Event Title

Come to the Cabaret, You Swine: French Cabaret Theater as Innovative Social Commentary

Location

King Building 127

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2019 7:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2019 8:00 PM

Abstract

France’s iconic cabarets such as Le Chat Noir and Le Moulin Rouge often appear to represent a bygone tradition. However, in the early twentieth century, cabaret theaters served as not only venues for the innovation and presentation of avant-garde art, but as innovators in entertainment themselves. Specifically, by examining how Rodolphe Salis at Le Chat Noir engaged with avant-garde artists such as Erik Satie, a great challenger to traditional art institutions, as well as with popular performers like Aristide Bruant who flew loudly in the face of class constructs, this paper shows how the club’s unique entertainment appeal came from artistically inventive but merciless commentary on its cultural surroundings. These were qualities I sought to capture as I staged my own lecture-performance in the style of a cabaret revue, which featured acts that exemplified characteristic elements in an accompanying narration, and brought to life cabaret theater’s essential — and universally pertinent — ability to inform and make relevant commentary while entertaining.

Keywords:

theater and musical theater, French history and culture, social commentary

Notes

Session VIII, Panel 27 - Theatrical | Analyses

Moderator: James O’Leary, Frederick R. Selch Associate Professor of Musicology

Major

Musical Studies

Advisor(s)

James O'Leary, Musicology

Project Mentor(s)

Kathryn Metz, Ethnomusicology

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Apr 27th, 7:00 PM Apr 27th, 8:00 PM

Come to the Cabaret, You Swine: French Cabaret Theater as Innovative Social Commentary

King Building 127

France’s iconic cabarets such as Le Chat Noir and Le Moulin Rouge often appear to represent a bygone tradition. However, in the early twentieth century, cabaret theaters served as not only venues for the innovation and presentation of avant-garde art, but as innovators in entertainment themselves. Specifically, by examining how Rodolphe Salis at Le Chat Noir engaged with avant-garde artists such as Erik Satie, a great challenger to traditional art institutions, as well as with popular performers like Aristide Bruant who flew loudly in the face of class constructs, this paper shows how the club’s unique entertainment appeal came from artistically inventive but merciless commentary on its cultural surroundings. These were qualities I sought to capture as I staged my own lecture-performance in the style of a cabaret revue, which featured acts that exemplified characteristic elements in an accompanying narration, and brought to life cabaret theater’s essential — and universally pertinent — ability to inform and make relevant commentary while entertaining.