Inspiration Behind The Act: Lilly Laudanum’s Liber-Ation

You see the acts on stage and, aside from obviously getting excited by what you see unfolding (or being uncovered) in front of your eyes, sometimes you think, ‘How the hell did they come up with that idea?!’ Lilly Laudanum let’s us into the inspiration behind her Liber-Ation act…

I’ve wanted to do a balloon pop for as long as I’ve been doing burlesque (which is since 2009!) and the idea of grapes first came up when DeeDee and myself were performing together and thought a great idea for an act would be if we both turned up at a ‘fancy dress party’ as a bunch of grapes. We were going to call it ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’ as the intention was to burst one another’s grapes in anger! At that time, we discovered there were a few performers doing a grapes balloon burst so we ditched the idea.

AspendosAs many of you know, I’m very interested in history. I read a lot of books on ‘interesting’ periods of time (mainly times of horror, torture, crazy events and strange ritualistic behaviors). I used to research and write a lot of the shows at The London Dungeon when I was at the helm of the actor’s company – so researching the obscure facts comes naturally. As I was reading about the worship of Dionysus (ancient Greece – it’s because of this celebration that we have theatre, and certainly comedy and burlesque, thanks to the play write Aristophanes who penned works specially for the festival of Dionysus) and Bacchus (the Roman version of this god – see the pic I took in turkey – above), I stumbled upon the Roman mystery cults – and in particular the women-only festivals of the god Liber. Mystery cults are basically secret cults that perform rituals and religiously worship gods among other things, not sanctioned by the ‘officials’. The God Liber (the ‘Free One’) is associated with freedom, fertility and wine and was celebrated at first, three times a year at rituals that involved getting wrecked and naked. Nice.

In a nutshell, as the Liber celebrations went on, the cult expanded and the celebrations soon included men and in turn got a little out of hand. More and more people got ‘Liberated’ shall we say; Liber-parties were happening every week – often turning into orgies. The Roman senate got word of this – possibly because they weren’t invited – and decided you can have too much of a good thing and banned them.  They were later re-instated (to include the Senate and any one else who wanted to party, go wild and get liber-ated!) and incorporated into the Bacchanalian festivals. Bacchus, as we know, is the Roman equivalent of the Ancient Greek Dionysus.

As a feminist, I love the idea of ladies going wild, letting their hair down and feeling the Liber-Ation so this idea re-invigorated the balloon pop that has been in the back of my mind for a few years. It’s especially relevant in the spring as one of the most important times in the Liber-worship calender is the end of March/early April, when one of these ritual (parties!) would have taken place. As my husband says, ‘Always make time for wine’. Cheers!


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