Take four globally experienced performers reputed individually for their talents in cabaret, burlesque, comedy, live music and puppetry; bend the conventions that apply to each of these art forms; and place them in the intimate, moody setting of La Bohème. The result is Saturday Night Soirée and we’re told it’ll be “cabaret like you’ve never seen before.”
The show features the seductive burlesque dance of Sapphire Snow, recognised for her tantalising cheek and talent. As the music master, bringing experience from the UK, the US and Australia, Matthew Carey is the co-creator with his long-time collaborator, Sidonie Henbest. Her dynamic and powerful voice can be smooth as velvet or edgier than Janis Joplin, all within the same performance. Then there’s the chameleon-like talents of actor / dancer / puppeteer / acrobat / producer / director Ninian Donald, whose artistic experiences across the globe are as diverse as his range of talents.
If you think this combination of performers sounds unconventional, then you’ll understand that pushing boundaries and challenging conventions is what Saturday Night Soirée is all about.
“One of our mantras is that this is the new cabaret and the old rules no longer apply,” explains Carey.
“The way cabaret works typically is that you will see one performer on the stage. What we are doing here is really working as an ensemble. We interact with each other during the numbers and we are providing different layers of the same thing,” Henbest elaborates. “Sometimes we might be on stage together, but we are not necessarily in the same world on the stage.”
The Saturday Night Soirée production aims to be uniquely beautiful and different. “What we have tried to do is find things about performance convention and what audiences have really liked… It’s about finding those things that work. Our main rule has been to examine any convention that is present and asking, is this legit?” says Henbest. The show is a “smooshing of colours to create new colours”.
Further challenging the cabaret model is a sequence of pieces and the overall structure of the show. Carey explains, “we might have a couple of acts that will become recurring, but the show as a whole, will keep evolving because we are constantly challenging ourselves to do new things”.
This challenge comes not only from the perspectives each performer brings to the group, but also cultural and artistic influences occurring outside the performance space. Their Saturday night show will be different to anything you’ll experience by the same cast during the Fringe season.
“It is extremely important that as artists, we don’t exist in a bubble. Otherwise, what we reflect on and what we comment on in our shows is really insular. We need to be a part of the real world that we are commenting on,” explains Henbest.
Also challenging the conventions of performance space, the Saturday Night Soirée team will be “opening up the space” on offer in La Bohème, utilising doorways and windows and interacting with the audience. However, this invasion of space should not be misconstrued by potential audience-goers as an invasion of privacy.
“We love our audience and we want to keep them, not frighten them. It’s an experimental and dynamic environment, but it is still a safe environment,” Henbest says.
Featuring an eclectic blend of songs on the spectrum of Frank Sinatra to Celine Dion and Tom Waits, this is a musical landscape of pieces through which meaningful stories will be told. Cabaret is, after all, about story telling.
Interview by Bree Downs-Woolley
Saturday Night Soirée
When: 14 December, 31 December (New Year’s Eve show), 11 January
Adelaide Fringe season: 15 & 22 February, 1, 8 & 15 March at 10.30pm
Where: La Bohème, 36 Grote Street, Adelaide SA
Tickets: Adults: $40 / Concession: $33 & Special New Year’s Eve Packages available
Bookings: Book tickets online at the La Boheme website or visit www.adelaidefringe.com.au to buy tickets for Adelaide Fringe season shows.
All shows are 18+ events. Shows are 90 minutes long (with interval) except the New Year’s Eve show: 9pm – midnight (with intervals)