Cabaret From The Fringe

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Kicking Off again on the 20th of June is our cities very own Cabaret Festival, and if your tastes are more excited by new, undiscovered talent, by pass all that is taking place south of the Yarra and head straight to The Butterfly Club. This local beacon to everything cabaret, everything awesome and everything independent, will be serving up a smorgasboard of tasty treats to keep you out at night and sure to be entertained, TAGG spoke with Xander from the club ahead  of the upcoming season….

In essence, what makes this program within the broader  Melbourne Cabaret Festival- “fringe”, how do you define this term, and in are broader context, do you perhaps identify with other fringe festivals loosing focus on  supporting artists in favour of audience development and sponsorship deals.

Well that question escalated quickly. In terms of where our program sits in relation to the Cabaret Festival and what makes it ‘the Fringe’, I think is best displayed by looking at the two programs side by side. On one hand the Melbourne Cabaret Festival has performers like Queenie van de Zandt, Ginger & Tonic and Jon Jackson, all cabaret veterans (for lack of a better term), and all shows promising polish and to be pretty ‘safe’ (also for lack of a better term).
 
Then you look at the Cabaret Fringe program and you get a whole bunch of brand new faces, risk takers and artists that are still fleshing out their own cabaret identity, classic ‘diamond in the rough’ Fringy stuff.
 
Cabaret has been around for a very long time, through it’s constant evolution of presentation style, performance and concepts, has lead to the form in which it embodies today, aside from such longevity, why is  it still  so relevant and popular with today audiences?
 
I think you have answered the question for me – because cabaret is constantly evolving, cabaret has stayed relevant. Cabaret is often a commentary on the current social, political climate mixed in with personal reflections, so as the social and political landscape changes, it feeds the cabaret artists new material. There is also a stream of cabaret that is nostalgia, which is really just the same evolution just at a parallel point in history.
 
In Australia, it can be argued that cabaret has it strongest following in Melbourne, due to the work of people like Mathew Grant, Neville and David  and now Simone who have not only been custodians of the space but pioneers in developing audiences for Cabaret. But after 24 years, how exactly will this years festival be able “push the boundaries of the art form” ,and is it even possible to further define locally made work?
 
I think the constant evolution of cabaret is always going to allow artists to push the boundaries of the art form. If you look at what cabaret is in Adelaide or Brisbane, you will find very different versions of cabaret as to what we know here in Melbourne. I also believe that there are a few artists sneaking around that are ridiculously talented and are raising the bar here in Melbourne.
 
Lets move on, give us a quick run down of  each  of the shows whats a single thing from each of them that have intrigued you? Are there any works that directly respond to the current state of affairs both here and abroad, and also have central themes emerged between them?
 
Fully Made Up – There are very few people that I would trust to do a good improvised solo cabaret show. Jenny is one of those people.
 
Send Nudes – These guys are young, enthusiastic and curiously cynical.
 
Yada Yada Yada – I am not a huge fan of 90s pop nostalgia, but Lauren Edwards and Jude Perl are cooking up something good, it’s going to be 90s and I’m going to like it.
 
Finding Felix – Soon to be another new face to the Melbourne scene (he’s still studying at some music theatre school in Perth)
 
Adulting – Tash York is always happy to turn a mirror to herself for a laugh, and it’s always relatable and enjoyable.
 
Raising Ell! – Definitely one of the quirky ones, and a good example of someone doing their own thing and giving no fucks.
 
Tragedy! A New Comedy – It’s Greek theatre meets pop culture in a one woman cabaret tackling the age old trope, narcissism.
 
You mention in your press release that these works are to a degree “untested” is this exciting/daunting, or a way to spring board emerging artist while providing the resources needed to  create, is  this kind of generosity a shrinking commodity for local creatives and if so, why?
 
It definitely sits on the exciting side for me, I love that I can pick up the phone and speak to an artist that I’ve never seen or met before and say ‘we’re going to let you use our venue and if you don’t sell any tickets, you don’t owe us any money’. I wouldn’t go so far as to call us a ‘spring board’, maybe ‘cabaret hoarders’ instead?
 
Finishing on a brighter note, what do you love most about the festival and this program, and what do  you think audiences will most appreciate taking away post performance?
 
At this stage I think I love it’s intimacy and it’s infancy, I remember when the Melbourne Cabaret Festival was at a similar stage, when only the most discerning of audiences would actually know there was a festival on and this wasn’t just another week at the Club.
 
Any last words?
 
I guess I should encourage people to see some shows.