Michaela Burger: 'It is so important to tell this story as it is one of courage, defying adversity and rising above judgement'
- Arusa Qureshi
- 17 August 2019
Multi-talented star of Exposing Edith presents her latest cabaret which explores her family history
'I have been wanting to write a show about my father – the son of Greek migrants – and his life since I was a young cabaret artist,' says Greek-Australian performer and songwriter Michaela Burger. 'My dad has lived such a unique life and the stories that he told us growing up often sounded made up, because they were so outrageous. As I got older, I realised that they were not only true but that they defined quite an extraordinary human.'
In A Migrant's Son, Burger sets out to explore her family's history, traversing generations of migrant experience and detailing the tragedy and triumph of her ancestors along the way.
'When I began to write the story and the songs, I realised that all of the qualities that I admire in my father had actually come from generations of ancestors before him. So I needed to start the story at the beginning, with the migration of my great grandparents and then my grandparents. I started to explore life as a migrant and found that what they must have experienced in 1924 – when there were only 30 Greeks in Adelaide [the city where this story is set] – is not dissimilar to what migrant's of today face all around the world.'
The multi-award winning cabaret star will be presenting A Migrant's Son to Edinburgh Fringe audiences for the first time, having already had success in Australia with the autobiographical show. With wonderful songs and unique characters that underpin the story, it's a production that resonates across the board thanks largely to its focus on struggle and survival.
'The significance of this story became apparent to me when I previewed the show and began to feel people's reactions to a story that is not just the story of my family, but that is one of millions of people. It is SO important to tell this story as it is one of courage, defying adversity and rising above judgement and racism in a positive and peaceful way – something that this world definitely needs to be reminded of.'
As the co-writer and star of hit show Exposing Edith, Burger recognises that both stories, while touching in their own ways, are entirely different. 'With Exposing Edith we hope that people are touched by [Edith Piaf's] story and that they feel closer to Edith than they did before walking into the show. We always hope that her music touches their hearts – as she managed to touch so many in her lifetime – and that they reflect on their own passions and triumphs in life.
'With A Migrant's Son,' she continues, 'I hope that people are reminded of their own power to defy adversity and rise above. I hope that people are moved by the songs in a way that they understand the characters with a greater depth so that they can empathise or relate to the characters and what they go through, in order to develop a greater tolerance for anyone who is ever starting something new in life.'
Exposing Edith, Assembly George Square, until 26 Aug (not 19), 2.20pm, £12–£14 (£11–£13).
A Migrant's Son, Imagination Workshop, until 26 Aug (not 19), 5.30pm, £30–£45 (£30–£40).