On their first return to the stage since the 2020 hugely successful Trash Talk, the neurodiverse artists of The Strangeways Ensemble brought their take on cabaret to the stage at the Wollongong Town Hall for three nights in December. The Strangeways Ensemble is part of an ongoing partnership between The Disability Trust and Merrigong Theatre Company, and The Strangeways Cabaret was staged as part of the Merrigong Theatre’s 2021 season.
The show was a ‘wild and rollicking ride’, full of surprises, humour and some tender moments.
Strangeways Ensemble Director Anne-Louise Rentell felt that cabaret was the perfect platform for the artists to express their creativity as she explained.
“Creating and performing this format, the ensemble has more flexibility over what they create, allowing for more breathing space and room for risk-taking in both performance and subject matter.”
Throughout the development of the production, the members of the ensemble were paired with some of Australia’s best cabaret talents who worked both as mentors and collaborators to hone the acts and exchange ideas.
The show featured two original songs written by Jordan Bowater and Malcolm Allison, as well as monologues written by Ethan Arnold, Christian Taliaferro and Rachel Head. There were also contributions from Phillip Prentice and guest artists, including comedian Madeleine Stewart and visual artist and author Debra Keenahan.
The cabaret has also inspired ensemble members to access new ways of working which is certain to inform future projects.
We look forward to see what comes next from this exceptional company.
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