Shining a spotlight on the Melbourne Cabaret Festival: Q&A with David Read

6 years ago
Sharona Lin

The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is upon us once again. This year’s theme is ‘keeping it fresh’; we had a quick chat with Artistic Director and Co-Founder of the Festival, David Read, about what that means and how best to enjoy it all!

Melbourne Cabaret Festival web


The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is rapidly approaching which is very exciting. You’ve been right there since the inaugural Festival in 2010, which you helped found. Do you still get nervous as it approaches?

Oh yes, every time! If it didn’t I would take it as a sign that things are getting boring.

Since you’ve started running the Festival, have you noticed an uptick in local cabaret? I feel like it’s not unusual to go check out a cabaret act in Melbourne anymore, which is great.

That’s good to hear, as that was one of our original goals. Cabaret’s always been that thing that’s been bubbling away but because of the very nature of it – usually self produced acts in small venues – there was never enough money to ‘shine a spotlight’ on it. That’s what a festival is good at doing.

The theme this year is ‘keeping it fresh’, and it’s clear in the program that you’ve taken that seriously. You’ve packed the program with new shows, new faces and even new venues. What’s the new thing you’re the most excited about?

I think the fact that we’re dealing with around 100 different performers who we’ve never worked with before. Some have called that decision ‘brave’ … we call it fresh and exciting!

There’s a great mix of shows lined up this year – what are your tips on finding the best shows, and how best to navigate the Festival?

I would recommend to see one of the variety nights which contain a number of brief sampler acts – that way you can work out what you like before committing to a full length show. This year these nights are the Opening Gala and the Best of the Fest.

The Melbourne Cabaret Festival received a Creative Victoria VicArts grant this year, which was very exciting. What are your plans for the future with the grant?

Yes, it’s our first ever State Government grant which I guess recognises that it and our peers (the grant is peer assessed) think we’re doing good things. It enables us to further develop and promote the festival next year … watch this space!

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