Celebrating the Success of the Fab 5 Cabaret

The Fab 5 Festivals are thrilled with the success of our first cabaret project. We are proud of the fact that the programming offered a diversity that showcased the talent, humour, and generosity of our community. We all benefit from collaboration across disciplines, which leads to new possibilities as we celebrate the arts. 

For this week’s blog, we caught up with Marie Zimmerman, the Executive Director of the Hillside Festival, about this great way of opening Hillside Inside 2014.

Marie:  From my perspective, the event went supremely well. Each Festival organization has copious talent at its disposal and each representative is a creative planner par excellence. The artists we pulled together for the evening were remarkable, and their pieces were by turns soul-searching, quirky, strange, beautiful, and heart-swelling. It was a night of contrasts: in music alone, we had Tony Dekker’s quiet meditations on life, GUH’s playful and unpredictable meanderings, and Maestro Fresh Wes’s flamboyant affirmations. In film, we had Georges Méliès’ bizarre sci-fi fantasy from 1912. In dance, we had Kelly Steadman’s feisty celebration of impetuosity and Janet Johnson’s courageous exploration of the dark-light continuum. So, you were never bored. And you never knew what to expect.

Tony Dekker performing songs from Prayer of the Woods. Photo by Peter Grimaldi.
GUH, composed of Guelph and Toronto musicians, providing a soundtrack to the George Méliès 1912 film, Conquest of the Pole. Photo by Peter Grimaldi.
     Marie: I can’t pick out a few highlights, because each piece was a highlight—honestly.  My love for each of these Festivals and their arts and my respect for their curating made the Fab 5 cabaret not only a dream come truewhich sounds sappy, I knowbut also an awe-inspiring event. Here we had in one room on one night the energy of people who really have something to say: people who have visions of humanity and a sense of purpose that they cannot help but communicate. Their visions were expressed in beautiful and complex pieces of art that kickstarted our imaginations. 

The Guelph Youth Apprentice II Company performing You Can by Janet Johnson in the lobby of the River Run Centre at the intermission.
Solana Del Bel Belluz, Rowen McBride, Brooke Powell, Corinna Shelley, and Ari Zimmerman performing in Young Lions by Kelly Steadman. Photo by Oliver Mercure.

Marie: People can expect to see us at each other’s Festivals. We received Ontario Trillium Foundation funding to develop our co-presentation partnership, so we need experience doing it in order to hone the partnership. Audiences have a lot to look forward to in the coming years!

      Make no mistake: it’s not easy pulling five Festivals together on a single show. It’s a little like asking five conductors to direct an orchestra where each of the musicians has been picked by a different festival.  It can be a sonic Hallelujah but it can also deteriorate into everyone yelling, “do I play NOW?” “What’s the tempo?“  “Can we have a metronome at first?”  The fact that we were so successful is a credit to our ability to step up, get out of the way, or leap when it counts. And it’s lucky we like each other! I look forward to all that will come out of this amazing collaboration.
Katie Ewald, Robert Kingsbury, and Lynette Segal performing in This Side of Light by Janet Johnson and Portal Dance Project. Photo by Oliver Mercure.
Maestro Fresh Wes Williams with his book, Stick to Your Vision (McClelland, 2010). Photo by Oliver Mercure.
Like what you saw?
As part of the Fab 5’s new co-presentation model, we can curate a cabaret style show for your event! Contact [email protected] for more information.

We would like to thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for all of their support of this Fab 5 co-production.
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