Cabaret Set To Dazzle Ballarat

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Cabaret Set To Dazzle Ballarat

Back for its fifth year, the Ballarat Cabaret Festival is Australia’s only regional Victorian festival dedicated to the art of cabaret with a weekend of exclusive performances and lavish theatre experiences to match. We chat to theatre manager Graeme Russell about the event, the performers and the cabaret experience.

This will be the Ballarat Cabaret Festival’s fifth year. How has it grown each year from the very first one?
The development of the Cabaret Festival is quite interesting. In the first year, we ran for six days over two weekends, with a three day period of no shows in the middle. In the intervening three years, the festival has been both longer and shorter, depending on the other activities around it, including the 2014 Festival which ran for eight days. One thing that has not changed is our commitment to the quality of the shows we are presenting.

What was the process of finding and choosing the acts like this year?
In previous years, our preferred model was a mix of direct contact and Artist Expressions of Interest. This year, as we made the decision to reduce the size and scope, all artists were selected for their excellence, uniqueness and audience appeal. For example, each time Michael Griffiths has appeared at the festival, we get numerous request for his return so we have brought Michael back with Amelia Ryan, presenting the world premiere of their new show.

A Cabaret Masterclass will take place on the Saturday. How do you think this will inspire and influence those who take part?
Michael and Amelia are two very successful and approachable artists, both of whom have a wealth of experience in creating cabaret work. Coming to Ballarat fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe they will be able to bring their combined experience of both the Australian and International Cabaret scene to inform and inspire those who attend the Masterclass. Hopefully some of the students from the Arts Academy who will have the chance to put what they learn into practice in the coming years.

For those who normally attend music gigs or cinema screenings, or straight dance showcases, how does the cabaret experience differ?
The cabaret experience is one of intimacy and connection between performer and audience. In the cinema, or a dance showcase in particular, the audience merely watches a work, applauds maybe and leaves. In a music gig, the audience may dance and sing along, but there is no or very little dialogue between patron and artist. With Cabaret, the artist is generally directly addressing the audience, drawing them into the world they have created on the stage, inviting them to be a part of the narrative. While not a requisite, participation from the audience is often a part of a Cabaret performance.

What do you love most of the art form?
I think mostly it’s the intimacy. Being close to the artist and involved in a form of relationship for the duration of the show is wonderful. But it’s also the breadth of subject matter and the inventive and ingenious use of a variety of music that gets me. The range of songs cabaret artists use is phenomenal!I challenge anyone to leave a cabaret show and not have enjoyed at least something about it!

Visit or call 5333 5888 for tickets and information.

When & Where: Ballarat Mining Exchange, Ballarat – October 7 – 9