Ottawa: Office-themed burlesque show debuts

OTTAWA — Imagine a unique performance that merges the satirical mastery from the movie Office Space with the risqué scenes in Moulin Rouge.

An office-themed burlesque show called Bureaucratease would be the result, and it’s coming to Ottawa in April thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Ottawa chapter of the Awesome Foundation.

The federal government employee who co-founded a T-shirt company to show that bureaucrats aren't humourless is one of Bureaucratease’s producers.

Nick Charney said he hopes the 90-minute show will dispel what he calls “snoozer office culture” with dancing bureaucrats, comedy, jugglers tossing around office supplies and scantily-clad burlesque performers.

“Your everyday office meets the burlesque theme in the heart of downtown Ottawa,” Charney said.

The show will explore the frustration that comes with “red tape” in the bureaucratic world and the difficulties with office hierarchy.

The colourful show will also depict conversations around the water cooler. But instead of water, it’s full of Kool-Aid.

Charney said the producers will meet with performers to determine exactly how they can blend burlesque and office work into an amusing performance.

“What we would love you to do is really make fun of hierarchical management systems, paper-pushing, or trying to get something approved a million times, or the 11th draft of an email,” Charney said.

Pair that with the costumes Charney envisions: a hybrid of office worker and burlesque dancer.

One promotional picture taken to pitch the idea showed a seated woman in a white dress shirt, her blue fishnet stockings and patent leather shoes peaking out from underneath a boardroom table. The finishing touch is the woman’s brightly coloured locks framing her face.

A racier photo showed a woman lying across a boardroom table wearing only her undergarments, purple stockings and bright pink shoes.

“We put both of those elements right on the table for everyone to see,” Charney said.

The idea for the show came from one of Charney’s friends, who took the idea of his T-shirt company a step further. Charney thought the idea was brilliant — he actually knows office workers who are burlesque dancers in their spare time.

Charney pulled a team together to refine the idea to pitch it to the Awesome Ottawa chapter.

At each chapter, 10 or so trustees each contribute $100 a month, and review applications received online.

Charney and his team were awarded October’s $1,000 grant to help launch a show they hope will attract 500 people.

“We want it to be one of the biggest shows the city has ever seen,” Charney said. “Yes it’s ambitious, but it’s completely achievable.”

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