Cabaret Festival Interview: Joel Allen and Ruby Chew – Talking About Cabaret Life Drawing

Ruby Chew is a SA Artistand the Art Instructor for “Cabaret Life Drawing”

The ‘Sip and Paint’ experiences have become hugely popular in recent years. The premise is simple: spend an hour or two with an art instructor who takes you through tips and tricks to create your own masterpiece whilst enjoying a glass of wine or two. These events are great for date nights, hens’ night, social gathering and family events. This year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival has its own sip and paint experience, but like all things cabaret, there will be a few unique twists.

Recently I caught up with Joel Allen, Adelaide Cabaret Festival Assistant Producer, and Ruby Chew, SA Artist and the art instructor for Cabaret Life Drawing.

 Each year, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival curates a brilliant lineup of shows and events. I asked Joel what the process was each year to finalise the selection of performances on offer.

“It usually starts with the Artistic Director and their vision of what they want their festival to be. We start with their vision statement for the festival, and from there go out and find the works and artists that tie into that theme. This year Tina Arena was very keen on exploring what we summarise as ‘places and spaces’. She has been very vocal about COVID and being trapped in isolation and how the festival can therefore be a vehicle to transport people to different times and places around the world. So that was really the carrier on how we put this year’s program together. I feel we have been successful in finding shows that transport people to a new place.” 

Cabaret Life Drawing is a brilliant twist on the ‘Sip and Paint’ events, combining an art class immersed into the world of cabaret with live music. I asked Joel how Cabaret Life Drawing came to be a part of the Cabaret Festival.

“When we were throwing ideas around and looking at how Tina Arena’s vision fits into a Cabaret Festival and I was looking at her Instagram, I noticed she was a partner with Dior and I started thinking about how fashion is always at the forefront of Tina. She’s always in beautiful gowns and always looks stunning. So, I started working out how I could get her love for fashion into a cabaret environment. From there we started to think about all the costumes that have been used in theatre over the years and then evolved to looking at these ‘paint and sip’events that people go to. So, what if there was an event where people could sit in a cabaret environment with these beautiful life models wearing gorgeous costumes from shows past and present and you can sit there and do some charcoal drawing over a wine, all whilst sitting in the beautiful Spiegeltent and it just turned into this event: Cabaret Life Drawing.”

Local Adelaide Artist, Ruby Chew, will be the art instructor for Cabaret Life Drawing.

“I am a visual artist and I studied at the Adelaide Central School of Art, and that’s the connection here, because Adelaide Cabaret Festival has a partnership with them. I also studied overseas in London. I have a practice here in Adelaide. I’m a painter mainly and a drawer, but also am a facilitator at Adelaide Central School and a few other places.”

Ruby was easily drawn to participate in Cabaret Life Drawing, and she assures me you don’t need to be the next Picasso to participate.

“I was drawn to this project because I really liked the idea of exploring cabaret through the lens of an artist. I think that’s what people will get – they can come and enjoy and experience cabaret, but in a different way.

“It’s going to be accessible for everyone. You don’t need to have any prior drawing experience. We are just wanting people to come, sit down and be immersed in the world of Cabaret and fashion, whilst picking up and learning some new drawing techniques. There will also be live music, which I think is such an important aspect of this as well in terms of connection to cabaret. I will take you all through a range of different drawing techniques, which will result in a mini portfolio of sketches focusing on fashion. It will be very immersive. All we ask is that people come and be open to having a go. I think people are going to be surprised with their results. Some of the drawing techniques I’ll be going through will be a bit more traditional, but some will be free and experimental. Everyone will get something from it.”

Cabaret Life Drawing will be held every weekend of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in The Famous Spiegeltent. Saturday 11, 18 and 25 June at 3pm and Sunday 12 & 19 June at 5pm.

Joel assures me that it will be an event that everyone will love.

“It will be one of those really great events. You can come on a date night, a hens’ party. It’s that sort of environment where you can come as a single, a couple, or a group, and everyone will have a great time.”

Tickets can be purchased through the Adelaide Cabaret Festival website. 

Interview by Ben Stefanoff

Photo Credit: Rosina Possingham

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