Perth International Cabaret Festival – Michael Griffiths Celebrates An Important Art Form

Meow Meow Meow Meow Image © Magnus Hastings

Winter blues be gone – cabaret is here to save the day.

Perth International Cabaret Festival, which kicked off for the very first time in 2021, is back. Intimate, immediate and rule-breaking, the art of cabaret will be celebrated in stunning new spaces throughout His Majesty's Theatre, as artists share stories and interact with audiences.

From intimate ukulele performances to workshops, choirs, masterclasses and, of course, classic cabaret – all of this and more is to be expected throughout this shimmering celebration.

With experienced Australian cabaret performer and musician Michael Griffiths at the helm as Artistic Director, the programme – and the festival's attendees – are in safe hands.

Here, we chat to Michael about the festival's offering, and about cabaret itself as an art form. . . Which is more important now than ever before.

Last year was Perth’s inaugural Cabaret Festival. How was that for you, and what are you most looking forward to about the 2022 event?!
It was an absolute career highlight! The real magic of the festival was that it all took place in His Majesty’s which surrendered itself completely to us, allowing a ‘pop up’ venue in the new Dress Circle bar and even cabaret seating in the main auditorium for the first time. Closed borders meant we lost a good handful of shows and I’m looking forward to a second chance to present some shows we lost and for the country’s finest cabaret artists to descend on Perth and seduce us with their stories and songs.

What does it mean to you to be the event’s Artistic Director?
Firstly to extend invitations to artists I admire and, just as importantly, to build an audience in Perth that trusts the integrity of the festival and joins us each year to celebrate cabaret’s finest. It’s important we continue to nurture and champion local WA artists as well as inviting artists from across the globe. It's a huge honour and one I don’t take lightly. With the world resuming travel almost as normal, I’m looking forward to really bringing the ‘international’ from our moniker in ’23.

MichaelGriffiths ArtisticDirector PICF
Michael Griffiths

And what does your role entail?
Cabaret means different things to different people. To me it’s an entertainment that engages directly with an audience in an informal setting, and we’ve certainly settled into a format featuring songs (which traditionally wasn’t always the case). You won’t find a cabaret venue in the world these days that doesn’t have some sort of piano. My role is to programme exceptional artists, build an audience and create spaces for artists and audiences to intersect. The magic of a festival is just as much about what happens between the shows: it’s artists colliding backstage at the late show, it’s audience members befriending at cabaret tables before a show, it's meeting your hero at a free artist talk.

What has been the biggest reward in seeing the Cabaret Festival unfold as a relatively new event for Perth?
Seeing the week actually unfold! Between COVID and it being the first time it was presented, so much of the planning involved our imagination, sometimes against all odds. Actually seeing it happen with such palpable excitement from both artists and audiences was the biggest reward. Audiences and artists were equally smitten with each other.

And how are you hoping audiences respond to the 2022 iteration?
I’m hoping our audience from last year responds with the same enthusiasm and that word has hopefully travelled. Good word of mouth is the highest compliment and that’s what we’ve been delighted to hear so far.

VikaLinda Lisa Businovski
Vika & Linda Bull

Tell us a bit about what’s on offer at this year’s event.
We have a curated line-up featuring national treasures including Vika & Linda Bull, Meow Meow, Lior and Paul Capsis as well as local heroes Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse and Libby Hammer & Ali Bodycoat. We see the return of the Closing Night Gala which was the standout smash from last year, the late night variety show 'UpLate Downstairs' where anything can happen, free events including masterclasses, artist talks and an open mic night and we debut a fabulous new venue On The Boards where the audience convenes at cabaret tables on the actual stage of His Majesty’s with the auditorium as a stunning backdrop. Best thing to do is check out the full line-up on our website.

Why do you think Perth needs a Cabaret Festival?
Adelaide Cabaret Festival started back in 2001 and cities all over the country have followed suit with their own take on a winter cabaret festival. Perth may have been a bit slow on the uptake but it’s certainly landed with a bang. It’s perfect for winter months as dressing up a little fancy and staying up late indoors is part of the fun.

Describe Perth International Cabaret Festival 2022 in three words.
Winter cabaret heaven.

Perth International Cabaret Festival takes place from 18-26 June at His Majesty’s Theatre.



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