a cabaret of shakespearean proportions

About The Show

A cabaret of Shakespearean proportions.

A maelstrom of archetypal ancestry, this irreverent mash-up of contemporary music and Shakespearean text follows the greatest of Shakespeare’s heroines to their dramatic demise. Our contemporary role models are rock stars, but in Shakespeare’s time the Queens were tweeting selfies just the same.

Find out what happens when Shakespeare’s misfortunate maidens are revealed through the music of Amy Winehouse, Rhianna, Florence + The Machine and then some…

As Ophelia so deftly put it: ‘Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.’

“Think Moulin Rouge in iambic pentameter”

Robert Chuter

ArtsHub Australia

“Wickedly provocative…”

Stephen Russell

The Age, Melbourne

Artistic Statement

Whores and Weeping Women was born from the frustration of two years as an understudy in Shakespeare and Musical Theatre.

During this time, sometimes performing Shakespeare during the day & musical theatre at night, I had the opportunity to question, ‘What is it that makes a leading lady?’

This prompted an exploration of ‘greatness’ in all its forms & guises across the course of history, through the women we exalt as perfect embodiments of the divine- queens in Shakespeare’s time, pop divas in contemporary culture.

To my surprise I discovered that these ‘perfect women’ were hugely flawed. Delving deeper into their flaws and inconsistencies I discovered that their greatest weakness- far from being an obstacle, was also the source of their fame & greatest strength.

As Shakespeare said of Cleopatra:

‘For her own person, it beggar’d all description. Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.’

Greatness then, was as simple as making peace with ourselves.

And celebrating our own infinite variety.


Carla Kissane

Carla Kissane

Writer & Performer

Carla is thrilled to be playing Medea in Miriam Grill’s directing thesis production of ‘Medea’ at the Lenfest Centre of the Arts.

Born in Perth, Western Australia, Carla trained at the Victorian College of the Arts (Bachelor of Dramatic Art-Acting) in Melbourne, Australia. Carla also has a B.A (English)Theatre Arts major from Curtin University and a Certificate of Music Theatre from the National Theatre Drama School.

An Actor’s Equity Association member since gaining permanent residency in the USA, recent productions include ‘Babette’s Feast’ at the Connelly Theatre, ‘From Oz to Oz’ at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre, and Cleopatra in ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ directed by Miriam Grill for Columbia University.

In 2014 Carla underwent a year of artistic residency at Victoria University (Diploma of Creative Industries) and completed an international study tour of New York City, training in Suzuki & Viewpoints at the SITI Theatre Company. Carla moved to New York in 2016 after marrying the love of her life- a boy from Brooklyn.

Roles with the Australian Shakespeare Company include Mistress Quickly in ‘Henry IV part 1’at the Athenaeum Theatre, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Duchess), ‘Macbeth’(1st Witch, gentlewoman), ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ and ‘Comedy of Errors’ (female understudy).

Australian touring productions include ‘Cosi’ and ‘The Crucible’ with Complete Works Theatre Company; Lux Radio Theatre’s ‘Gone With The Wind’, and a 12-month Australian National tour as the resident swing on ‘Motherhood The Musical’ (Amy, Barb, Trisha & Brooke) for HIT Productions.

A career highlight was creating the role of Celeste at the Melbourne Recital Centre for Magnormos in the Australian premiere production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical- ‘Saturday Night’.

Solo Shakespearean cabaret ‘Whores and Weeping Women’ premiered in 2013 at The Butterfly Club Melbourne, with subsequent seasons throughout 2014-15 at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth and The Owl & the Pussy Cat in Melbourne.

Television roles include Heidi Kesper in Channel 7’s ‘Winners and Losers’ pilot, and Janine Kent in the Ten Network’s series ‘Offspring’, series #4, episode #1. TVC’s include the role of the peacekeeper for ‘Smiths Chips’ which ran nationally for six months.

Carla is a registered New York Tour Guide; and delights in welcoming visitors from all over the world to visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.

She also plays the violin & viola; is a trained mezzo musical theatre singer and has studied jazz vocals & Indian classical raga.

Andrew Blackman

Andrew Blackman

Director/ Dramaturg

Andrew graduated from NIDA in 1990 with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Acting) and has worked across television, stage and screen in Australia since that time as an actor, director and producer. In 1999, he founded Complete Works Theatre Company, widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading education theatre companies. The company performs productions of contemporary and classical theatre to over 34,000 Victorian secondary school students annually. As director and producer his credits include Cosi, The Crucible, Life of Galileo, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Romeo and Juliet, A Mid Summer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Oedipus Rex, Richard III, Othello, Hamlet, Terra Australis, Federation Express, The Word Superb, Phat Poetry, Poetry Alive and Off the Canvas. In 2007-8, Andrew directed A Man For All Seasons, touring to Melbourne metropolitan and Victorian regional centres with successful education tours again in 2009 and 2010.

He coordinated & directed the Cubbies Theatre Project, in collaboration with object theatre group Men of Steel, produced and directed Monkey Fights the Water Dragon, an outdoor theatre event staged at the Knox Festival in 2011, supported by Arts Victoria’s Community Partnerships Program.

In 2013, he directed Cosi by Louis Nowra for the QUT, Creative Industries third year graduating acting ensemble and Whores and Weeping Women at the Butterfly Club.

With support though the Art Centre Melbourne’s, Sprout Development Program he has co-authored a retelling of Monkey – The Journey to the West for the main stage. Other writing credits include Off the Canvas for RAV and Poetry Alive!

Andrew is a regular performer on Australian television, appearing most recently in House Husbands, Dr Blake Mysteries, Underbelly: Squizzy, Winners & Losers, Satisfaction and the multi-award winning children’s television series, Mortified. Other long running series include Neighbours, A Country Practice, Stingers, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, City Homicide. He is currently playing the palaeontologist, Huxley, for Global Creatures in the 2014 USA/Canada tour of Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular. His theatre credits include MTC’s The Aunt’s Story and Kid Stakes and roles in independent productions of Shadow Passion, Pravda, Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew, A Mid Summer Night’s Dream, Othello and The Woman in Black.

Andrew Patterson

Musical Director & Performer

Andrew Patterson is the co-author of the acclaimed musical ‘Eurobeat’ and its soon to be released sequel. He is currently performing with the Melbourne company of ‘Wicked’.

Andrew was Assistant Musical Director on professional runs of ‘Rock Of Ages” and ‘The Rocky Horror Show,’ ‘Leader Of The Pack’ and ‘Oh, What A Night’ for New Theatricals and ‘King Kong’ for Global Creatures and has played piano and keyboard on shows such as ‘We Will Rock You,’ ‘The Producers,’ ‘Cats,’ ‘Beauty & The Beast’ and ‘Legally Blonde’

Andrew has acted as Musical Director for productions of Jon English’s ‘Paris’ (World Premiere), ‘Into The Woods,’ ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ ‘Anything Goes’ (University of Ballarat), ‘City of Angels’ (Victorian College of Arts) and ‘Blood Brothers’ (Manilla Street Productions). He has also been involved with over a dozen shows by Melbourne’s The Production Company, including ‘Crazy For You,’ ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,’ ‘Grey Gardens’ and ‘Chess.’

Andrew has written six original musicals and been instrumental in the workshopping and production of new Australian works including ‘Dream Song’ and ‘Eureka.’

A much sought after accompanist for auditions and performers, Andrew has also toured extensively with cabaret superstars Paul Capsis and Rhonda Burchmore. He is also a skilled arranger/orchestrator and was once a fine clarinetist.

Andrew lives in Melbourne with his beautiful wife Helen and their four amazing children.

Press & Reviews

POP CULTURE-Y (Interview) - Nov 2013
November 2013

By Ryan A Murphy – http://popculture-y.com/2013/11/interview-carla-kissane-in-whores-and-weeping-women/

Carla Kissane, actor, singer, writer and all-round ball of talent, is slowly becoming one of those recognisable faces on the Melbourne theatre scene. Having first seen her delightful performance in Neil Cole’s play Groucho (a play chronicling the ups and downs of the remarkable Groucho Marx) I am extremely excited to be able to tap into the mind of an artist who has written and is performing the women of Shakespeare, while mashing them up with contemporary tunes from Amy Winehouse, Florence + The Machine and many more present-day musical queens.

What inspired you to take on and tackle Shakespeare? And then give it a contemporary flicker with songs from twenty first century divas?

Shakespeare was pretty much my first love. I saw Antony and Cleopatra at age 10 and have been mesmerised by his poetry and understanding of human nature ever since. In delving into his cannon as an actor, I became obsessed with the vices, foibles and flaws of his greatest heroine’s. With the assistance of my collaborators, I attempted to find a contemporary female role model who would allow an audience to receive Shakespeare’s characters in a different light- through the lens of popular culture.

There are no doubt a lot of risks tackling a project like this. How long were you working on the show and did you close yourself off to the world or did you let others come in and use them as a sounding board?

As Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage…” and I really believe this to be the case.

Shakespeare was inspired by the world he lived in, and whilst referencing the past he still managed to comment on contemporary life. I have tried to stay open to the myriad of resonances popular culture affords us in mirroring life, and I always find that the best work is collaborative, because we do not live inside a bubble! I have had many and varied sounding boards; from touring companies and photographers, to academics and actors. Having said this, it’s been almost a full year of exploration to bring this project to life onstage.

I was lucky enough to see your wonderful performance in Neil Cole’s Groucho. What is it like working with someone like Don Bridges who directed you in Groucho and has appeared in countless stage productions and on screen and is now featuring in your show?

Don is a wonderful actor to work with, because he plays the edge between mischief and reverence with abandoned delight! I have an immense respect for his years of experience in the theatre, and his stories are priceless. There’s always a lot of trust and tomfoolery working with Don; the perfect environment to make new work. Don and I go back eight years. Our first gig together was in a theatre restaurant, of all places. I played a demented dominatrix and Don was a deformed but lovable leading man. Some of this background has proved quite useful in conceiving Whores and Weeping Women! Don does wonderful service with the Victorian Actor’s Benevolent Trust; a charity well worth supporting.

Do you have any other plans for the show? Are there plans to tour it or are you just letting this season play out?

I’m hoping this show will have a life beyond its season, investors are most welcome! It would be an simple show to tour…we’ll do our best to make it a good one, and hopefully there will be further opportunities for it to reach a wider audience.

How have you personally prepared to take on this play? Of course having written it helps to make it somewhat familiar. But performing it and lifting it from the pages is no easy feat and I can only imagine it’s a demanding show to play.

It’s been really difficult to switch between writer/dramaturge and actor on this work. And Shakespeare has written most of the words for me! I have a new respect for writers! In all seriousness, I’ve spent the year training my voice, doing lots of yoga and have a scrupulous team who won’t accept anything inauthentic. A major part of this process is letting go of ideas and engaging with what’s working on the floor. I’ve always been a ruthless slicer of other people’s work, so I’ve had a taste of my own medicine in adapting this piece for an audience, and very generous collaborators to thank for it!

And finally, I like to ask this question of people as I’ve always found it interesting to talk to people about their futures and their dreams. Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

Bringing Shakespeare and cabaret to the people! Riding the edge of artistic risk and authenticity with abandon. As generous and fierce as my collaborators on this project: Andrew Blackman, Andrew Patterson and Don Bridges.

Whores and Weeping Women, written and performed by Carla Kissane and directed by Andrew Blackman, can be seen at the Butterfly Club from the 19th November – 24th November. To buy tickets, head along to The Butterfly Club.

By Stephen A. Russell – View article on website

Whores and Weeping Women is wickedly provocative.

The title of Carla Kissane’s latest work,Whores and Weeping Women, is wickedly provocative. It’s an irreverent cabaret that reveals Shakespeare’s leading ladies at their worst, as well as their finest. The show takes the Bard’s dramatic verse and mashes it up with pop music from Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse and Rihanna.

”I called it Whores and Weeping Womenbecause of this idea that you can either be pure or debauched, black or white,” says the playwright and performer.

”This idea of binary oppositions that doesn’t allow us to find a middle path.”

In comparing Shakespeare’s queens and court ladies to today’s controversial pop stars, Kissane aims to challenge traditional notions of womanhood.

”He didn’t put these women on a pedestal,” she says. ”He really expressed their weaknesses and foibles … but at the same time he has so much compassion. He’s never judging.”

The germ of the play was born when Kissane was touring Australia with Motherhood the Musical, while also playing understudy for the Australian Shakespeare Company’s The Comedy of Errors.

”I was living in two different worlds, quickly embodying lots of different women,” Kissane says. ”It just felt a bit like a brain workout, a huge exploration on the theme of what it means to be a woman.”

Having studied the texts at length, she feels that Shakespeare was something of a proto-feminist. Even the most troubling of Shakespeare’s characterisations, such as Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, can be unpicked, she says.

”It’s hard to interpret from a contemporary perspective, but I can appreciate the levels of irony. For me, Shakespeare’s making a comment on the contract of relationship, of compromise, and how to become more skilled in the navigation of that.”

Jane Montgomery Griffiths, head of the centre for theatre and performance at Monash University, has performed for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Britain and toured Australia with Bell Shakespeare’s King Lear.

”Shakespeare’s women are pretty amazing, but the bummer for a middle-aged actress is that they start to dry up once you hit 30,” she says. ”When you hit your 40s, that’s when the harridans start to appear.”

Griffiths’ Shakespearean roles have included Imogen in Cymbeline and Goneril in King Lear.

”You have the autonomous and self-motivated characters … or the characters that are absolutely subsumed within a male world, so you get somebody like Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew – that’s some very interesting sexual politics, because she starts out baulking against the patriarchy and, of course, is tamed into it.”

With the exception of Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Shakespearean heroines don’t have children.

”They tend to be autonomous and searching for a degree of freedom, but then they are always reincorporated back into the patriarchy,” Griffiths says. ”It’s very interesting to work it out now, from a contemporary perspective. Are these decent role models or not?”

By Andrew Fuhrmann – View website

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Whores and Weeping Women

Butterfly Club

Until November 24 2013

Even Shakespeare leaves us wanting when it comes to serious roles for women. We get Cleopatra, of course, but most of his female characters, original as they are, all have something opaque about them, a sort of limit that the Bard was only able to transcend in the greatest of his male creations.

Carla Kissane’s Whores and Weeping Women is in part a celebration of the power and variety of Shakespeare’s heroines, but also an irreverent caricature of this limit. The idea is a simple one – almost crassly naive – but also kind of brilliant: a cabaret combining Shakespeare’s text with contemporary pop music.

Accompanied by Andrew Patterson on piano, Kissane sets the tone with a very punchy mash-up of Kate’s defence of wifely submission in The Taming of the Shrew and Eminem’s ode to connubial bliss Love the Way You Lie.

Other pairings include Isabella from Measure for Measure with Miley Cyrus, and Ophelia with Florence and the Machine.

It’s all very rough and humble and doesn’t always flow seamlessly, but Kissane is an experienced Shakespearean whose confidence with the text elevates this above mere post-postmodern farce.

artsreview.com.au – View website

Who is Carla Kissane?

I’m an actor and singer, living and working in Melbourne.

What would you do differently to what you do now?

More silly dancing in the privacy and comfort of my home.

Who inspires you and why?

Audra Macdonald; because she sings with every last cell in her body and the sounds go through to my very core.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?

Listen more than I talk.

Favourite holiday destination and why?

Perth, Western Australia; Family and pristine white beaches that stretch into eternity…..

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?

Peninsula Hot Springs – it’s the best way to shake off world weariness. An immersion for body and soul.

What are you currently reading?

The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy. A book of poetry written from the perspective of the women behind famous men – Mrs Darwin and Queen Kong are my favorites!

What are you currently listening to?

Bill Burnett’s I Regret Everything, sung by Patti LuPone. It’s the ultimate cure for perfectionism.

Happiness is?


What does the future hold for you?

Shakespearean Cabaret. Silly dances. Listening. Gratitude.

Born in Perth, and graduating from the VCA (Bachelor of Dramatic Art-Acting) in 2009, Carla Kissane has recently returned from a 12 month national tour as the resident swing on Motherhood The Musical for HIT Productions, and is thrilled to be performing in Whores & Weeping Women.

Recent performances have included Lux Radio Theatre’s 2013 Queensland Tour of Gone With The Wind, and Groucho for the Jewish Theatre Trust at Chapel off Chapel in 2012. Roles with the Australian Shakespeare Company include Mistress Quickly in Henry IV part 1 at the Athenauem Theatre, Alice in Wonderland (Duchess), Macbeth (1st Witch, gentlewoman), Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Comedy of Errors (female understudy).

2010 involved Channel 7’s Winners and Losers pilot, touring Cosi and The Crucible around Victoria with Complete Works Theatre Company; and creating the role of Celeste at the Melbourne Recital Centre for Magnormos on Sondheim’s Saturday Night.

Carla has a B.A (English) Theatre Arts major from Curtin Uni, W.A, and a Certificate of Music Theatre (National Theatre Drama School). Roles whilst at the VCA include Clytemnestra (The Oresteia), Yelena (Uncle Vanya), Brutus (Julius Caesar), Liza (ACTION), and Betty (Vinegar Tom).

Previous Seasons

14th – 15th November 2014

His Majesty’s Theatre,

Perth, Western Australia


 3rd November 2014

The Owl and The Pussycat

Melbourne, Australia


19th – 24th November 2013

The Butterfly Club

Melbourne, Australia