Think of Berlin’s nightlife and you’ll probably picture cavernous clubs in decrepit industrial buildings and the blast of techno music. However, one show is harking back to a far more hedonistic and exciting part of the city’s past. A Cabaret Story, based at the Sally Bowles Art Café in Schöneberg, invokes the spirit of the Weimar Republic – a time of unparalleled creativity and artistic freedom. We spoke to Maurice Ord, who wrote and acts in the show (along with Mirjam Beierle and Anne Wagret), about what cabaret means to him.
For the uninitiated, how would you define cabaret?
“For me, cabaret is like a shattered mirror from which its many pieces express and reflect the variety of human emotions and feelings. A forum to entertain, provoke and get away with it!”
Why do you think the Berlin of Christopher Isherwood, Marlene Dietrich and Otto Dix still captivates?
“Berlin in the 1920s was, for some, a place of experimentation, sexually, artistically and politically. Isherwood wrote about it. Dietrich embodied it. And Otto Dix painted it. It was avant-garde, bold, brash and decadent. But it was also dark and dangerous. We all like a bit of decadence at times and the cultural offerings from that period seem to continue to invoke that spirit in all of us.”
In a world of instant online gratification, does cabaret still have the capacity to shock and push boundaries?
“Yes, because it’s live and anything can happen. In cabaret, and I refer here specifically to European cabaret, there are no rules. Everything can and should be scrutinised and satirised – that’s the fun of it. It may offend. It may tease and stimulate. But overall it’s the intimacy that will always encroach upon people’s personal boundaries. And for some in these days of online isolation, that’s a very scary thing indeed.”
How has A Cabaret Story evolved? Are you still discovering new resources, sketches and songs?
“We began as a two-man outfit way back in 2011, with Mirjam at the piano and me singing and just telling the story in between the songs. Over time, I developed the script and brought out more of the characters. This then required another performer and that’s when the role of Diseuse was created. This is now being performed by Anne Wagret. At this point, Mirjam also began getting more involved in the acting and singing. With such a wealth of material out there to draw from, we’re still discovering songs and sketches to present, which in turn has provided the inspiration for the writing of our own songs in the show, which we’ll be doing more of.”
Would you consider taking the show on tour?
“Yes of course. Last year we were invited to perform in Denmark for three nights and the show was very well received. We’d love to bring it to the UK, so if you’re reading this and want to invite us over, then our suitcases are packed and ready.”
WORDS: MAX FIGGETT
Sounds like your cup of tea? Head to acabaretstory.de to find out more and to buy tickets.