“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one
man woman in his her time plays many parts”
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It (Act II, Scene VII)
After exiting Chicago’s Metro this past Friday evening, this most famous of Shakespeare monologues has been bouncing around in my head ever since. Emilie Autumn – musician, writer, artist, actress, storyteller – has been haunting my thoughts and my dreams and has made me ponder those above words in combination with Oscar Wilde’s position that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” (The Decay of Lying, 1889). I will abstain from going into a philosophical diatribe but that is what talking with, thinking about, seeing Emilie Autumn live on stage can instill in one’s mind and spirit.
If I have your interest and if your curious as to where I am going with the above trail of thoughts, check out the rest of my rambling reflections of this past Friday evening here.
Before I continue I need to give you a brief personal history lesson. In 2006 I was into this little animated series called Metalocalypse (maybe you’ve heard of it), where I was introduced to this intriguing violinist who went by the name Emilie Autumn. After a little research and upon listening to her 2006 release, Opheliac, I became an instant Plague Rat (PR). Over six years later I was finally getting the opportunity to not only experience the stage experience of my secret crush but to also sit with her a bit and have a splendid little chat.
Ms. Autumn’s music is deeply personal due to a life of tragic circumstances and mental suffering, but rather than succumb to the darkness and pain, she has reversed the polarity of the shadows to create a magical world that transports listeners and viewers to a Victorian era of talking rats who let those who are paying attention that we are not alone in this world, there is a world where strength and creativity and love and compassion can be found. Empowerment does exist. How Emilie has positively affected a multitude and varied number of people’s lives was evident by those in attendance – old, young, female, male, straight, gay, punk, goth, Victorian… Not only does her Victoriandustrial sound transcend traditional genre labeling but it also inspires beyond stereotypes and social group dynamics.
Emilie’s current tour and most recent album, Fight Like A Girl (F.L.A.G.), are based on and inspired by her 2010 book, The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls, and are both a sneak preview into her upcoming full stage production that is set to debut in London’s West End in 2014. Her shows have never been a standard concert affair. I can only best describe it as interactive burlesque style dinner theater extravaganza – with all of its wardrobe, backdrops, dancing, choreography, drama, and comedy. Most of the evening’s songs were were from her most recent release with a few classics strategically placed for a cohesive storytelling experience. One of my many favorite moments of the evening was an “intermission” like segment that consisted of two comedic and thoroughly entertaining experiences.
The first consisted of Captain Maggots narrating Emilie Autumn inspired erotic fan fiction (from fanfiction.net) as Emilie and Veronica Varlow spontaneously act out said story. The erotic fan fiction was immediately by Veronica’s famous Rat Game. For those not in the know, the following rules are required for participation in the Rat Game: 1) you must be a female, 2) you must be over the age of 18 (jail likes Veronica, but Veronica does not like jail), 3) you must never have had kissed a girl. If you meet those requirements and if you catch Veronica’s attention, she might decide to pull you up on stage and after some conversation and crowd participation will grace the Rate Game participant the opportunity for a deep and passionate lady kiss. Moments like this, moments that bring light to the darkness, are what make attending an evening with Emilie Autumn a must have on anyone’s bucket list.
After the closing with what has become my favorite anthem song, “One Foot In Front Of The Other”, Emilie spoke to the audience in her humbling, self-deprecating, appreciative way, giving credit to all the Plague Rats of the world for such an experience to even begin to exist on a level and in a way such as this. She followed this with an encore that consisted of one of her oldest songs, “Mad Girl”, and one of her most iconic songs, “Thank God I’m Pretty”, which the Plague Rats sang the first half on their own before joining in herself.
Returning to the stage their closing bows and curtsies, Emilie and Captain Maggots dueled with a pirate sword (Captain) and a very large spoon (Emilie) as Veronica seduced and corrupted the audience and her fellow ladies. As the lights went up and the backdrop began to come done, Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” began to play. A perfect ending to perfect evening. An evening that I hope to experience again and have inspired you to experience again or for the very first time.
And don’t forget, “somewhere it’s always time for tea”.