Theatre is one of the world’s most important forms of expression and entertainment. And one of the oldest, too. Originating in 6th Century B.C, theatre made its roots in Ancient Greece and has since remained a keystone in societal entertainment. Theatre in itself takes many forms. From tragedies to pantomimes, romantic comedies to satires, each style examines a different side of the human condition. In other words, the face of theatre is ever-changing. And how could we talk about the changing face of theatre without exploring its most multidimensional form? That’s right - we’re talking about the art of cabaret.
For those who don’t know, cabarets are interactive theatrical experiences that comprise music, dance and comedy. Fun fact: the first recorded cabaret “Le Chat Noir” took place in Paris’ bohemian neighbourhood Montmartre way back in 1881! Another fun fact: by the year 1900, Parisians had produced more than 150 cabarets, including the world-famous Le Moulin Rouge. Since the late 19th century, cabarets have grown in popularity and spread to all 4 corners of this wonderful world. But enough about Paris. Today, London is the epicentre for all things cabaret. “Why is this?” you ask. Because London is where the Proud Group is. If you’re a cabaret enthusiast, you’d know that Proud Group is the mackdaddy of cabaret clubs. And if you’re a cabaret novice, we’re here to show you what cabarets are, how they’re structured, and why Proud Group does cabaret in a way no one else can.
The History Of Cabaret
Like we touched on before, cabaret started in late 19th century Paris. Despite being originally created for the upper classes’ enjoyment, cabaret spread to the working class and quickly became accessible to all (now that’s what we like to hear). In the 1920’s and 1930’s when Berlin, New York and London started throwing cabarets, the art form skyrocketed in popularity. This period is widely coined by theatre historians as “The Golden Age” of cabaret. But as far as we’re concerned, we’d say cabaret’s golden age started when Proud Group opened its first venue in Camden. In other words, we’re witnessing “The Golden Age” of cabaret right now. But this is not a history lesson, after all. So sit back, relax, and let us at Proud guide you on how a cabaret is structured.
First off, let’s determine how cabarets differ from your average play. Whilst plays typically follow a strict plotline and contextualise important societal issues, cabarets offer show-goers a break from the real world with a variety of singing, dancing and comedy acts. In short, it's designed to transport you out of your head and into the moment. And whilst plays have been held in grand spaces, cabarets started out in smaller, intimate venues like bars and restaurants. Although this is not necessarily the case today, we at Proud pay homage to cabaret’s intimate beginnings with our flagship venue in Embankment. With mood lighting, plush seating booths and charming interior design, when it comes to cabaret - we know just what to do to set the scene. Now, back to the topic at hand - how is a cabaret structured?
We’d be silly not to give you a step-by-step of how we do it at Proud. One springs to mind: our Christmas Cabaret at our Embankment venue, which is composed of 3 acts. Our whimsical host starts with a mash-up medley of your favourite Christmas tracks, followed by a short introduction on what the show will entail. We open the show with a performance from leading burlesque artiste Channelle Du Mai, who in her truthfulness to the art form, leaves next to nothing for the imagination. We hold nothing back - but start as you mean to go on, they say! Before you’ve had time to pick your jaw up off the floor, you’re watching the Seifert Sisters aerial hoop around like there’s no tomorrow. Act I closes with a tear-jerking tango version of Noughties hit “Cry Me A River” and some mesmerising performances involving magic and fire theatrics. Now that’s something you won’t see everyday!
Keeping that high energy, Act II commences with a dance performance from world-famous showgirl, J'adore La Vie, and another burlesque performance from Chanelle Du Mai. While you’re trying (and failing) to take your eyes off our saucy dancers, Shade & Lydia storm the stage with feisty fire theatrics. And before you know it you’re thinking: “How do they do that?!”. A cabaret wouldn’t be a cabaret without paying homage to pop culture. Our impeccable dancers honour the 2000’s hit film Mean Girls with a hilarious take on the movie’s iconic Jingle Bell Rock dance. See - we’re not messing when we say a good cabaret is variety. After a short break, we welcome in Act III with a silk performance from the wildly talented DUO Fashion. The pair slip, slide and glide along those silks in a way that makes it look easy. We treat the audience with other performances from J'adore La Vie and a raunchy pole performance from the Seifert Sisters and pole artist Emily Winters. Talk about a treat for the eyes! Proud concludes the show in the true cabaret style: with a sing, a dance and a chance for the audience to boogie with the cast on stage. Talk about variety!
Thanks to us, you should be clued in as to what a cabaret is and how cabarets are structured. But let’s do a little recap just in case. A cabaret is a form of interactive theatrical entertainment that has spanned centuries and cities. Although it has evolved over time, the show’s core elements of dance, drama, music and comedy remain at the forefront of a modern cabaret show. It’s clear to see that variety is what sets cabarets apart from other styles of theatre. No matter the theme, a cabaret show is sure to provide a unique and entertaining experience. And when it concerns cabaret, no one puts on a show like Proud does.