THE BARD, BAROQUE AND BEYOND
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The audience is being encouraged to "mask up" for the Cabaret of Broken Dreams' latest production on Saturday.
The Excelsior Hall in the Thirroul Community Centre will once again take on new life, this time with the richness of the Baroque period.
Titled The Bard, Baroque and Beyond, the cabaret written and directed by Bulli opera singer and songwriter Judy Stubbs is a tapestry of musical genres.
The Bard refers to one of the world's greatest-ever storytellers, Shakespeare, with Stubbs re-working eight of his poems, setting the words to a range of music, from the Baroque period through to more modern works and minimalist composers. Think Handel and Bach to Leonard Cohen, Icehouse, Crowded House and Artic Fire.
"It's a fusion of the traditional and contemporary," explains Stubbs.
"The audience will hear music in ways they have never heard before.
"There are some unusual arrangements.
"Normally, a cabaret like this would be seen in a concert hall but we're pleased to be in a position to show it in a much smaller setting."
Stubbs has received a Minister for the Arts cultural grant to develop and tour the production to Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide and then hopefully on to the Edinburgh Festival. It will then be renamed Shakespeare Fantasia and will include some stunning circus aerials from Circus Wow.
The Cabaret of Broken Dreams' first production (of the same name) was a huge hit last November and later went on to sell-out performances in Canberra. That cabaret was set in the Weimar period - a time of superficial glamour in Berlin in the early '30s just before the war.
For Saturday's performance, though, the setting is a masked ball in the Baroque period and the circus tricks will be contained to floor work due to space restrictions.
But Stubbs guarantees a theatrical production that encourages audience participation. Central to the storyline are the masks people wear and Stubbs hopes the audience will come supporting their own elaborate creations, as if they too are to take part in the masked ball.
"The theme of the cabaret explores the masks people wear.
"For example, do we ever truly reveal ourselves and, when we do, what happens?" says Stubbs.
"Even when we hide behind our masks, are we ever really hidden? Is love the ultimate mask?"
The cabaret is set in sumptuous surrounds, full of richness and colour, with 30 candelabra scattered throughout the hall.
The production includes a cast of 20, including Illawarra musicians from Ekektika and Funkier Than Alice and performers from Circus Wow.
It's Stubbs' last performance before heading to China later in the month to research and create a musical score for a documentary about the 1938 Dalfram Dispute.