Phi Theodoros, the Ukulele Dream Girl, is excited to bring her show Self Isolation Songbook to the stage at Diverse City for one night only as part of the Feast Festival.
The creative process has been described by Theodoros as “a really intense experience” but she is looking forward to finally sharing her most recent creation on stage with a live audience. Self Isolation Songbook was originally written for presentation in 2020 and featured several cover songs, but last year’s circuit breaker lockdown in South Australia forced her to pivot the show to an online format at the last minute. Being an independent artist, cover song licensing costs in online productions made it hard for Theodoros to include the initial set list in her livestream concert, and she had to overcome a number of creative challenges to get the show to this point, as she explains.
“This show is centred around my struggles with anxiety throughout the pandemic, especially around leaving the house. I took a deep dive into my archive of originals and spent just a few days writing and rewriting the show so I could share it online. I have to express my absolute gratitude to my partner Charlie and my close friends Adrian, Fred and Patrick for their support to make it possible while I was such an anxious mess. I’m incredibly proud of what we presented as a livestream in such short notice, especially how slick my Charlie made the production with minimal resources!”
The past 12 months have given Theodoros more experience and perspective to refine the show for audiences in 2021. When the time came to transfer the online show into a live performance she revised her original and livestream scripts and created a hybrid version of these shows.
“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve blended both versions of the show into something that feels somewhat new yet again, I’m also excited to have a little more space to move around given I now have a stage to play on, as opposed to the corner of my home office which became the livestream stage!”
In the spirit of connecting with other humans in person, she is offering a ukulele workshop prior to her live show and tickets for this can be bundled with tickets to the live show and dinner. She first came up with the idea to make a songbook for people enduring self isolation in April 2020.
“[I] started to work on ukulele arrangements for some popular songs, the vision was to create something for people to do at home whilst in lockdown while also helping them feel connected to others throughout the project.”
As the show developed the songbook concept became a stage show, but its initial livestream presentation meant that Theodoros missed the key element of human connection between audience and artist. Theodoros is looking forward to performing amongst other ukuleles in the audience, “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to teach some folx how to play the songs from my adapted Self Isolation Songbook and to have them playing along to the show from their seats.”
The idea for workshops came from an experience Theodoros had in 2013, when she created Depression the Musical. “I coupled rhythmic poetry inspired by stories from people with lived experience of depression.”
“When we took it on tour for Mental Health Week in 2014 we quietly invited ukulele players from across the state to bring their ukes and play along to ‘Creep’ by Radiohead. That song is about isolation and how we often feel siloed in our experiences, especially around mental health challenges, and so by having the music coming not just from the stage but also from around the audience it sent a powerful message ‘you are not alone’. This inspired me to host a pre-show workshop to help people feel included and connected throughout the show. Feedback from the livestream was that a lot of what I shared felt very relatable and so I want to keep opening up these conversations about our human need for positive social connection.”
Theodoros describes her show as a “rollercoaster ride” as it covers many themes including social anxiety, grief, loss, privilege, and racism presented with a light and playful humour. She recommends that you “pack your tissues just in case, but grab your chosen beverage at the bar on your way to your seat and get ready to raise your glass with a smile as we laugh at and reflect upon just how far we’ve all come since March 2020.”
Sharing experiences from across 2020 through poetry, song, yoga and multimedia, the Ukulele Dream Girl hopes to make you laugh, reflect and encourage you to be a little kinder to yourselves and those around you.
The multi-skilled artist can’t decide what her favourite medium for storytelling is, “this feels like trying to choose a favourite child (I’m not a parent yet, but I feel like this is a similar dilemma!). For me, I think storytelling is powerful in any form where you can connect with your audience directly, I love being able to blend stories and songs together and often will keep playing music and have a yarn with the audience while I’m cycling through chords.”
“While it’s exciting to have lots of cool production value (on a shoestring budget!), I think my favourite form of storytelling is simply being able to break through the fourth wall and to have an open and honest conversation with people – whether they’re sitting next to me at a cafe or in my audience at a venue.”
So, why should you come and see Self Isolation Songbook? It’s a chance to have a dinner, show, and ukulele jam session with one of Adelaide’s most colourful artists. The Ukulele Dream Girl invites you to “reflect, connect, learn, and grow through stories and songs.”
Self Isolation Songbook will be held at Diverse-City (116 Grote Street) this Saturday 27 November. Ukulele Workshop runs from 4pm – 5pm, doors open at 6pm for pre-show dinner and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets for the show only, + dinner and/or ukulele workshop are available here.