, as I still consider myself an ’emerging’ artist (a title I’ll probably have to ditch after Lady Sings it Better’s fifth birthday party next month). But, scanning the list of nominees, I was delighted to see that I wasn’t the only emerging talent included. Without fanfare, the Honour Awards recognise lifetimes of achievement alongside those of us at the start of our careers, or mid-career. They support potential alongside success, which unfortunately rarely happens in these kind of events. So, instead of awkwardly mumbling something about how my nomination could be called an ‘encouragement award’, I am going to proudly flounce my way to The Ivy on September 17 to celebrate with the other nominees (and you if you book a ticket). I doubt I’ll win in such illustrious company, but it really is an Honour to be nominated.

The Honour Awards fundraise for ACON and Aurora, two outstanding LGBTQI charities, so please consider coming along to the ceremony. Book tickets here.Jane Marsden Honour Award

As an aside, my Aunt, Jane Marsden,was the first woman to win an Honour Award, in 2007. Here she is looking dashing with former ACON President Adrian Lovney and Tanya Plibersek: