Nothing is as reaffirming for a creative team as being brought back by popular demand twice! The ever-evolving, devilish and wicked Bedlam Cabaret is getting it’s spotlight at this year’s Mardis Gras – celebrating all things Sydney, all things LGBTQI and all things vaudeville! The dynamic duo behind this roving rainbow wonder fest Director Goldele Rayment and Producer Robbi James took a moment to have a chat.
Why did you start the Bedlam Cabaret?
RJ: The first Bedlam Cabaret was a fundraiser for Morgan Stern, a play by Gina Schien that we were taking to the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. The play featured the infamous Bedlam asylum in its narrative and made a fitting name for a mixed-genre cabaret where anything could happen.
Has the vision of this project changed over the three productions?
RJ: Yes! And it’s evolving all the time.
When we got back from Fringe we wanted to keep working with performers from across the arts spectrum, and we came to understand just how important it is for artists to come together and experience each other’s work too – it also makes for a great show. So Goldele Rayment (The Rogues’ Artistic Director and founder) and I decided to create a series of themed ‘bedlams’ where both emerging and established artists can play with audiences, push boundaries, or just try something totally new.
Robbi James Goldele Rayment
The performance is part of 2018 Sydney Gay Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, what are some of the journeys you and your performers have been on in these last few years?
RJ: With a cast of nine performers in addition to The Rogues, answering this question may turn into an odyssey!
For Goldele and I, we met first for theatre and then again when studying at the Sydney Opera House, but we didn’t come together for our current period of work until some time after. Since then we’ve toured our first play to the UK and Brisbane and we’re slowly building a theatre company, and a community, that we’re proud of. We’ve travelled and lived together, cried together, worked bloody hard together and it’s been a great journey so far.
GR: The last few years have been a significant time for me. In 2011 I got quite sick and was not able to make theatre or work at all for some years. Since 2015 I have been reestablishing my artistic career and I’m grateful every day for the opportunities I now have and the wonderful people I work with in the Theatre community.
As far as our eclectic and wonderful cast they’ve come to Bedlam from every corner of the imagination – although one special guest will be coming to us all the way from Berlin.
How do you select your performers for the variety style show?
RJ: Goldele will quite often have a number of artists that she is keen to work with, as do I, and we’ll take our decided theme and go out first to those we think will be a good match, and second, we go out to the arts community to see if anyone is inspired to do something.
Then it’s all about finding the mix of artists we think will make a fun show. We always strive to bring in artists we haven’t worked with before, as well as young and emerging artists.
How important is the diversity of your show to you and your team?
RJ: We’re committed to diversity in a number of ways. For us, gender and cultural diversity are just as important as accessibility and ensuring that as we create performance opportunities we open those up to as broad a base as possible. As a queer artist myself I believe in visibility as well as making creative spaces where diversity is as natural as our creative processes.
Have there been backstage dramas or disasters? What was the best one?
GR: Always! From Sydney trains delaying performers or tech, to projectors not working. I remember once in a musical two performers danced right off the stage into the orchestra pit!
What is it that you love about vaudeville?
GR: I love the variety aspect, my partner (who isn’t in theatre) tells me he loves it because if he doesn’t like one act it doesn’t last for long and a new one starts! I also love the freedom to explore the strange and wonderful, and saucy, sexy content
What’s the key to a great vaudeville performance?
GR: It’s about the individual having honed one or two things that are unique to them and their personality and performance style. Artists have the opportunity to really showcase what they are great at.
What can we look forward to in the ‘rainbow edition’?
RJ: As this is our Mardi Gras show we’ve turned up the dial for a bit of queer vaudevillian mayhem – think pervy Parisian puppets, big bold performances and a surprise or two from some of Sydney’s (and Berlin’s) most electric queer and allied performers. Did I mention the puppets?
If people need to take one thing away from the experience, what do you hope it will be?
GR: I just really want people to have a great time and appreciate the amazing talent we have living in Sydney!
The Bedlam Cabaret hits the Red Rattler on February 28th as part of Mardi Gras. Tickets and more details can be found here: http://www.mardigras.org.au/events/the-bedlam-cabaret-mardi-gras-edition