Me: How would you describe your show in one sentence?
Jason Slavick: Le Cabaret Grimm is a punk cabaret sashay through dark tales of loss and love.
Cassandra Marsh: It’s an edgy punk cabaret with interesting characters telling a story of journey with music of many genres.
Me: What inspired you to write Le Cabaret Grimm?
Jason: The Tales of the Brothers Grimm are awesome source material. They’re dark, moving and archetypal, so even though they’re old folk tales they hit a contemporary nerve. And their fantastical tone gives them a ton of room for imagination. I had recently seen several punk cabaret and contemporary vaudeville shows, so I was excited to play with those stories through the punk cabaret style. It all just came together.
Cassandra: Jason and I originally created this piece for a theatre camp program before it evolved into the Boston production. So, initially my inspiration came from the spirit of the students and the immediate creative connection that Jason and I had. We share similar musical influences and creative visions, which like the show, grew into the production we have today. The collaborative nature of this project is very inspiring and I would also say that that spark of creation certainly comes from my love and passion for music. The Lark has surely been my Muse.
Me: What has it been like for Jason to also direct the show?
Jason: Directing and writing are one process for me. I build my shows around the actors, using their improvisations, character choices, dialogue choices and actions. I propose situations, watch them respond, record it and then shape it. It’s very much like directing – you pose the questions and guide everyone else’s responses. I come to rehearsals prepared, but I also respond to what happens and make changes to the script as we’re going. It’s empowering to me and everyone in the room, because when something doesn’t work we get to fix it right there on the spot. Even though this show has been previously produced we’re making changes to the script.
Cassandra: I think it has been a great advantage to have the writer also direct. As the writer, Jason knows the tone of the piece and this gives him a great eye as a director. Having the writer present during a collaborative project is great for the process. Adjustments and changes are much easier to figure out when the authors are present. As the composer and musical director I would say the same about the musical part of Le Cabaret Grimm. I think it’s exciting for everyone involved to have the authors on hand.
Haley Selmon (Photo courtesy John Capo Public Relations)
Me: How has the show evolved since the Boston premiere, and what has it been like bringing it to New York?
Cassandra: Each inception of this show has evolved with each new creative member. The show becomes shaped around the voices of the actors and musicians which lends itself to finding new ways to sing/say it, and creates an atmosphere of new discoveries. I have found that very exciting and energizing. We are lucky to have such an amazing company of people bringing Le Cabaret Grimm to NYMF. It’s a wonderful, magical collaboration.
Jason: In Boston we discovered some scenes were too long, other scenes were missing and certain moments needed to be clarified. This has been a great opportunity to revisit the show and address all those issues. We rewrote a scene and added a new scene entirely, along with trimming along the way. The feedback from the NYMF staff was crucial guidance. Meanwhile, the requirements of the festival have been great for demanding discipline. They force us to keep everything lean and tight. I like it.
Me: What are you most looking forward to about NYMF?
Jason: I love the excitement of a festival. I love the frenzy and the speed. We load in, the audience arrives, we hit it hard, it’s over, they leave, we strike. Boom. Done. Repeat. It’s great energy and fun. And there is so much going on with so many things to taste. In the festival, we get to be part of a wide and varied experience for an audience.
Cassandra: I would say that what I’m most looking forward to is playing keyboard with the Grimm band and sharing the music I wrote with a wider audience. And we’re performing our show in New York City at NYMF! I’m beyond excited for the journey we’ve embarked upon.