Teena Pugliese (R to L: Vanda Mystere, Burgundy Kate, Sweet Tee)
Toil & Trouble
Toil and Trouble is Los Angeles’s first Shakespearean burlesque company, made up of some of the country’s best-known performers and rising stars. With each show centering on a new theme (recently “betrayal,” “villainy,” and “unrequited love”), audiences are going mad over the troupe’s fearless performances and bold storytelling — all of which were conceived by the company’s creator, Angie Hobin.
Hobin, who is known in the burlesque world as Burgundy Kate, thought of the idea of merging her passion for burlesque and Shakespeare three years ago while at a disappointing waitressing job. “I got a bottle of wine, sat down at my desk, and wrote up a list of everything I could think of that made me truly happy,” she tells The Advocate. “At the top of the list were performing, Shakespeare, and burlesque.”
One of the most ingenious things about Shakespeare is that he wrote for everyone. You didn't have to be a scholar to enjoy his plays. The same thing rings true for burlesque.
“Burlesque is a platform for an artist to express without restrictions,” Hobin explains. “I've seen everything from lovely retro artists performing acts reminiscent to something you would have seen in New Orleans circa 1940 to a woman chopping up a lifelike baby doll and drinking the blood from its limbs and smearing the rest of it onto her bared breasts. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any limits as to what you can and cannot do … [Burlesque] is an invitation to do and be whatever you want, for five to 10 minutes, mostly naked.”
With the enormous help of co-producers Teena Pugliese and Kayla Emerson, the company is in for a long and joyous ride. Currently, they’re working on doing a full-length version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with about eight to 10 burlesque acts peppered in and throughout.
“Doing what you love, no matter how weird you think it is creates a certain kind of energy that other people want to be a part of,” Hobin says. “We work really hard, so that when the curtain goes up, we can all relax and have fun.”
Toil & Trouble currently does one show a month. To find out about its next show, visit ToilAndTroubleBurlesque.com.