UniSA’s unique cabaret course provides students with performance opportunity to revel in the community aspect of cabaret (Image source: Alycia Millar).

By Alycia Millar | @AlyciaMillar

The evening of Sunday June 20 saw the University of South Australia (UniSA) cabaret students take to the stage at Diverse-City to deliver a range of performances and inspire community engagement.

The course delivered its practical component in a slightly different manner than previous years, as its piano bar performance usually affiliated with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival did not go ahead.

The showcase was performed through the Cabaret Fringe Festival, one of the only fringe festivals of its kind in the world.

The UniSA course Cabaret: Context and Practice provides students with an opportunity to explore the art of cabaret, by focusing on building a connection with the audience and bouncing off of their responses.

The performances were varied, from comedic satires to inspiring original pieces.

Audience engagement was a key element the performances had in common, as the audience was encouraged to sing along, respond to questions posed and shout in reply.

Course coordinator and experienced performer Catherine Campbell said UniSA’s cabaret course is nationally unique.

“You can do a cabaret unit but only in those auditioned courses … what we tried to do was something that catered for everybody, from people who are just interested in it right through to people who were looking to establish a performance career,” Catherine said.

The course is also unique within South Australia, as it is the only majorly practical course that does not require auditioning.

Catherine explained how cabaret has continued resurgence to inspire feelings of community, which really took off in Adelaide 20 years ago when the Cabaret Festival started.

“[The Adelaide Cabaret Festival] was all under one roof, so you could go and see a couple of shows then go to the bar and people would get up and sing and it was a really great community,” Catherine said.

“You sit at tables and talk to other people you don’t know and there’s a really different style of performing which includes the audience. I think that’s something people enjoy being a part of.”

The way cabaret differs from other performing styles is through its storytelling and audience inclusivity.

“You’re actually talking to the audience, and you’re actually asking the audience to talk back to you. You’re hearing and seeing everything and that’s informing your performance,” Catherine said.

“Just as you put your finger on what it is, it slides away. There’s a real freedom in it. You can really create anything as long as you’re talking with an audience not just at them.”

The course is delivered by a team of highly experienced cabaret performers, which allows students to learn from their years of expertise.

“It’s great when you’ve got a course that you really just love, and I see the benefits to them as performers,” Catherine said.