Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Chansons: Songs & Stories
from Piaf, Brel and Me
Bienvenue to Chansons, the musical intercultural cabaret. Live life the French way. Experience joie de vivre. Created by award-winning musical theatre actress Stefanie Rummel. Spoken in English; sung in French, English. Accompanied by Bogdan Pieleanu, Tom Schlueter, Bob Egan.
Hi Stefanie, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current, how does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe & C Venues, C aquila this summer?
It is such a pleasure to present my musical cabaret Chansons – Songs and Stories from Piaf, Brel and Me in Edinburgh, a city with so much cultural heritage and which supports so wonderfully art. There are so many interesting people to meet, Enriching experiences are to come. Future opportunities are around the corner. It feels so nice to share autobiographical or researched stories and ‘Soul touching’ songs with the audience from the 5th to the 21st of August at 5:45 at C aquila in Edinburgh. .
Will there be any nerves before Chansons: Songs and Stories from Piaf, Brel and Me comes to C venues?
I am excited that Chansons is going to be part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There are many things to prepare, but I am quite organized for the moment. Connecting to you, the press for example, is what I love. Flyers and posters are done and will get printed... The show already exists since December 2019. I have adjusted my 100 minute musical cabaret to the Fringe format. I received such positive audience feedback just yesterday when I performed my show for the national French holiday celebration of the 14th of July at a French restaurant. A business man was thankful because my songs made him relax and breathe through. A lady came and that she had tears in her eyes because it was so beautiful. I am looking forward to meet my audience in Edinburgh.
The reviews for your shows have been amazing, what has it meant to you to get such praise for your shows?
I am so thankful for the British reviews of Helen Tope (TheReviewHub) and Chris Omaweng (LondonTheater1). It shows that Chansons is perceived very positively in an international setting. Theatres and the art industry can get a more profound view on my show. I am looking forward to meet more of these people. It supports my artistic work. It makes it more seen. As a singer and artist this strengthens my artistic presence on an international level.
What does Edinburgh Fringe mean to you?
It means: Connecting. Developing. Reaching out. I already met many interesting people from the industry and I am looking forward to meet more in Edinburgh. Performing for a longer run at one venue is a wonderful opportunity for my musical cabaret Chansons to grow and to be seen internationally. During and beyond the Edinburgh Fringe connections are made which will have a strong impact on my artistic career.
Can you tell me how Chansons: Songs and Stories from Piaf, Brel and Me came about, what was the inspiration behind this show?
Since my childhood I spent regularly time in France. I got very much influenced by the French culture – how they spend time together, how to eat delicious food, how they enjoy life from various angles.
When a theatre asked me to do a full show with French Chansons, it felt so natural to me. A part of me feels French. I share moments in my musical cabaret which I experienced myself living in France. My stories highlight the little things in life which create the ‘Joie de Vivre’. The joy of enjoying life. The French Chansons has been always around me. I love to sing those musical artworks about love and life in English, French, German… This music can deeply touch us beyond words. Like Victor Hugo says. “What we cannot talk about and cannot be quiet about music expresses.”
What was it about Piaf & Brel and the music they create that connected with you so much?
Edith Piaf is the grand dame of the French Chanson. Her songs have travelled the world.
Piaf means sparrow – a nickname for the singing bird of those times. Whether it is “La Vie en Rose”, “Padam” or “L’Accordeoniste” I have heard her songs so often that they became part of my repertoire. The Belgian Jacques Brel is the icon in lyrics and chansons. Just think of “Ne me quitte pas” or “Amsterdam”. Some of his songs have been covered by hundreds of artists. There are also other French singer I love: Lara Fabian, ZAZ, Juliette Greco, Patricia Kaas, Charles Aznavour and many more. There are many musical genres you will be able to hear in my show.
I am interested in songs that tell stories and have deeper poetic meanings. That is the essence of a Chanson for me.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced bringing this show to the stage?
The biggest challenge was Covid. I premiered in December 2019 and the in person shows got stopped in March 2020. On the other hand the digital world opened up and I travelled virtually to New York, San Francisco, Florida, London, Wellington, Lathi (Finnland),.. I met so many interesting artists and theatre makers during that time. Connections that last. We support each other beyond borders... That is also what my show is about.
Have you always had a passion for cabaret?
Musical cabaret has been always a part of my artistic presence.
I have done it since I studied musical theatre. What I love about musical cabaret? It is the connection to the audience. The unforeseen turns into a moment of joy or deeply shared emotions. It is Interaction and reaction. My audience says that I have a warmhearted and personal way to approach them. This makes them at ease to interact. I love to improvise with what happens in a specific moment. That makes musical cabaret never the same... Yesterday for example a floating balloon appeared in my show... I took it... connected the lyrics to its movements... and the song floated like the balloon - as well as the audiences eyes... Another time waves of laughter passed by us... or a moment of enriching mutual reflection was shared.
Has your style and the approach to your work changed much since you started out?
After the first lockdown, I directly bought a good quality webcam, microphone, monitor, streamdeck... I got OBS to create a multimedia show and streamed my own shows online. Music videos were recorded and became semifinalist at music award competitions. I also won 5 awards with pieces from my show Chansons. I produced piano recordings to perform my show wherever I want. That helped me to flow with the new time. This expertise which I developed, I use in my shows now.
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer fellow musicians?
Let challenges make you grow and connect to colleagues beyond borders. See what the new opportunities are and go for it.
Create masterminds with colleagues. Support each other. We all grow more when we learn from each other. Believe in what you do and allow growth.
"If we stay curious for each other – multicultural understanding will be easier and it is so interesting to find out more about it."
And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from Chansons: Songs and Stories from Piaf, Brel and Me?
My musical cabaret Chansons is about the ‘Joie de Vivre’ or ‘Savoir Vivre’. The French culture stands for the art of living through haute couture, perfume, fine dining and my other aspects beyond the obvious.
By looking at other cultures, through stories and songs, we can reflect our own culture and life... How do others spend time, how do they enjoy time together, what and how do they eat....? If we stay curious for each other – multicultural understanding will be easier and it is so interesting to find out more about it.
As a German singer who has lived in France and in the US I have observed and adjusted to different cultures. By speaking other languages a more profound part of tradition and behaviour has become part of me. I share some of these insights with the audience.
One of the songs, I sing in 16 languages and the song has been translated into 120 languages. Thus those chansons are sung all over the world. They touch peoples minds beyond words. Songs can unite us and build bridges.