Sunday, June 19, 2011

London bound

Great run in Montreal.  Fabulous to be back in the city after so many years.  Maybe it's time to go back for a longer trip!

We didn't get any mainstream press, but some reviews from the web on the show

"This is the best show I've seen so far. Crosses the line between touching and gut wrenching. The character is beautifully developed. Compelling performance that speaks to darker themes without losing it's sparkle. A must see for Brecht lovers or anyone with an interest in the political history of theatre.
A touching love song to a bygone era"



"A must-see! This show combines music, nostalgia, tragedy, comedy, and cross-dressing into a one-of-a-kind experience."


"Absolutely wonderful. (And I can be a hard sell on cabaret!) Loved the dark melancholy mood, and the political parallels arguing what it means to be an artist in uncertain times. HIGHLY recommended!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Going Dark

Driving North, heading up to Montreal Fringe Festival from the Orlando Fringe Festival. Spent today walking through the appropriately atmospheric streets of Savannah thinking about my new cabaret show.

My blurb for the show is

"Get out! Raus! Casse-toi! Vous ĂȘtes trop tard. Too late. The Cabaret is finished. Forever!" 

Trapped in the ruins of a Cabaret theatre, the Master of Ceremonies is trying to make his escape. First they censored him. Then they beat and dragged away his cast. Soon the theatre will vanish in flames. But tonight a final group of thrill-seekers has wandered in the open door, looking for a spectacle. Alone on stage, the MC must improvise one last show. So tonight he will play all the parts - singer, dancer, stagehand, showgirl, funnyman - and sing his heart out with some of the greatest songs ever written.

it's a dark little show.... very, very dark....  a stage full of corpses and some songs to sing....

And until 10 days ago I wasn't really sure that it added up to anything. I knew I wanted to work on this period and work on these songs.  And I believe that the songs gain a special strength and power when they are put in context of their time. I'd spent months researching, getting the costume together, the music.  I recruited my friends to help out.  Roxanna Bikadoroff did an amazing poster.

I traveled to Ottawa to work with Dave Dawson on the direction.... but it all just seemed like a strange idea that I had.

Now, after a series of shows in Orlando, it seems to actually be something.  The Orlando Sentinel called it 'A gem of a show... a cabaret of shadows', and said 'Duthie, with his shaved head, haunted face and gorgeously delicate baritone, is utterly arresting as the vanquished impresario of a ruined cabaret…Duthie’s singing is magical.'

After touring Whiskey Bars for years (a show which I'll be doing for the first time in Vancouver and Victoria this summer) I knew that songs can gain a special power if put in context of their time.  

And over those years I've become fascinated and also very frustrated by Cabaret.  Mostly because the word is almost meaningless now.... Cabaret once meant a very special performance space and style - a space where the performer was in close, almost uncomfortable intimacy with the audience, and a satirical, almost aggressive style that questioned both the morals of the day, and the motives of the audience.  Nowadays Cabaret can mean so many things - long-legged girls with pasties and feathers, faded old Broadway singers rehashing their lives beside pianos, a jumble of disconnected skits by eager young thespians, an evening of Rodgers and Hart.  All of which have their good and bad side, and none of which particularly interest me.

I wanted to do a concert of songs that would capture the rebellion and questioning and  unadulterated fear that permeated that period.  

I particularly wanted to do that right now because in the US and Canada there is a new repression making its way over the Arts.  It might not be the unashamed brutality of Hitler's rise to power in 1933, but it's a brutality of conservatism and rationalism, where the Arts are asked to justify themselves on whether or not they are 'profitable' and 'express community values'.  Since the only possible answer to these is a resounding 'no', then this justifies cutting and slashing and repressing.  In the US there is the stupidity and anger of the Tea Party, seeking to 'defund' any hint of artistic expression that doesn't match their conservative Christian values or that isn't based on a strict profit motive, and in Canada a new right wing in charge is seeking to personally green light only the arts funding which they personally approve. 

There's an infamous line about the pre-war period of anti-war art which goes something like 

'you can observe the incredible success and power of avant-garde theatre and cabaret from the way they stopped the rise of fascism in Germany'.  

That is, they failed, big time.  

but they left a precious legacy of rebellion...  so does that mean it was a mistake to try?

next shows in Montreal Fringe Festival,

Horaire / Schedule

  • 11 Jun @ 20.00
    12 Jun @ 15.15
    14 Jun @ 23.45
    16 Jun @ 20.00
    17 Jun @ 23.45
    18 Jun @ 17.00

then on to London, Ontario, and Regina, Saskatchewan