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Off The Rails Cabaret

By Anna Dowd

When it comes to making your own fun, Darwin waits for no one.

A wild new variety night of burlesque, comedy, dance and circus, backed by live music from local legends The NEO, proves this Top End tradition is alive and well.

Coordinator, and member of The NEO, Tim Sinclair says the idea came about as a way to get more creative collaboration happening.

“We’ve been performing at festivals for years and it used to be all about getting artists together, hanging out, playing and sharing ideas,” he says.

“None of us had had that experience for a while so we decided to make it ourselves in a monthly event. We had the idea well before COVID – it was our big 2020 plan – getting all these artists from different genres together in a kind of mini festival.”

Their inaugural cabaret in July was full of surprises, a format Sinclair says the cabaret collective is based on.

“We had everything from Hemlock from Solid State Circus balancing an axe on his face and walking across an audience member, to Teghan Hughes from Happy Yess play a drinking game based on listening for a certain cord.”

Alongside a few core monthly performers, including Darwin Divine Dancers and Solid State Circus, Off The Rails Cabaret invites both seasoned artists and first-time-onstage Darwinites with a random talent to get in touch.

“On the night we’d love to be able to say for example, ‘and now here’s Merv from Humpty Doo with his parrot’ and it’s totally the highlight of the night.”

September’s line-up includes an improvisation segment where musicians, circus performers and comedians take ideas from the audience and turn them into something on the spot.

“There’s some pretty amazing improvisers in our performance art community, so we’re hoping to get on stage and take any suggestions from the audience – could be places, people, objects, and play them out. “It should be a pretty wild, interactive experiment!”

Off The Rails Cabaret

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