Invisible Cabaret: Why We're Here
Invisible Cabaret is a collective devoted to exploring themes of mental health through the art forms of cabaret and burlesque. The motivation behind the project is to make invisible struggles visible.
We thought long and hard about whether to pursue this avenue of funding. In the medium- to long-term, we intend to apply for proper grant funding so that we can take our message of ‘stripping away stigma’ to a wider audience. This would then allow us to put on shows, the proceeds of which would be donated to mental health charities. However, in the short-term, we need to have something to show funders that the appetite is there for our project. Hence, Kickstarter.
We have our first ‘run’ booked for 9th - 11th January 2018 at the King’s Head Private Members’ Club in Shoreditch. In format, it will be a variety show, and content will be exclusively related to mental health.
Who are we?
The group was founded by two Cambridge University graduates, Rosalind Peters and Rochelle Thomas, who met on the Musical Theatre scene at university. Having both personally struggled with mental health issues, earlier this year Peters and Thomas joined forces to form Invisible Cabaret.
The team now boasts a core troupe of 10 female performers who are skilled in a wide variety of disciplines, from tap dancing to songwriting, from ukulele to classical burlesque performance. We settled on ‘Cabaret’ as our descriptor because we felt that encompassed the wide variety of skills showcased, but also set expectations of song, dance and comedy. It also advises the audience that our show is not pure burlesque (although both the form and the tradition are highly significant to the project). Numbers currently projected to be included in the show cover themes of depression, self-care, CBT, social anxiety, and more.
You can find more about this, including photos and bios of the team, at www.invisiblecabaret.org.
We appreciate that ‘cabaret’, ‘burlesque’ and ‘mental health' may sound like an odd mix. We hope that is in part why it may capture people’s imaginations. Our aim is to break down some of the boundaries and stigma surrounding mental health by exploring them in boundary-breaking, stigma-busting art forms. By its very nature as an art form, burlesque is fun, cheeky and lighthearted; a useful approach when treating difficult subjects (though, naturally, this must be applied sensitively). It is in our favour that neoburlesque has been enjoying a wide resurgence over the last few years. We hope to ride that wave and bring expressing concepts of mental health to a much wider audience as a result. We are hoping that by encouraging the audience to laugh they will give themselves permission to think and talk about these issues long after the show has ended.
Please note this does not mean we desire to make these invisible struggles pretty. As expounded in our mission statement, we are firmly against glamourising or romanticising mental illness. The name ‘Invisible Cabaret’ was chosen because we are devoted to showing the ‘invisible’ side of mental health struggles; and, in our appearance-obsessed society, the invisible is often that which we deem not ‘attractive’ enough to show. Though we will be exploring the darker side of these issues, we very much intend for audiences to feel uplifted and empowered by the show.
If we may speak boldly: based on myriad factors (the unanimous response to the concept so far, the excellent standard of our performers and the passionate momentum the project continues to generate), we have high hopes that our initial three-night weekday run will expand to be featured at other venues, and could develop into a regular occurrence. However, in order to be taken seriously for future bookings, we need a portfolio strong enough to make us a great bet for future bookers, venues and funders. Without this show, and without breaking even, we will have no choice but to retire our message and medium for the foreseeable future.
Our aim is to raise enough money to cover extra venue and equipment costs, marketing costs (most of which will be internally created and broadcast exclusively online), and hopefully some expenses. We are already working on a shoestring and asking our performers to contribute more than we would ideally like. If we would offer them some kind of payment, that would be the absolute cherry on top.
We are extremely mindful of the value of your money, and that it could be going towards a lot of different things. It is a saddening truth that the arts is a difficult business if you're not Ziegfeld-rich right now. We know the appetite to learn, express, laugh and be free is out there. We just need to get our show to the people. So if you are at all passionate about mental health and/or the arts, we would be over the moon if you would consider flicking an e-coin or two our way.
Yours gratefully and glitterfully,
Ferrero Rochelle, Fanny Storey, and the rest of Invisible Cabaret xxx
Risks and challenges
We have already overcome some major challenges in terms of venue hire and filling some of our production roles by working on a shoestring, personally funding, and calling in favours with generous friends who believe in our cause of propagating mental health advocacy and awareness.
Our main risks now fall on our heads; namely, if we have worked incredibly hard and entirely out of pocket to put on a brilliant show for an invisible (because they're non-existent) audience. Our venue is sorted, our team is in place... At the end of the day, we are putting on this project because we are passionate about expressing our various relationships to the ideas surrounding mental health. We truly believe this message could go further. For all your support, financial and otherwise, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts xxxLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)