Open Forum

 View Only
  • 1.  Cabaret

    Posted 01-18-2020 18:39
    I know a lot of you have done Chicago, especially now that the High School Edition is out there, but have any of you high schools done Cabaret? I'm at an Arts Magnet School in a pretty progressive area so I actually don't think the abortion reference or the same sex kiss is likely to be an issue, but the costuming and choreography has come under a lot of concern and I'm trying to figure out how to relieve some fears. The fear is that the show "sexualizes" it's teenage female performers. While we will be replicating some of the more classic Fosse choreography (we have a strong dance program - another reason to do the show), we will obviously be toning it down on all the bumping and grinding. Furthermore it is my intention to make sure all the dancers stay fully covered. I agree the argument can be made that the material sexualized the chorus to some extent, but that can be said for a lot of musicals (Jekyll and Hyde, Guys and Dolls, Sweet Charity, Edwin Drood and, of course, Chicago - even the High School Edition.)

    I feel like Cabaret has an important message about the dangers of apathy and self absorption in times if great political unrest. It's a cautionary tale about how life isn't just a "Cabaret, old chum" and that just because "in here, life is beautiful" doesn't mean we can ignore what's going on out there. All fascism needs to take hold is for people to stop paying attention. It's also, in my opinion, Kander and Eb's best score and one of the greatest dance musicals in American theater. 

    My Principal has my back on this, although I adore her and don't want to get her in any hot water. Any ideas how I can curb any potential tides? 

  • 2.  RE: Cabaret

    Posted 01-19-2020 08:42
    Edited by Victoria (Tori) Kesling Councill 01-19-2020 09:05
    I did Cabaret many years ago and truly enjoyed doing it. There is more than one script version available so you can pick whichever version is best suited to you. You can also request to cut songs etc. We also dealt with the question of sexualizing the girls. I will say that replicating the broadway version isn't necessarily doing kids any favors- it's not teaching them a design process. We focused on the idea that throughout the timeline of this show the Nazis slowly take control of Germany- we primarily focused on the cultural implications of this control shift. As part of demonstrating this the costumes at the club reflected that. They had more elaborate showgirl type costumes at the start and they slowly deteriorated as the show went on until the final numbers of the show had them in historic undergarments ( which do cover most of their upper-bodies). We also ended the show with them in holocaust uniforms because realistically speaking- if they were lgbtq, Jewish, non-white, foreign, or deviated in any way under the Nazi gaze of what was considered acceptable, they eventually would have been rounded up and shipped off to a camp. This meant the audience's visual memory of their characters also included that and it tended to outweigh the club costumes. It was the last image we left our audiences with and on our final show we did not bow. I'd recommend you approach them as more' cheeky and flirty' a la the ladies in Sweet Charity as opposed to 'dead eyed whores' as one of my creative collaborators put it. Furthermore, you're absolutely right that the weight of this show is super relevant today. We were fortunate that we had a Holocaust Museum within easy travel distance to us and we took our entire company to the museum to talk about why we made that choice for the end of the show. If I were ever to do it again I'd make the trek to the Washington DC Holocaust Museum because we could make it there and back in a day. Using student testimonies of their experiences of that museum and why this show mattered to them in our lobby displays helped curb and complaints we had.

    Victoria Kesling Councill
    Chapter Director - VA EdTA/ Virginia Thespians
    Theatre Director- Fine & Performing Arts Department NKHS
    Artistic Director - NKHS Trojan Theatre
    Artistic Director - Kent England Exchange Production
    Virginia Commonwealth University BFA Theatre Education, BFA Art Education '08
    University of Houston - MA Theatre '16

    "Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art." - Konstantin Stanislavski

  • 3.  RE: Cabaret

    Posted 01-19-2020 10:54
    I saw Cabaret at a thespian festival some years ago, and was struck by how lost the context got (for the audience). Those kids knew almost nothing about WWII, Germany, Nazis (except that they were "the bad guys,") let alone the social environment during the period when the play takes place.  The level of danger, desperation, the anti-Semitism, homophobia, all were only floating on the surface of a show with great music, sexy costumes and acting opportunities.

    I agree that it's still timely, but if you move forward with it, please try to bring your audience (and cast/crew) up to speed on those larger issues.

    Douglas "Chip" Rome
    Theatre Consultant
    Educational Stages
    Burke VA

  • 4.  RE: Cabaret

    Posted 01-19-2020 12:03
    I costumed Cabaret for a high school production in 2017. Although the Kit Kat girls were in lingerie, they were often more covered than what they would normally wear, so we ended up not having issues from parents or the community. The message and power of the show was what resonated. I rent these out if there's anything you need. Here's the link to the photos: BC Spring Musical 2017 "Caberet" - Images | David Harvey. 
    Photoshelter remove preview
    BC Spring Musical 2017 "Caberet" - Images | David Harvey
    View this on Photoshelter >

    Christy Izmirian
    Lakewood CO