Cabaret Culture

You find yourself in a dark, smokey bar, sat at a low, lamp lit table, an absinthe spiked cocktail in one hand, cigar in the other. A jazz band begins to play, the curtain rises and a figure lit by a single spotlight enveloped in sequins and feathers begins to croon. At least, that’s the familiar image that may be conjured by the scintillating word: Cabaret. Or perhaps you see Joel Gray and Liza Minelli telling their audience ‘Money makes the world go around’ amidst the backdrop of Weimar Germany, or Gypsy Rose, the singular star who popularised the art of burlesque, titillating her audiences with feather boas and flesh. The multi coloured world of cabaret is a vast spectrum of performance, incorporating visual arts, comedy, music, dance, strip tease, the list is seemingly endless. As drag and cabaret art forms increasingly find their way into popular culture, we take a look at where cabaret began, the varied approaches to creating and presenting cabaret shows and signature performance styles of cabaret artists from the early 20th century to the present day.

In this talk we delve into a world where the outlandish is ordinary and the ordinary seems outlandish, of clowns and comics, dancers and dreamers, of performance just below street level or in a tucked away attic up many flights of seemingly endless stairs. Join us as we discuss who what where when how and why is Cabaret.

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Jordana Belaiche is a writer, director and dramaturg based in London. Her work centres on class and gender, she has a love of folklore, witchcraft and the occult and is well versed in all things uncanny. She is the author of two full length plays and several short stories.

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