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Student Blog: Making A Cabaret (Not The Musical)

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7 weeks to put together a cabaret show from scratch, how did we do it?

Student Blog: Making A Cabaret (Not The Musical)

We made a cabaret! No, not the musical, but the performance style of cabaret. If you are wondering what a cabaret is, according to Wikipedia, Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. The performance venue might be a pub, a casino, a hotel, a restaurant, or a nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining or drinking, does not typically dance but usually sits at tables. Think Feinstein's/54 Below.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Singapore, we were still not allowed to perform in pubs, which have normally been the venue for the past years before the pandemic. Therefore our performance was set in a Blackbox within a small performance area of 3 by 3 meters. In groups of 3, we had to come out with a script, 2 original songs, and a selection of songs to cover. It can be about anything and we can talk about things that resonate with us.

Working with 2 of my classmates, Marcus and Marissa, we sat down on our first meeting to share what we like and what we don't want to showcase. From there, we narrowed down 2 things that we enjoyed, crime and TV/Films. During our second meeting, we had a change of directions, I was inspired by a painting that I came across, so I shared with my teammates about possibly doing something related to fine arts. And that became our main inspiration for our cabaret, to set it in a museum and we become paintings. In that second meeting, we got the whole storyline in and we also chose some paintings to be part of the show. We managed to churn out the script within 2 days and selected our songs to be featured in the cabaret. So what's the story about?

Student Blog: Making A Cabaret (Not The Musical)

It's about 3 paintings in a museum, Frida Kahlo Self Portrait by Frida Kahlo (Frida played by me), Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh (Sunny played by Marcus), and Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (Pearly played by Marissa). There was a rumour that was going around that Mona Lisa was stolen (Rumour Has It by Adele). The 3 paintings are scared of the possibility of getting stolen themself, arguing who is more valuable (it's not u it's me by Bea Miller & 6LACK). So they decided to travel to other paintings to seek refuge (Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros).

They go to A Sunday Afternoon on an Island of La Grande Jete by Georges Seurat and Frida was not comfortable because she's the only brown person there (Brown Skin Girl by Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, WizKid). They then leave to find another painting and come across a dot. Sunny expresses it as 'minimalism' and they transform into a satyrical scene where everything is art (Everything is Art, Original Composition) with commentary on drama classes where actors have to embody a dot. They snap out of it and realize that the dot is actually just a stain.

They proceed to Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh where Sunny expressed that he can't survive in the painting without the sun (If I Die Young by The Band Perry). So they leave and go to Liberty Leading The People by Eugene Delacroix where Pearly is uncomfortable with the violence (Breathin by Ariana Grande). Finally, they go back to their frames, realizing that they might lose each other (In Case You Don't Live Forever by Ben Platt). Sunny thinks of creating a bigger frame when they are squeezing in each other's frame during a group hug. So they got to work and make a bigger frame that they can stay together (Together, Original Composition), only to find out that the robber is heading their way in the end.

Student Blog: Making A Cabaret (Not The Musical)

Our 2 new compositions took the longest to complete. We had to come up with our own melody and chords to match it. Luckily, we only had to come up with a lead sheet, and the arrangement was done by our music director, Valerie. Listening to the songs coming together with the live band was an amazing experience. It was our first time performing with a live band and I can never get enough of it.

The rest of the time, we had to do the staging of our performance. We didn't have much choreography because it didn't fit the concept but we had a lot of gestural movements. The hardest part was creating the frames and to figure out the mechanics of combining the frames together and we managed it by using the hook-and-loop fasteners (a.k.a. velcro) to remove one side of the frame and combine two frames together.

Overall, it was an amazing experience to be able to see our creation come to life, and the fact that it was my first time performing using handheld microphones, was a learning journey that I will forever apply. We ended up having some audience members from the faculty, which was fun and it was also recorded professionally. I hope to get the footage soon so that I can share them with my friends and family.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Zac Denver Lee