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Manuelita uses physical theatre, music, storytelling and comedy to tell the story of the lover and co-strategist of Latin America's 19th century revolutionary Simon Bolivar, Manuelita Saenz. Neglected from official Latin American history, she has recently been more widely recognised and was given a state burial in Venezuela in 2010.

Manuelita centres a visually striking hyper-reality around a sexy, charismatic and multi-faceted female lead, and its playful, pacey and poetic interpretation of history will strike a chord with any intrigued by the question, “who wants to hear about the Madonna when you can hear about a whore?”

The play suggests that Manuelita's erasure from history is evident in both the public’s ignorance of her bravery, ambition and military prowess and in patriarchal history's neglect of passion, music, sex and dance in favour of dry military analysis. Writer and performer Tamsin Clarke plays Manuelita as a storyteller and proto-feminist, unhappy to be sidelined. She asserts not that she was Bolivar's lover but that he was hers. This theme of self-assertion is typified when she refuses to let the musician, Columbian guitarist Camilo Meniura, take centre stage. It is therefore fitting that Bolivar himself has a minimal role in the play, and the degree to which he regards her mind and not just her body is left ambiguous.

Clarke demands the audience's attention as she fills the stage, convincingly playing Manuelita throughout her life, in various guises of “the bastard, the beauty, the wife, the whore, the soldier, the loca.” She also uses excellent comic timing to provide humorous snippets of other characters. There is imaginative use of the stage and minimal propping: a chair transforms believably into a horse, among other roles.

At times, Clarke darts around the audience demanding our attention, admiration and compliance, although there is not a lot of audience participation required. The music fits perfectly, swiftly moving between triumphalism, despair and humour, echoing Manuelita's proclaimed need for dance, music and passion.

Manuelita centres a visually striking hyper-reality around a sexy, charismatic and multi-faceted female lead, and its playful, pacey and poetic interpretation of history will strike a chord with any intrigued by the question, “who wants to hear about the Madonna when you can hear about a whore?”


31st Jul 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
1st Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
2nd Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
3rd Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
4th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
5th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
6th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
7th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
8th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
9th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
10th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
11th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
13th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
14th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
15th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
16th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
17th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
18th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
19th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
20th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
21st Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
22nd Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
23rd Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate
24th Aug 201412:40pmUnderbelly, Cowgate
56 Cowgate

The Blurb

The revolutionary who captured the spirit of a continent. A tour-de-force by Lecoq-trained Tamsin Clarke, featuring Colombian guitarist Camilo Menjura (2014 Latin UK Awards Musician Of The Year). Blending storytelling, comedy, physical theatre and live music, Manuelita promises Fringe-goers a toe-tapping, heart-swelling lunchtime treat.

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