Mata Hari   


'MATA HARI'

“I’ll know how to die.”
Mata Hari, courtesan/exotic dancer, was a notorious and intriguing figure, and the most famous femme fatale of her day. In 1917, she was imprisoned, accused of espionage during WWI. Awaiting death by French firing squad, she reflects on her life.  
“Mata Hari” means, in Malay, Eye of the Day: the sun. London-based cabaretist Aletia Upstairs investigates and illuminates how Dutch-born wife Margaretha Geertruida Zelle re-invented herself as Mata Hari: woman of mystery, the first exotic dancer of Europe, and a temptress who entertained men.  We see Mata Hari’s art of seduction, inspired by Indonesian temple dance, complete with veils and exotic headpieces and famous breastplates.


“I learned two things in Indonesia: the power of my beauty over men, and the power of a dance…with every veil I threw off, my success rose. Pretending to see my dances as very artistic…they came to see nudity.” She created a mythology around herself, and became the most desirable woman in Paris. Mata Hari was much admired by officers, for whom she had a particular passion. During World War I, she was accused of accepting German money to spy on the French.

“But I beg you to believe me, I never did a single act of espionage against France.” Recruited as a counter-spy in a trap to execute her, she was sentenced to death. She faced it bravely – standing upright, even wearing her corset. Mata Hari saw her death as her final performance.


“I am alone. I will defend myself, and if I must fail, it will be with a smile of profound contempt.” Proved posthumously (1985) to have been framed by the French, German and British intelligence, Mata Hari was possibly punished for her sensuous, licentious lifestyle.

Written by Aletia Upstairs, based on verbatim words taken from letters and interviews with the real Mata Hari, this cabaret is interspersed with songs and dance.  Aletia sings in English, French, Dutch and German. Selections include “My Death”, “25 Minutes To Go”, and Aletia’s own composition “Catch Me When I Fall”.

The eloquent and alluring Aletia Upstairs brings insight and seduction to her solo show about the ultimate femme fatale who paid the ultimate price.

Please email nsh@nsharts.org to reserve a place.  There is no charge, but donations are gratefully accepted.

Venue:  NSH Arts • 439 Mile End Road • London • E3 4PB     for more information go to Contact Us