When a criminal barrister becomes a show producer... INTERVIEW

Who are you Sam Jenkins?

I am a qualified criminal barrister currently doing a PhD in cybercrime. I very much enjoy burlesque and figure skating and as a result I produced the world premiere of Burlesque on Ice in 2014. When I am not doing academic work I enjoy producing burlesque shows and I am about to produce my very first burlesque show in Stratford upon Avon: A Midsummer Night’s Tease.

Burlesque On Ice 2014 - Credit: Tigz Rice

Why bringing burlesque to Stratford-Upon-Avon (Warwickshire)?

I grew up in Stratford and was very much aware that there was very little entertainment for adults if you did not really want to go and see Shakespeare at the RSC. I was aware that the ArtsHouse was trying to change the type of entertainment offered in Stratford so I decided to contact them to see if they would be interested in burlesque and cabaret and they jumped at the chance to do something different. The venue has been really supportive which has made putting on the show a lot easier!


Is it different to organising shows in London? If so how?

Yes. For a start none of the performers are local so you have to factor in timings and travel expenses. Stratford is not that easy to get to by train – the trains are not that regular and the last one back to London is 9.30pm so you really do have to factor that in. In addition, this venue is a much bigger venue than the typical ones used for burlesque in London. It has a large stage and full stage lighting so there is more technical preparation required than for some of the smaller venues in London.


How do you select the performers for your show ?

For this show I started by talking to a friend of mine who performed in my last show, Briar Rouge to see if she would be willing to travel to Stratford.

Then I approached a couple of other performers who I had worked with before or who were due to be involve in a show in London which got cancelled when the theatre closed down, to see if they would be interested. After this initial selection, I placed an ad on Facebook in the burlesque groups and then sorted through the videos to find a mix of acts which offer something different from each other.

What makes according to you a good performer?

An ability to engage the audience. I have seen some fantastic performers who can dance really well and are excellent at clothing removal but so not really perform. There is no audience interaction. I think the best performers are those with the most confidence who are not afraid to stand in front of an audience and know in their own mind how fabulous and sexy they are. It is not an arrogance but a self belief which makes the audience really connect with the performer.


What are you looking forward to the most?

Watching how the audience in Stratford upon Avon reacts to burlesque. I am really hoping my home town will embrace it and this will give me the opportunity to produce more shows in the future. I am also looking forward to meeting Kiki deVille who is hosting my show. She has been absolutely lovely by email and I very much look forward to meeting her in person.

Photo by MyBoudoir Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell

Any other upcoming event in the pipeline?

I am in discussion with the ArtsHouse about future events in Stratford and I am in charge of the entertainment for their charity Valentine Masquerade Ball which is taking place on February 18th 2017. I am planning another ice show along the lines of Burlesque on Ice but that is in the early stages and will not take place until I have finished my PhD which has to come first!


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