Noveltease Theatre is a literary burlesque theatre company in Seattle, WA producing unique adaptations of classic novels.
Noveltease Theatre produces contemporary burlesque plays, blending neo-burlesque styling with the theatrical roots of burlesque theatre in the 1880s. Though a combination of text and dance, we seek to embody literature and create shared community around storytelling. We stage unique burlesque adaptations of classic works of theatre and literature in order to reclaim and rework the canon from a sex-positive, queer, and feminist standpoint that enlivens and transforms classic works for contemporary audiences.
Noveltease Theatre is a shared vision that emerges from a past history of collaboration between Artistic Directors Fosse Jack and Sailor St. Claire. They are the creators and producers of The Tennessee Tease, a full-length burlesque play based on the memoirs of Tennessee Williams. With Sailor’s direction, and scripting and choreography by Fosse, the show was performed both in 2015 and 2018 at Theatre Off Jackson, as well as at SEAF in a one-act format.
In addition, both have worked on related projects as individual creators and producers, and with other producing companies that share similar artistic DNA with the work that has become Noveltease. Fosse Jack has artistic directed and choreographed three short burlesque ballets through his production company, OtterPup Productions: Draculesque (based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Coppafeelia (based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Sandman), and A Metamodern Prometheus (adapted from the introduction to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). Sailor St. Claire has concepted and performed her own short-form literary acts that combine text and dance, based on sources as diverse as Frank Norris’s McTeague, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the entirety of Act V of Hamlet. With Evilyn Sin Claire, she co-wrote and co-directed Sinner Saint Burlesque’s much lauded burlesque adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2017 and 2018. She is also the producer and host of Accio Burlesque, a long-running burlesque tribute to Harry Potter performed in a variety format, loosely adapted from the Harry Potter novels and J.K. Rowling’s infamous Twitter account.
While working on A Metamodern Prometheus in Fall of 2018, Fosse and Sailor found themselves on the same page creatively, and decided to turn their shared love of literary burlesque into Noveltease Theatre.
Burlesque is both a literary genre and a theatrical genre. Traditionally, burlesque describes literature or drama with a satirical or parodic nature, mocking that which is considered dignified and treating that which is considered unrefined with dignity. It also describes striptease acts of the early to mid-20th century and today in which individual performers likewise combine elegance, humor, sex, and wit to entertain, intrigue, and tease the imagination. For a brief period of time in the late 19th century, these two genres collided on European and American stages in “literary burlesques.” Written and performed by all-female acting troupes, these parodies of classic literature and drama satirized the political climate of the day. These theatrical spectacles contained no striptease as we would recognize it today, but often incorporated scant costuming or mock-nudity to drive home the political messages.
Noveltease Theatre pays homage to literary burlesque of the late 19th century by combining theatrical adaptations of classic texts with contemporary striptease. Our intention is not to mock, but to productively muddle the “highbrow” art of literature with the “lowbrow” art of burlesque through embodied storytelling. Our theatrical productions revise and reimagine classic texts for a contemporary world, teasing the imagination with words and dance. Our interpretation of “literary burlesque” is informed and inspired by it’s very definition, which is encompassed by our company tagline: “Burlesque. By the Book.”