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February 15, 2024

Violence is not amore: the Fringe show encouraging women to speak up

The latest Fringe show from Carla's Confessional Cabaret has an important message about violence against women, so it was only natural that she's using her show to support Catherine House.

That's not amore
  • Words: Helen Karakulak
  • Graphic: Jayde Vandborg

 Carla Mattiazzo turned up to a speed-date with CityMag in a wedding dress.


That’s Not Amore
Multiple venues including The Gov, Dom Polski and the Migration Museum
February 17 – March 16


Well, sort of.

At a Fringe-organised event that connects media with artists, Carla made sure we’d remember her.

The get-up is one of the costumes she wears in her latest Fringe show, That’s Not Amore and an ode to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.

The show explores the expectations of women in relationships, the way they’re promoted within Italian culture and the contradictions that come from that.

“Even though we are very loud and expressive, we do not have the power or the voice we should have,” Carla says.

“The contradiction is once you’re married, especially when you’re a mum, you’re expected to be like the virgin and totally desexualised.”

In addition to the white bodysuit and bridal skirt, she has another red costume she wears in the show to visually demonstrate the conscious contradictions of wanting a woman to be both sexy and pure.

As is the nature of all Carla’s shows under her production company, Carla’s Confessional Cabaret, That’s Not Amore draws from her own experiences.

Despite her show including the stories of two engagements that didn’t make it up the aisle, Carla isn’t rejecting the idea of marriage.

“I say in the show, I’ve always wanted to be a wife and a mum, part of a loving family, but I have always been very specific in that is not where my value lies,” she says.

“Unlike my Nonna telling me that that’s only where my value lies, I’ve always pushed back at that narrative that value only comes from being married and having children.”

That’s Not Amore pushes back on expectations and distinguishes between what is and isn’t love.

Carla started writing this show in December 2022 and the first scene she wrote was one that addresses violence against women, and the rate at which it’s happening in Australia. 

The most recent Australian Bureau of Statics figures show that in 2023, the number of sexual assaults increased by two per cent from 2022, with 1816 victims. 

According to the 2021-22 ABS Personal Safety Survey, Australia-wide figures show the majority (92% or 680,300) of women who experienced sexual assault by a male did not report the most recent incident to police.

Carla says writing it was cathartic. Though she had moved past incidents in her own life that she realised were not love, she feels the culture of silence is still too strong. 

“The way I perform it really emphasises the fact of how much victims are silenced in our society, and how often when they speak out, speaking out is often used against them,” she says. 

“I felt that the silencing theme was so important and not focussed on.”

Carla describes the show as a “rollercoaster” as she balances humour and depth, bringing the audience a darker theme to think about for a few moments before pulling them out into something funny. 

“I ease them into that Trojan horse scene as I like to call it, and then I very sharply change the mood because I want the message to be there, but I don’t want the audience to leave going, ‘oh my god that was so heavy’. 

“I want the message to be there but then also make people feel good so on the way out they go, “oh I liked this and this, this, this, and Carla brought this up and you know that’s really important’.” 

Carla is supporting Catherine House through her show by donating a portion of ticket sales and making her Saturday shows a collection point for audiences to donate essential items. 

Catherine House is the only homelessness service for women unaccompanied by children in South Australia, offering crisis accommodation, mental health programs and outreach support for women experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

It’s important to Carla to support an organisation relevant to the message of her shows, and Catherine House is one that she believes does crucial work. The themes of her show address domestic and sexual violence, which can lead to homelessness among women. 

“Say, my dad dies, and I’m in a violent relationship. If I leave, I’m homeless. It is easy and quick for women to end up in that position,” Carla says. 

Carla says her show is “for Italians, by Italians and anyone who loves a plate of pasta” and her message is for everybody. 

“Even though [the show] is to uplift and empower women, it’s really to bring awareness and make everybody come along because there’s not enough discussion… we’re not talking enough about how many women get killed.”

That’s Not Amore is playing at multiple venues from February 17 to March 16, tickets are available via the Fringe website.  

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