20 Oct 2015

'She's wild! She's wacky! She is KooKoo the Birdgirl!'

From Nine To Noon, 11:24 am on 20 October 2015

Sarah Houbolt is bringing the early 20th-century freak show performer,  'KooKoo the Bird Girl', aka Minnie Woolsey,  back to life in a gutsy one-woman movement theatre performance.

As the story goes Kookoo, was born in Georgia, USA in 1880 with Virchow-Seckel syndrome,  a rare skeletal growth disorder . She was also bald and toothless. She spent years in an asylum until she was rescued by a showman, keen to cash in on her unusual looks. But KooKoo the Birdgirl had an extraordinary life and even featured in Tod Browning's film 'Freaks' (1932), which was banned for 30 years for being too controversial.

Sarah Houbolt, herself, was born with Hallerman Streiff Syndrome and lives with partial sight, so is able to bring KooKoo to the stage in a deeply engaging and heartfelt way. By embracing the origins of her art form she manages to unearth the life of a mysterious woman with an incredible human story, while reclaiming what it means to be a 'freak show' performer and brings the ultimate, quirky, story to a contemporary Auckland audience.  

Sarah Houbolt talks to Kathryn Ryan

KooKoo the Birdgirl plays: InterACT Disability Arts Festival 21st - 23rd  October  & a full length show  11- 13 November 2015 TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs.