Interview: Anita Giovannini Talks “Anita Luna THE DIVA”

I predict a bit of a whirlwind descending on Camden this Camden Fringe season…and her name is Anita Luna! Here, Anita Giovannini chats about the joy of playing this big character, of taking part in the Camden Fringe this year, and of theatre itself. This award-winning one woman show is set to play the Etcetera Theatre from 24-26 and 28-29 August 2021 and if this interview is anything to go by, audiences are in for a very colourful experience in the company of Anita Luna THE DIVA…

Anita Luna THE DIVA is obviously a big, bold and huge-hearted character. What do you love most about her, and playing her?

Anita Luna THE DIVA is my best bet on myself. She’s so glamorous, so divine… so Diva but yet she’s also so imperfectly perfect because of her human nature. A magical combination of being divine and human, She is led by her big HeArt . I admire her very much. She’s a big inspiration for me. She’s my master.

Anita Luna THE DIVA lives the life she really wants to live. She doesn’t give a f**k about what she’s supposed to act in society. She’s super exaggerated but so ironic; she always makes fun of herself and people can only love her.

When I’m playing her, it always feels like I’m at the best party ever; I discover how courageous I am because I allow myself to live my craziness, always risking something more. She has the ability to create a special HeArt to HeArt bond with everyone around her. I always have a lot of fun playing her.

She sure sounds like a hoot! Are you able to share any particular influences for the character or the show?

Jango Edwards, my master of clown, helped me first shape the character from 2013 to 2019; you could say Jango opened the door. Through his lead, I discovered and developed Anita Luna THE DIVA. And, just like in any master-pupil relationship, there came the moment when it was time to break off and walk my path alone, to gallop ahead like a free horse I am.

For me, Freddie Mercury and Marilyn Monroe were also ironic and exaggerated characters but so authentic at the same time; they make me laugh and cry at the same time, they make me emotional. I got inspired by them. Then, there was also the artistic life-changing experience watching Alan Cumming performing Cabaret, live on Broadway. This helped me to see the vision of how I could become on the stage.  

Most of all, travelling all around the world gives me a lot of ideas; my DIVA wig is always in my suitcase and THE DIVA can come out any time I’m on the road!. Many details of Anita Luna THE DIVA came out in this way, not only on stage but in life.

Those are some great influences. So this character arrived on the scene in 2013 and has played to audiences in London, New York, Brazil, Ireland, France and Holland. How have audiences responded to the character and show in that time? Is the audience reception ever distinctly different?

I had the chance to perform cabaret nights with Jango and other artists around the world. It was very stimulating, a huge learning opportunity performing to audiences from so many cultures. I did parts of my show and it was like going to school, taking something from each night to develop the character and to tune my interaction ability with the audiences. My one-woman show Anita Luna THE DIVA took form in these years, through these experiences.

The audience is always different even if the shows are in the same country. Every night, every time is a new experience, a new meeting of HeArts. For sure I’m also grateful when something unexpected happens while I’m performing. I can turn it to my favour; it’s like life. You can’t control everything.  You have to be ready to improvise.

For sure, there are places where people are more open and willing to interact, especially in England and Ireland. In both places, people were so enthusiastic with some coming back to watch it again. At the end of the show, we were all together, dancing on stage. I also had some people come up to give me a hug and say thank you. I feel like I’ve given them a piece of courage to be themselves.

And this show follows Luna from birth to decline, promising tragicomedy and transformation along the way. Are there any serious messages to be found within the high-energy entertainment on offer?

There is something very profound in the show: my meaning of life, the importance of self-love and to live life always with an open-heart but never being a victim. It’s just about living now, aware that we are on our own personal growth paths. Today, we are different from yesterday and tomorrow we’re also going to be different from today. So, why don’t we enjoy who we are right now? Every moment is unique. We just have to find courage to be self-confident, to be authentic, to really love who we are and not to give a f**k about expectations from the world around us.  Focus on today and not about tomorrow.

We can be happy today only if we heal the past. My story for example: when I was a child, I suffered because of my tomboy nature and people mistook me for a boy. Today, I am aware that my tomboy nature made me who I am today, it’s my superpower.

Another message from my show is that to live well, there needs to be a special ingredient to make our life an amazing adventure: irony & laughter. So don’t take yourself too seriously. We can always be better but we will never be perfect! To quote Anita Luna “I’m not worried about the future, I’m too busy enjoying my fabulosity”.

I love that! And with such a variety of skills promised, from singing, dancing and acrobatics over to moving objects with her mind, what are your top tips for maintaining stamina?

My secret is not going to the gym and not dieting. It works, I promise! I truly believe in the power of relaxing and letting things go. In the past, I used to be more focused on techniques to build skills like acrobatic workouts and singing. Now what works for me is practicing meditation, yoga and tai-chi, working on creating the divine connection between my body and soul to my spirit through my breathing. It’s not about performing perfectly on stage. It’s much more about putting together ability and skills with the connection to my HeArt, and being real and true to myself; in this way, I feel this leads me right into the hearts of people.

Tell me a little about Valetino, Luna’s personal valet – how does that dynamic play out?

Anita Luna THE DIVA is telling me not to talk about her Valet-ino because this is a big surprise in the show (even for Her!). I can only say he isn’t the usual ‘cliché’ valet that we’ve seen before. And now I have to shut the f**k up about this otherwise She’ll get mad!! (and you never want to see her mad). Come and see the show and it’s really going to be unexpected!

Consider me schtum… You have spent time involved in an impressive array of art forms and disciplines: short film, monologue, theatre, singer/songwriter, circus and live performance art. How did clowning and physical theatre in particular win your heart?

I come from Italy where theatre is still traditional, full of words. I felt very bored with this style so I started searching for something more. When I met Jango and the world of clown and performing arts, I finally felt at home because I’ve always felt that words are superfluous if they are not connected to physical expression. It’s all about getting to the point with the power of the body and not with overacting with words. Because of my willingness to perform around the world, clown and physical theatre is the perfect way to express my HeArt. Clowning and physical theatre force you to get to the core of what you really want to express and not lie on the superficiality of words.

Beautifully put. Now, the show is part of this year’s Camden Fringe. What does the event mean to you, particularly at such a challenging time for the industry?

I’m very happy to perform at the Etcetera Theatre, a beautiful and significant venue in Camden Fringe that’s a festival full of artists who, like me, want to perform live.

Performing artists who live for their live performances cannot exist without the interactions with the audience. We, as performing artists, were born to bring people together, to get emotional together, to reach catharsis. I go on stage with the hope of making people emotional and giving courage to the audience to live their lives without fear and to be proud of who they are and what they feel.

We are all human, we were born to share. This is a great opportunity to start again; without sharing we are already dead. Even if it will be different than in the past, and travelling is so complicated now, I’m so happy to be part of the Camden Fringe, return to my beloved London, and go back on stage! My heart feels an explosion of joy.

I so wish I could see this show – my heart might just explode with disappointment after this! So finally, in just one sentence, why should the audience book to see Anita Luna THE DIVA?

There is no one in the world who can act, sing, do acrobatics, move an orange with her mind AND whose pee is pure Himalayan water and poo is vegan:…. hang on… there’s Anita Luna THE DIVA, isn’t that enough a reason?

So there you have it! Remember, Anita Luna THE DIVA plays the Etcetera Theatre from 24-26 and 28-29 August 2021 and you can find your tickets here.

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