Friday, February 15, 2013

My 1994 Resume Shot and What the &*^% is Cabaret?

So, I keep everything...journals...papers...EVERYTHING..and then I file it...colour code it...because that is the kind of gal I am.
(And it has saved my ass, believe me.)
I was having a little existential crisis today...about my set song idea lists...about the handful of new songologues I have written for my first Cabaret Residency show at Buddies on March 4th and 5th...

(Get your tickets here...I gotta do it because life is too short to fuck around...COME ON OUT!!

And I found myself lying in bed...working a charlie horse out of my calf that was brought about by trying to walk said crisis off on the Good Life treadmill...and THEN...BANG...I found myself back to the source of it all...after all these years...and all the questions I have tried to answer and shows I have done and the songs I have sung and stories I have told...I sat and thought...
What IS cabaret?
No really, Sharron, what is cabaret?
And then my head exploded...I had to go take some TUMS (Five to be exact...George is not here tonight so I can go whole hog on the medicine chest...he thinks there is such a thing as too many TUMS...I mean, really.)...and then I began to freak out.
Which, really, is good.
This is why I wanted to have a do something and say, "Well, that was not what I meant to do at all..." and have that be be be unsure...and to find something new...or to expand upon, flesh out and deepen the DO something terrifying and look into Cabaret in all it's forms. Find out more about the forms that interest me that I have not yet tried myself.
Lord, I just made myself a bit fancy sick. (I just went and got another TUMS)
Then as soon as I was feeling good about the scare it all started to spin again...I started to wonder if true cabaret was the character artists who I saw in Europe interpreting Weimar or Irish Folk Cabaret which was so funny and dark or the London Variety/Burlesque/Circus cabaret which was so naked and could be raunchy and old school at the same time...which one is it....what was it....what the fuck is it? Did it have to be any of those things at all? What did I want to do...what am I trying to say that is new...maybe I should stick to some of my old themes...WHY did I say I would find something new...what if  there is nothing new to find!!!
So, to calm myself the fuck down and to get my bearings I thought what might help was going back to my own source.
I dug through a very large numbers of old journals and found my first set list...and pages and pages of thoughts I had formed on cabaret and/or doing an act...circa...wait for it, people....1994.
Holy jumpin.
I had something to say, people.

This was my resume shot.

I had burned my bangs in a tragic hair straightening they never quite worked....but not bad.
I was in Showboat at the Ford Centre (as it was called then) with Elaine Stritch and Bobby Morse and I was going to moonlight as a cabaret artist....lord, how I thought that thought at the time with my hands clutched to my chest in ecstasy. How fancy was that?

After trying a few short 15 minute sets, three song guest spots on other's shows, I clearly decided I wanted to write down all my patter and transitions...that was the way we did it in Act Pacing back at Sheridan College and that, besides seeing people like Mark Cassius work were my only teachings (Mark had me on his was my first 15 minute set...and he made sure I got booked in the club for a full show two weeks later) , so when I started to try and get it all together,  I wrote my thoughts down...

"All the good lines and thoughts..."
Well, there you go...pages and page of monologues and ideas...I was writing my own little manual...saying things like "Songs MUST be diverse...find signature tunes not yet claimed by others..."
I know this all seems quite obvious...but to see it all being figured out about 20 years ago in a journal with a Vincent Van Gogh "Starry Night" cover makes me feel happy.
You GO 1994, Sharron!!!
For the is my first set list...for the first of two sets of 45 minutes at J.J.'s on Church Street for Friday, August 17th, 1994:  

Set One
Sing To Tell a Lie  (Ain't Misbehavin')
After You (Standard Up Tempo)
Can't Take That Away From Me (Standard Medium)
Guess Who I Saw Today? (Jazz/Standard Ballad)
Dr. Long John's Blues(Blues Comedy) (P.S. Jenni Burke and I pilfered this chart from one Michelle Berting...I can't believe she gave it to us...I still have it today.)
Time Heals Everything (Mack and Mabel)
Is it a Crime? ( Bells Are Ringing)
I Can't Make You Love Me (Bonnie Effing Raitt)
You Can Always Count On Me (City of Angels)

Just seeing it made me feel a little less scared.
I could see it...I don't know if I ever wrote it down...but it was in my head...
My set list rules... the rules I have stuck to for years...
Up song
Medium Ballad
Ballad (or uptempo depending on the content and feeling of previous song)
Funny (hopefully)
Super 11:00 can really belt the shit out here
Up UP Up or Funny Funny Funny
Encore: I have secretly saved this spot for one day singing 'I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (never happened...all for the best, really)   
I have changed it a bit and challenged it over the years...but this was my ten commandments that all else came from...I was striving to try something new in my life back then...and it turned out alright...changed the trajectory of my dare to be brave, 2013 Sharron.
What is cabaret indeed?
Is it the songs? The stories...
I know what it is in my head.
I know the things that must exist in a space to make it cabaret for me.
But I looked through a bunch of my interviews to see what I said out loud and this is the answer I have given...and this is the basis of what I believe it to be... Cabaret is intimate storytelling with music and audience interaction. The artist fills in the blanks. 
No everyone's idea...but it is mine.
AND I like it...because it leaves lots of room for interpretation. 
Then when I went out into the world I saw there was truly so many different formats and forms...truly the only limits became my imagination. (I looked around on line to see who originally made this 'imagination' quote...I thought it might be Walt Disney....but it seems to be atributed to many people...I could have looked farther...but it was understand.)
And with that feeling of potential bravery and the "only limits" quote I went into my MAC to a bunch of new stuff I wrote and deleted it (okay, I just saved it to another folder) and went to the other stuff that is still a bit unformed...and scary...and put it in the "TO DO " file...
I am terrified...but excited...and a bit terrified...but mostly excited...
AND I just threw my set list rules away...okay...I put them in a file...but you get the drift.
I hope you will come along with me..and see what the fuck happens.
Do you want to? Come on and click the above link for tickets and let's take a ride together.

Risk! Risk anything! 
Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. 
Act for yourself. 
Face the truth. 

- Katherine Mansfield


1 comment:

MK Piatkowski said...

Your first set had City of Angels! That's such a great character song. I flove that musical. One day I'm singing With Every Breath I Take in duet style. Funny is tempting too but I don't think you can actually breathe during that song.

Thanks for this. As I've been putting my musical ideas together I've been wondering if I'm cabaret or nightclub. Your definition is clarify the difference.