With performance venues in Melbourne currently closed, cabaret and burlesque artist/producer Sophie deLightful, has found a way of bringing the magic of live performance to the people while providing financial support to artists during this incredibly difficult period. Cooped-Up Cabaret: A Live Stream Variety Show is a fortnightly live-action event presented in a digital landscape. By purchasing a $15 registration, viewers gain access via Zoom and interact with each other and the performers through its chat function. As one registration link is valid for a household to watch, they are encouraged to use the money saved to tip performers via PayPal, if they are in a position to do so.
With the sudden loss of employment for herself and fellow artists, deLightful had to get inventive with how she could earn an income. "The effect of COVID-19 on the arts sector was virtually immediate and I lost entire bookings which paired with the uncertainty of my foreseeable future. I started seeing performers offer their work online: bands playing a set, variety shows pieced together with pre-recorded acts and other more complex multi-location concerts and all of it was free," she tells me. "I became determined to create a concept that paid beyond sporadic donations, placing value on the arts and activating the community I knew was out there that's passionate about being part of a cabaret show."
"I wanted to provide an opportunity where things happened in real time and where people could comment, tip and be included in the adventure. It also allowed the performers to do what they loved and have something creative to look forward to," deLightful explains. "Along the way, I approached my good friend Timothy Christopher Ryan, who I have spent years producing and performing with, and who would be a reliable and talented co-host. I enjoy having him to bounce off ideas and share the promotional and admin workload. We have had a great partnership so I was happy to involve him on an ongoing basis."
Cooped-Up Cabaret premiered on 4 April to a sell-out audience and deLightful was blown away by the enthusiasm from viewers and the artists. "It was incredible! We had people tuning in from the UK, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand and across Australia. It
is important in these times, to give people a chance to not only
appreciate but also support the arts, and the result was better than I had expected and I was able to
pay my performers a wage that was consistent, if not higher, than the
regular cabarets I do in the outside world.” she informs me. "This proves
that people still value what we do, and is a truly inspirational example
for creatives who may be feeling down or unmotivated in
"The performers have been fabulous and so
willing to be a part of this initiative and gracious in their time to
figure it out," she says. "As a producer, I make an effort to be
organised, transparent and understanding in order for everyone to
have the best experience before, during and after the show. I set an
expectation that this is a real show and the artists
needed to bring it - the costumes, the makeup, the characters - and they did! The post-show cast chat we had was an absolute buzz of energy and how fantastic it was to feel like they were on stage again."
While the acts for the 18 April show have not been fully revealed, deLightful gives some teasers as to what people can expect. "Every show will feature a diverse selection of performances, in line with
how I always run my shows. A true cabaret is one
which offers the viewer a combination of something that astounds them,
something they've never seen and something they wish they could
see a thousand times over! Our upcoming show will have bubbleology,
fire performance, sideshow, burlesque, dance, drag, and pole dancing from performers around Australia. I've got the line-ups
confirmed as far as June so there's no shortage of talent
coming your way!"
Time and Dates: 8:00pm, fortnightly from Saturday 18 April
Ongoing event link: Facebook event page
18 April ticket registration: Zoom website