If you think you've seen everything at the previous two Arts Festivals, think again!

Australia's queen of queer cabaret Sarah Ward (aka Yana Alana) is an audacious diva, best known for performing in little more than a wig, heels and blue body paint.

In a risqué act of defiance, she has decided it's time to cover up and she's bringing her fittingly-named show Covered to Hawke's Bay.

In keeping with the theme, Ward's alter ego Yana Alana will perform a series of covers from artists spanning Shirley Bassey to Joy Division. She is joined on stage by her all-female band, Tha Paranas, made up of percussionist Bec Matthews, pianist Louise Goh and bassist Tamara Murphy.

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Winner of a coveted Helpmann Award and 11 Green Room Awards, this brazen, bouffant diva is not be missed!

We asked Sarah Ward what to expect when Yana Alana takes to the stage for the New Zealand premiere of Covered at this year's Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival.


How did you become a cabaret artist?
I had a lot I wanted to say and I wanted the freedom of being able to write my own songs, create my own characters and tell my own stories. Also, I get to choose who I work with and make sure I employ mostly women.

Have you ever performed in a more mainstream setting?
The most mainstream I've done is corporate gigs and even then I don't compromise. If I was to be honest, I'm not cut out for auditioning.

How did you come up with your alter ego Yana Alana, and what is she like?
Yana was born in Melbourne's queer clubs and is a punk, cabaret performance artist who never apologises, even when she's wrong. She is a leader and an activist with a narcissistic personality disorder, so she's great from a distance.

Most of our audience won't be familiar with your work. How would you describe it to the uninitiated?
It's punk, it's queer, it's clowning, it's brilliant music, it's opera, it's rock, it's all women sticking their finger up to the patriarchy.

What has been the audience reaction to Covered?
That it's for everyone!

A review by Planet Arts in Melbourne says to "take your grandma to see this show". Will my grandma be shocked?
If your grandma lived through the 70s she will live through this!

You are backed by an all-female band, The Paranas. Is your backing band deliberately all-female?
No, I just choose the best!

Can you tell us some of the songs and/or artists you will be covering in your show?
No, you have to come and find out but it's every genre imaginable and from the 40s to the 00s.

Do you have any other plans for Yana?
She's going to Europe, releasing her first LP in vinyl, she's creating film clips and basically plans on taking her fat arse to the world.


Yana Alana Covered is proudly supported by NZME.

Yana Alana Covered
Tuesday, September 26, 8.30pm
Wednesday, September 27, 8.00pm

Book now at hbaf.co.nz or i-SITES Hastings, Havelock North and Napier.