In Review; the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2015
Craig Fossey | On 17, Aug 2015
What good is sitting alone in your room? This year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival was a tantalising mix of contemporary and traditional performances, bringing audiences out of their comfort zones – read our recap here.
Running annually since 2001, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is now a major fixture on the Australian Arts Calendar and its international reputation is growing year by year, helped along by a fresh, ambitious festival program and the friendly and clued-in Adelaide festival audiences.
On reviewing the program, this yearâ€™s festival had an extremely broad offering of material, ranging from Peter & Jack – a tribute to baritone Peter Dawson and songwriter Jack Oâ€™Hagan, to burlesque veteran Meow Meow accompanied by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. There were high profile TV comedians like Adam Hills, Hannah Gadsby and Alan Brough, Tex Perkins (of Cruel Sea fame) performed with the Dark Horses, alongside song cycle performances; â€˜Painted from Memoryâ€™ (Bacharach and Costello) and Eddie Perfect (performing his original â€˜Songs from the Middleâ€™).
Ali McGregor and her opera buddies Antoinette Halloran and Dimity Shepherd brought the internationally acclaimed Opera Burlesque to Adelaide. There was also a Cabaret version of Wagnerâ€™s Opera, Tristan and Isolde along with the return performance by local tenor Daniel Koek, who has been playing Jean Valjean in Londonâ€™s current season of Les Miserables- and all these examples before any mention of traditional cabaret shows.
The festival boasted the additional local bonus of a rich food, wine and produce scene which is also growing at an alarming rate. It was quite apparent that recent changes in local liquor licensing legislation have given Adelaide a new face of little wine bars, tapas bars and boutique restaurants. If only The Creative Issue could have had me in Adelaide for more than three days!
Looking at the festival’s program in hindsight, I wish I had taken more notice when we first received our invitation to attend this yearâ€™s festival. At a time when mainstream performing arts institutions are hesitant to push too much contemporary curation, itâ€™s exciting to see a two-week program of work that allows for a healthy balance of audience accessibility and artistic merit. Itâ€™s almost like I do not want to shout this too loudly, but it appears to me that a â€˜cabaretâ€™ performance is something that cannot be solely defined as orchestral music, opera or musical theatre, so as an audience weâ€™re more willing to be taken on an open-ended adventure. And, dare I say it, but because of this, the powers that be are more willing to give artistic directors scope to go outside of traditional comfort zones.
Fingers crossed for those of us craving access to contemporary and diverse artistic work, that this attitude to programming and curation continues. Personally I love the â€˜fringeâ€™ but it is also refreshing to see contemporary work be received excitedly by larger audiences. If â€˜Cabaretâ€™ be the vehicle, then I am thrilled that there is an avenue for artists to receive broad acclaim and remuneration for work that is not popular just because it is familiar to its audiences.
So, as Barry Humphries passes the artistic direction baton to Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect for 2016, we should expect a further evolution of curation style and vision in one yearâ€™s time. When we spoke with Ali McGregor on the final morning of this yearâ€™s festival, and asked about how she and (Eddie) Perfect would approach the programming of 2016, McGregor responded by saying, â€œEddie’s got a real passion for new music and new writing and has created some interesting collaborations between writers, whilst I have this solid basis of what I like to call the cabariety; that real kind of people around the world who are just doing fantastic things with cabaret.â€
So for music and performing arts lovers, we can only suggest that you keep your ears close to the ground and make sure you book tickets as soon as they are available for the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.Â To keep abreast of news for the 2016 Cabaret Festival (or any other upcoming cultural event in Adelaide) stay in touch with the Adelaide Festival Centre or get on Twitter: @AdelaideFesCent, @AdelaideCabaret, @BrandSouthAust.
Image credits: Adelaide Festival Centre, Claudio Raschella