We here at Inside Cabaret look forward to our post-show afterglow. Though we’ve only worked through three productions at Cabaret so far, we have consistently and without fail taken an entire week off to rest our weary fingers after closing night of Spring Awakening. Blogging is hard. Especially when you use the same jokes over and over again.
But our rest week has passed, and something happened tonight that kick-started my desire to get writing: The Cabaret Ball. Each year, Cabaret poops away all of its leftover cash (and by “poops,” I mean scrounges around for nickles and dimes in the cracks between the floorboards to buy streamers and kazoos) to throw together a wonderful little shindig that involves dancing, Rutgers catering, and the traditional Cabbie awards. I won’t go into who won what and who danced to Ke$ha the hardest and what brand of soft drink was served (click here for a hint!), but I do want to take the time now to write a little something for a certain group of somebodies.
And I say “my” and “I” with the full intention of breaking the decorum we’ve established here at Inside Cabaret so far– I want to speak as myself here, and speak directly to the graduating group of incredible Cabbies.
Dearest Cabbie Class of 2012,
I admire each and every single one of you more than you will ever know.
Cabaret Theatre, as is predetermined by its very nature and mission, is always in need of something. Whether it’s physical (Please Dear God Fix the Darn Heaters) or artistic, Cabaret has a commitment to progress and to innovation that I have not seen anywhere else on this campus. There is always this need to be better, to push, to fix, to learn, to change. And that’s why I kept coming back; regardless of whatever other projects I chose to take part in, Cabaret was the place where I knew that I would become a better performer, a better leader, a better writer, director, producer, designer, a better member of the community. That’s what this is all about.
Cabaret is a community of creators committed to being better.
And you–all of you super, fantastic, coolness, remarkable people–are the reason why this community works. It’s impossible to want to be better without a standard to serve as your benchmark. And you push each other and impress each other and challenge each other and support each other toward achieving that goal–that goal of progress, of innovation, and of something worthwhile.
I speak from experience here. 5 years ago, when I first auditioned for Cabaret, things were very, very different. This is not the place to go into detail, but I do want to say that what we have achieved in the last few years–a time of upswing and rebirth for Cabaret–has astounded me on a daily basis.
The problem with all of this praise and admiration for Cabaret as a theatre is that it is too easy to ignore the people that have made it such a fantastic place to cry, sweat, and bleed.
So I return to this idea that Cabaret has spent the last 4 years redefining and reestablishing itself as the premiere organization for innovative, creative theatre at Rutgers University. The only way that it could have accomplished this is if a group of students came together and decided that things needed to change, that this was how change will occur, and that we needed to do it together.
And this is the class that made that mission work. This is the class that is stacked to the gills with talent on every side of the curtain, from every major, and from every walk of life. This is the class that, with each and every production, inspired others to work harder, audience members to come back, and producers to say “Let’s go bigger next time.” This is the class that dominated productions of A New Brain, Godspell, The Back-to-School Revue: Parte Deux and R3vu3, A Streetcar Named Desire, I Love You Because, Cloud 9, Spelling Bee, Twelve Angry Men, Elegies, and Spring Awakening. Seriously. Check the cast and staff lists for all of those shows. This graduating class, by the numbers, has defined Cabaret’s public identity for the last 3 years. That’s nuts.
Progress. You, my dear ladies and gentlemen, have pushed Cabaret to evolve into more than just a black-box that is often mistaken for the Jameson Projects; you have turned it into a creative powerhouse, a venue for communal storytelling that is unmatched anywhere else on this campus. You did that, and I am impressed each and every time any of you takes the stage or directs or writes or designs or sells me a damn ticket.
I believe that you cannot truly operate in this world without another person to inspire you, to emulate, to admire, and to respect. The reason why this class is so damn good (and will be missed so damn much) is that they provide that valuable resource for every single member of the Cabaret community.
Whether it’s being astonished by John and Matt and Nicole’s wicked cool technical designs, or being blown away by Marc and Amanda’s ability to turn out FOUR mainstage productions in one season and be incredible in every single one, or admiring some wonderful artwork at the Scott Hall bus-stop designed by Hanna and posted by Allison, or jamming to the musical pre-show stylings of Mike Bond, or being slapped in the face by the immensely talented Meg and Alex and Lauren during Spring Awakening, or smiling gleefully at the adorable special-one-time-only-awesomeness of Francesca, or smiling equally gleefully when buying a ticket from the equally bada$$ Tobi, or weeping at the sound/sight of the angelic Nick, or listening to songstresses Galadriel and Ellie and feeling your heart figuratively fall out of your chest, or figuratively dying from laughter as Jaclyn and Jenna display their damn fine… tuned comedic timing, or being schooled in acting by the uber talented Boris and Sabrina, or sitting in awestruck wonder of the awesomeness of someone as awesome as James C. Phillips III, I can honestly say that this graduating class has consistently inspired audiences and colleagues alike to think bigger, work harder, and, again, to be better.
To other members, like Corey and Sarah and Heather and Gwen and Erik, who were busy being awesome in their own right elsewhere this past year and were sorely missed; you are still part of this larger project, this continuity of excellence that helped define Cabaret’s progress over the last few years, and I extend my thanks to you as well.
There are so many people that have come and gone over the years, and I apologize a million times over if I didn’t write a witty one-liner for you, but know that your influence is felt each and every single day, and if I had all the time in the world, I would write each of you a sonnet expressing my gratitude for your time and effort.
I extend the utmost appreciation to Katie and Farnaz, whose leadership and forward thinking has helped unite this entire class behind that mission. Which is really hard to do considering actors have huge… personal aspirations… But it was your professionalism and care that helped bring everyone together and push them to some crazy s**t.
And, finally, there is one person who shares my old-timey knowledge of where Cabaret has come from. Mr. Danny Cassidy has consistently been the creative heart and soul of Cabaret through his service as artistic director between 2009 and 2011, his commitment to new and exciting workshops for directing, playwriting, and textual analysis, and his Beckett-ian admiration for waving cigarettes around while making absurd and/or odd remarks about everything.
So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot ever say it enough. A few of us once had the idea that Cabaret could be better, and with your tireless dedication, perseverance, creativity, and blood, it has become the best place in the world. A home. A community. A place where anything and everything can happen.
I hope that Cabaret has been a wonderful place where you could learn and work and grow and live. I hope that you take the lessons that you learned here, whether practical or spiritual, and you carry them on as you stumble along. I hope that you keep in touch, or at least check in every once in a while to see how you can support or learn or laugh with one another.
And I hope that this system continues into the future. While this is a letter to the graduating Cabbies, I would like to also remind those rising seniors and everyone down to interested first-years, that Cabaret is not one person; Cabaret is every one of you. You are all vital, you are all creative, you are all responsible for its future. Please remember this, and be as welcoming, as tenacious, as creative, and as passionate as these graduating Cabbies were and are.
Thank you all. I cannot say it enough. You have all redefined what Cabaret means, and you have all defined what Cabaret will be in the future.
Best of luck, and be excellent to each other.
From New Brunswick with love,
So that’s that.Inside Cabaret will continue to give the graduating Cabbies the appreciation and recognition they deserve in the next few weeks leading up to graduation, through various interviews and questionnaires.
Be well, true believers, and stay tuned!
Photos, as always, via the fantabulous Rich Kowalski.
And for old time’s sake: