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Ursula Martinez: ‘I feel lucky to have been a part of La Clique and La Soiree’

Ursula Martinez. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Performance artist Ursula Martinez’s career has seen her perform with some of the biggest cabaret shows, including La Soiree and La Clique, and do intimate solo shows. Her latest, Free Admission, runs at Fierce Festival in Birmingham this month.

What can audiences expect from your show?

The show is called Free Admission – it’s sort of a pun on the fact that I freely admit things, not that it’s free. It’s kind of rooted in autobiography and personal experiences. I touch on quite a lot of meaty topics that exist outside of me but through my own personal experience. Gender politics, the internet, religion. It’s a series of short stories and anecdotes woven together like building a brick wall between myself and the audiences. Quite literally a brick wall – I’ve been on a bricklaying course. So I’m literally building the fourth wall between me and the audience.

How has your career progressed – have you always wanted to make the sort of work you are making now?

I’ve always approached it very organically, very pragmatically, which has its pros and cons. I make a show when I am absolutely ready to make a show, so I think I have consistently made high-quality work. I haven’t been very strategic about my trajectory but I am really happy with how things have gone. I have had amazing opportunities and experiences through my work, which have been really diverse as well. I am currently in Ibiza working on a commercial, exclusive, variety show, and next month I’ll be down at Fierce Festival doing my gritty, comedic one-woman show. I love that.

Has solo work always attracted you most?

I suppose I wanted to be an actor at the start and then I found that so difficult and unsatisfying, being at the mercy of someone else. Kind of out of frustration I started just doing my own work. I started doing cabaret at a performance club in London called Duckie, and that was that. I don’t always do solo work, but once I discovered that I was able to create work myself I never really looked back. I think I probably would go a bit mad to do the same thing all the time. Sometimes it’s great to just be part of a show where you’re not in charge and you don’t have all the responsibility. And then sometimes you want more responsibility and you want to be making something new. You want to just be on your own and be your own boss. It’s really important to mix things around. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to work in a commercial environment, a funded environment, in festivals, all sorts.

cv ursula martinezYou have also performed with La Soiree and La Clique, haven’t you?

I’m a founding member of La Clique and La Soiree, so by that token I can lay claim to three Olivier awards. One for a collective show that I did, C’est Duckie!, at the Barbican and I was one of the creators, and then La Clique has won one and so has La Soiree. They have been amazing things to work on. It’s been such a success and it’s still touring 11 years later, so I feel lucky to have been a part of that.

Free Admission runs at Fierce Festival [1] on October 10