NIDA students inspired by Weimar Kabarett
After three intense weeks, NIDA's Vocational Diploma and Master of Fine Arts (Directing) students produced a stunning performance of music and songs inspired by German Kabarett.
Photo: Students from the Diploma of Musical Theatre (top), Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Make-Up Services) (middle) and Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services (bottom) created the production. (Photo: Patrick Boland)
In June, NIDA students produced Weimer Kabarett, music and songs inspired by German Kabarett. The production was a collaboration over three weeks, resulting in a stunning performance which brought together students from the Master of Fine Arts (Directing), Diploma of Musical Theatre, Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services and Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Make-Up Services).
‘Cabaret is an exciting form of entertainment that is both performer-centric and where the audience can interact and respond, which is exciting because you can’t anticipate what will happen,’ said MFA Directing student Tait de Lorenzo. ‘We strived to create a show that was authentic and capitalised on the dramatic power of live performance.’
The production was curated by NIDA’s Academic Manager, Associate Lecturer Benjamin Schostakowski with guest director Jim Sharman, singing tutor Anne-Maree McDonald, and acting tutors, Philip Quast and Garth Holcombe.
‘The concept of Weimar Kabarett is satirical and provocative, so I aimed to embody those ideals,’ said Diploma of Musical Theatre student Emily Ritchie. ‘I had the challenging opportunity of playing an evil doctor and a lesbian nun, both of which are very far removed from my own lived experience! It was fun to be pushed out of my comfort zone and portray characters so different from myself. I also used a German technique called Sprechgesang (spoken singing) which Jim Sharman taught us was commonly used in the Weimar period.’
‘Our singing skills were utilised throughout the whole show as we told each story through song,’ said Diploma of Musical Theatre student Alexandra Duncan, who invited her Australian actress and aunt, NIDA alumni Carmen Duncan (Acting, 1961) to the show. ‘Carmen loved the style of Weimar and thought the atmosphere we created in the Luminis Studio was really appropriate,’ said Alexandra. ‘Her favourite act was “Mack the Knife”. Not only does she love that song – she loves what we did with it!’
Alexandra said the highest point for her was creating her character for “The Scum of the Earth”. ‘I strove to embody an activist for those mistreated and discriminated against in Germany just prior to World War II. I enjoyed researching that time period and the people who were living in desperate situations.’
Photo: Diploma of Musical Theatre student Emily Ritchie. (Photo: Patrick Boland)
Photo: Master of Fine Arts (Directing) students Ellen Wiltshire (left) and Tait de Lorenzo. (Photo: Patrick Boland)
Tait and Ellen said their research looked at how to adapt the show to suit a contemporary audience in the current political climate. ‘We embedded the process with historical and dramaturgical analysis and created links to a cultural desire for cabaret today,’ said Tait.
‘It has been an opportunity to explore conventions of performance that we found weren't embedded in our practice, especially within the Australian context,’ said Ellen. ‘For some of us, stepping outside of our comfort zones, while challenging, has provided an opportunity to play with a theatrical tone that combines satire, naughtiness and song. Making parallels to conventions we saw in theatre on our trip to Berlin let us synthesize what we had learnt and witnessed overseas. Importantly, working with the actors from the Musical Theatre cohort and creating a shared language to navigate our rehearsals has left us with skills (and relationships) we'll continue to nurture on future projects.’
Applications are now open for all NIDA courses including Master of Fine Arts (Directing) and Vocational Diploma courses for 2019. Details and information on how to apply here.