Today we’re joined by Eva Von Schnippisch, cabaret star turned super spy turned 50s Hollywood actor! We’re talking about her new Brighton Fringe show, How Eva Von Schnippisch Saved Hollywood, all its 50s glamour and seedy underworld.
Jake: Well, Eva, fabulous to meet you. What an honour!
Eva: Ze honour is indeed all yours, ja!
Jake: So tell me a little bit about your show. It’s a pretty brave concept, I would say, that is reflected quite seriously in a lot of media. How do you think people will react to that element of it?
Eva: Vell, first of all, let me say, Jake, zhat I got mein publicist to put zhat into ze email title to get your attention, und it vorked vell ja?!
It’s ein play zhat does touch on ze subject of ze Me Too movement, or ze ‘casting couch’ as it vos called in ze 1950s. It is definitely part of ze play, but it’s not ze only storyline. Zis is ein play about ze Golden Age of Hollywood on ze silver screen, und ALL of it’s highs UND it’s lows. It’s about scandal, sex, drugs, und deceit. It’s about ze secret world of ze LGBT community in Hollywood und how ze studio bosses quashed it, und covered it up ja?! It’s about power.
But ultimately it’s about me, ze heroine, Eva von Schnippisch, ze feminist icon zhat I am, basically following mein dream und having to deal vis rejection, loss, und revenge. To quote Marilyn Monroe: “I’m just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love”
Jake: That’s a very poignant ending to your answer. I like that. And how have you found the process of bringing all of those themes together? Did it kind of naturally fall into place?
Eva: It came about because it’s ein sequel to mein first play. I vos at Vault Festival doing mein first play, about ze Second World War, vhich ve’ll maybe touch on ein little bit later ja?!
I vos approached by Voila Europe Festival, who loved ze first play und heard about it und heard how great it was. Zhey wanted to put mein play into their European Festival und I basically said, “oh, I’m working on something new now, ein new idea!” Und zhey gave me ein residency in their Portuguese writing retreat.
Jake: Very nice.
Eva: Ja, it was super. So I flew over me und mein devisor friend Michelle Roche, und she helped me develop it und ve wrote zis new play for ze Voila! Europe Festival. It vos right around ze whole Harvey Weinstein saga. I knew zhat it was going to be set in Hollywood, und I knew zhat it was going to be about ze casting couch. It was like ein natural progression.
It’s ein comedy, but we don’t make light of ze Me Too Movement. Obviously ve can’t, und I don’t vont to. Ze treatment of women is never ze butt of ze joke. It’s important to make comedy about serious subjects because you take avay ze power from ze monsters.
We have done ze show three times before, so I have tested ze waters, und zhere is ein scene zhat people are absolutely going to find uncomfortable. But zhat’s ze point. Zhat’s ze desired effect. It should be uncomfortable. Ze villain, Harvey Wienerstein, is an uncomfortable character, und ve vont ze audience members to be like, “Oh mein God, make zis stop!” I think juxtaposing laughter vis dark moments can make great theatre ja?!
Jake: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think it is very important. So maybe it would be nice to dig into a bit of your background. You’re a cabaret superstar turned spy, und how have you ended up here in 50s Hollywood glamour?
Eva: Ve pick up ten years after ze last show ended. So, ze first show was ‘How Eva von Schnippisch Won WWII’. Zis one picks up ten years later where I’ve just finishing my contract for ze British Secret Service, und I say: “OK, I’ve had ein great 10 years, but now it’s time to follow mein dream und go to Hollywood und become Hollywood’s greatest actress!”. I don’t think small ja?! I’m ein fierce powerhaus of ein Voman, so I’m ze perfect character to flag ze sexism und inequality of ze 1950s.
Jake: And what can the audience expect from your performance? I hear we’ve got music involved. Are we going back a little bit to your cabaret past, or is there new things that we’re approaching here?
Eva: Oh, ja! Vell, it’s ein one-woman musical, absolutely. All ze music is written by Oliver Collier und Stephanie Ware. I’ve been in cabaret all mein life, so zhat’s where mein soul lives. In moments of emotion, ze only vay I can touch ze hearts und get intimate vis mein audience members is to break out in song.
Because I’ve been ein compere und ein host für so long when I talk to ze audience it basically bridges ze gap between cabaret und theatre. So no two shows are ever ze same, really. No vun knows vhat’s going to happen because I expertly weave between ze narrative und zhen back to being in ze present moment. It’s good fun because you never know vhat’s going to happen.
Jake: And I imagine that’s where plenty of the enjoyment comes for you, I’m sure, as well as for the audience.
Eva: Ja, totally. If things go wrong, zhat’s mein favourite bit. So I encourage ze audience to shout out und heckle, in ein way zhat zhey might do at ein cabaret night. It’s ein unique evening for people.
Jake: Wonderful. Und what’s your familiarity like vis Brighton, Eva? Have you been to the Fringe there before? Do you know much about the city? What are you excited for?
Eva: I have been part of ze Fringe before, ja! I’ve been here twice. I did ze first play at ze Nightingale rooms in 2017. Zhen I was in ze Marlborough Theater in 2018 where I sold out mein run… Just saying, Jake.
Und zis year I’m excited because I’m in Komedia, which is obviously ein stalwart of ze comedy scene. I’m very pleased und very much looking forward to performing zhere because I hear from all mein performer friends how good ze team is. I think it’s one of ze best venues in ze whole of Brighton, consistently, even out of ze fringe.
Jake: And this is our kind of signature question, if your show was an alcoholic beverage, what would it be?
Eva: Well, I’d like to everybody to imagine zhat Fleetwood Mac – Albatross music is playing, like ze M&S advert: “Zis isn’t just any cocktail. Zis is ein champagne cocktail infused vis amphetamines und barbiturates… vis ein dash of 40 year old bourbon…und ein sprinkling of pistol powder residue”
Eva mimes finger guns.
Jake: Und Eva, do you have a message for the people listening in across the pub?
Eva: Ze only thing I would like to mention is ze importance of supporting ze arts.
Not just going to shows, but also telling people zhat you’re going – sharing show posts, sharing links so zhat zhere’s ein bit of visibility to your support. Other people see ze images und zhey’re like, “Oh, zhey’re going to Eva, or zhey’re going to Eva too… hang on, maybe we should go to see Eva!???”
Facebook algorithms, right? Zhey made it impossible for people like us to share our work. Very difficult. Zhat’s mein little plea to people out zhere. Share people’s posts. Share ze love.