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Daily Review: Evolution, Revolution & The Mail Order Bride

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See article in its original context here in the Daily Review.

Zulya Kamalova is an ARIA Award-winning singer who has made a career performing Russian and Tatar music to Australian and international audiences for almost two decades. She’s been in high demand for her musical prowess both locally and in Europe, but is now taking a step in a new direction with her self-penned musical tragicomedy Evolution, Revolution and the Mail Order Bride. In the show, she plays revolutionary Inessa Armand and her two alter-egos Eva and Maya.

We spoke to Kamalova about creating a new work and changing directions.

Evolution, Revolution and The Mail Order Bride represents a new direction for you. Is it daunting to be veering into a different artform?

Yes, definitely very daunting. But not as daunting now compared to half way through the process when I had realised what a huge task I took on. With the great support from Maude Davey, my director and co-creator, now I feel more excited than daunted.

How did the show come to be? What inspired you to step out of your comfort zone into something more theatrical?

My music started to become more theatrical and I realised how much I enjoyed being someone else rather than myself. I decided to create a new kind of show. So I churned through quite a bit of material, till I was drawn to Inessa Armand, the Russian revolutionary, who I found very fascinating for a number of reasons. Then I had to learn heaps about dramaturgy, research the philosophical and the psychological aspects etc. I wanted to do more than just tell one story so the other two characters were born as well. Three years later, it’s on! And I think it’s good. It’s gone its own way however, perhaps not exactly how I expected it to go, which just proves my point about evolution.

Could you explain to me a little about the title of the piece?

Evolution refers to a slow natural change. Something we may not be in control of. Revolution relates to Inessa’s work and people’s hopes and aspiration to change things with force. Or to be in control. The mail order bride is just fun. She is Inessa’s alter ego, and to a some degree an unexpected result of her work. There is the third character who has more of a spiritual than physical presence and asks various existential question about our sexuality and purpose. She is mad though.

Is there any political element in the show?

I guess it could maybe be called political. One may ponder women’s roles in government and society and the significance of revolutions. One of my favourite angles is that the suppression of the feminine leads to environmental crisis, which currently seems to be playing out in Australian politics.

Have you found, throughout your career, that Australian audiences are embracing of new music, from largely unfamiliar cultures?

I guess so, or I wouldn’t be doing it all these years. But it’s a small niche, perhaps due to small population.


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