“You get to the point where you feel like you have to start living up to your own expectations” – Phillip Lee Curtis on ‘Ego Jacket’
Ego Jacket is a term once coined by Kylie Minoque, and quoted by Michael Hutchinson. A phrase that, according to performer Phillip Lee Curtis, “allows a way for performers to hide their insecurities and to almost put on a brave face.” Preparing for the opening of his show of the same name, Curtis had time for a quick chat to Popculture-y about the self-improvement and storytelling at the heart of his new cabaret.
With two previous self-produced shows at The Butterfly Club under Curtis’ belt, Ego Jacket is the first of his shows to be held as part of a festival – this years’ upcoming Midsumma. “Midsumma is just more open and friendly, I have the vibe of it already – it’s safe place to start,” Curtis says.
With the promise of a rock odyssey cabaret, Curtis’ Ego Jacket promotes itself as an audio visual journey that explores themes of anxiety and self-sabotage. The audio aspect has an already hopeful feel attached to it – with a listing of Australian classics from Tina Arena to Nick Cave. “I’m not your musical theatre kid, I’m the pop rock kid,” Curtis explains, which is where the premise of a rock odyssey cabaret stemmed from, promising that the majority of the show is laid bare through the music itself.
The inspiration behind Ego Jacket was built, in part, from the multitude of experiences and emotions that many in there twenties will experience as they gradually age. “You learn as you get older just because you say everything is great, not everything is,” Curtis quips, a sentiment that many in their late twenties may be able to resonate with. “A lot of early twenties is self sabotage, you’ll go to the gym and then you’ll come home and order a pizza, because you deserve it,” is something that many will also probably relate on a slightly shaming, deeper level.
This theme of self-improvement seems to be prevalent within most of Curtis’ work, something telling of both his innovative and personal side, “You start answering to yourself a little bit, it’s easy to blame everyone else for your problem – you get to the point where you feel like you have to start living up to your own expectations.”
While Ego Jacket is a standalone production, it could be seen as a spiritual third chapter from one that has seen his previous two shows. “I’m trying to make it a step up, taking everything I learned while doing the first two shows and seeing what worked – whereas this time I’m really trying to create a show that utilises my strengths, which is why I think doing a festival this time around is another way of kind of seeing what happens differently – every time you do a show, you try and do a little bit better.”
Curtis perhaps phrases what to expect with Ego Jacket best, “I don’t see myself as an actor, I like to tell stories – so I focus on what I’m good at in that aspect. Give people a bit of a different performance – in some ways it’s classic cabaret, but in others it’s not.”
Ego Jacket is showing at the The MC Showroom from 31st January to 4th February as part of Midsumma Festival 2018. Tickets can be purchased via the Midsumma website.