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Cabaret has made a huge impact to the everyday reality of life in Berlin. Its history dated way back in the 16th century of Paris. According to Alan Lareau (1991) Ernst von Wolzogen opened the first German cabaret, the Buntes Theater or “Colorful Theater” in Berlin in 1901. At that time, his theater is only a stylishly designed theater with regular row seating and a stage with an orchestra pit maintaining distance between the performers and the audience.
Cabaret started to become very popular during the 2 World War. The German tried to find a place that could escape from the harsh, doom war life by entertaining themself in Cabaret. It serves as a place to “relieve stress” for Berlin folks, after a tiring work days.
Cabaret is not just a plain form of entertainment, it is also a culture that the German embrace and practice upon. It is not only a symbol of music or art, it also served as a meet up place for talented writers and artists, such as the born of Otto Julius Bierbaum (28 June 1865 – 1 February 1910) a famous German writer.
Beside all these, according to the book by Lisa, Cabaret, Cabaret make a huge impacts on sex, politics, fashion and race.
Thus, based on all these deep impacts that made by Cabaret, it is undeniable that this form of culture has shaped the heart of Berlin and the everyday life of people that live in Berlin.
Chanson is a popular type of song that played by the French cafe and bistro in the middle of nineteenth century. Chanson is a form of lyric-driven French song. Some of the famous Chanson songs are Édith Piaf – “La Vie En Rose” (1946), Rina Ketty – “J’attendrai” (1938) and Charles Trenet – “La Mer” (1946).
According to Lisa, at her book Cabaret, apart for entertainment purpose, chanson played a very important role in communication. At that time, newspaper are heavily controlled by the government, machinery and finance, therefore it is hard to obtain reliable news from it.
Chanson therefore, play a vital role in delivering messages as it dint depends on the government, machinery and finance. People started to record their daily history and spread it out in a form of voice. Chanson is also served as a democratic tool to express anger and dissatisfied to the political party. A famous song called “Expulsion” written by Maurice Mac-Nab is a great example. This song is written, during the revolutionary of the Third Republic France (1870-1940). This song was written during the time, vote of the law of June 1886. The main purpose of this song is to raise the awareness of people on the exploitative rulers and the decay politics during that time. Example of the lyrics will be
Moi j’ vas vous dir’ la vérité :
Les princ’ il est capitalisse
Et l’travailleur est exploité,
C’est ca la mort du socialisse.
Ah ! si l’on écoutait Basly,
Which translated into:
I am going to tell you the truth:
The princ ‘it is capitalization
And the worker is exploited,
That’s the death of the socialiss.
Another interesting form of Cabaret in voice message delivering, is the Satire. Based on the book by Jelavich Peter, Satire is also a form of political message delivering vehicle, that presenter will make jokes about political events. However, in the later stage, Satire has become abundant, in order to avoid conflicts with the state.
According to a journal written by Robrecht Herfkens, “A smile and a tear”, it is the satire that brings Dutch cabaret performance together. He mentions that Satire focuses on the negative aspects of the society. It addresses problems, and issues that are negatively impacting the society.
According to Robrecht there are two types of satires, Horatian and Juvenalian satire. The characteristic of Horatian satire is more towards fun, playful, gentle and light-hearted humor. In the other hands, Juvenalian satire, is often pessimistic, sarcasm, unpleasant and with less emphasis on humor.
In the Wilhelmine and Weimar eras, many entertainers made jokes about political parties. According to Sheri Berman, there are several well-known satires, which include Kurt Tucholsky’s classic poem “Das Mitglied” (The Member).
Tucholsky is one of the most important publicists of the Weimar Republic, he is a satirist, cabaret author, songwriter, novelist, poet and critic.
Based on the book, Berlin Cabaret by Peter Jelavich the political satire at that time, is more towards the satire sides than with politics, and it became a sub-genre of the cabaretic amusement industry.
A song that written by Kurt Tucholsky, was sang by one of the most famous cabaret performers during interwar Berlin. One of the song which described the cynical approval that the proliferation of profiteering during the war and postwar months.
The song included information against Noske-indeed. By December 1919, this song had become de rigueur (trend) among satirists to attack the Social Democratic minister of defense who repeatedly called in troops to suppress workers’ demonstrations.
Based on Rebecca Mullins’s 2013 report, the loss of Nazi, has turned cabaret into a place of political satire, it can be illustrated as the modern comedy club today. This political satire trends, emerged as the main purpose of cabaret at that time.
However, the information presented by this “comedy club” need to fulfill below criteria:
1. well versed in literature
2. a master of improvisation
3. well informed of current news
4. a forecaster of what may come tomorrow.
At a point, this type of cabaret has become so popular that it becomes part of the entertainment program.
The ability to joke about politics by using Satire was pretty much the most popular trends of Weimar cabaret.
Bertolt Brecht a highly influential playwright, director and innovative performance theorist, uses ‘Spass’, which mean fun in German, in addressing political and social messages on each and every of his plays.
Brecht’s main purpose is to encourage audience to adapt to the social changes and live their lives. He found that the best way to accomplish his mission is by delivering those socio-political messages through the “fun” way.
The traditional cabaret performance is a form of theatrical entertainment that consist of music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. The whole performance is rather dull, as there are not much of a huge interaction between the audiences and the performers.
As this can be seen on most of the traditional cabaret performance was carried out by actors, dancers, singers that perform what they need to perform on the stage, while the audience basically just sit and watch.
This phenomenon was observed by the Futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and he is going reinvent the way cabaret deliver the presentation to the audience, which lead to the born of The Variety Theatre.
The main objective of this concept is to involve audience as much as possible in every single show in the cabaret. This can be done by adding elements such as comic effects, erotic stimulation or imaginative astonishment in the show.
For example, some of he suggested idea from Marinetti were spreading powerful glue on the seats or selling the same ticket to ten people.
Based on the book by Lisa, The Cabaret, state that “Actors were not to play to each other and maintain the fiction of a reality existing on stage, but were to play to their audience and provoke it into participation”.
During The Variety Theatre eras, it provokes some of the artists that create home-made musical instruments, such as acoustic generators, which the average composers would call it “noice” and the home-made musical people will call it, the art of noise or “bruitism”.
Luigi Russolo, a famous painter musician, invented the “intonarumori” which are a group of experimental musical instruments and it has a huge impact on the 20th century.
He started to create sounds that were once called “noise” by others. He created sounds from palpitation of waves, the howl of mechanical saws, door slamming, printing works and also iron foundries.
Cabaret and sex
Sexuality, in all forms, was a huge segment and also the “main attraction “of Cabaret in Berlin. It was the subject of many songs and performance. It is also very interesting to learn about, how this sexual phenomenon spread across the country.
According to an article by Sarah Lippek, one of the reasons that sex is heavily connected with Cabaret is due to the hyperinflation during the Weimar in 1923. She describes, the situation at that time is as worst as, “women waiting in interminable lines for bread, or wheelbarrows full of new-worthless deutschemarks being carted to banks for deposit”.
In order to survive in this desperate condition and economy, where basic needs was rarely meet, thousands of women turned to prostitution. According to Sarah article, parents even offers to sell their daughter.
On an thesis written by Sarah E. Kolat Stripping the Veneer and Exposing a Symbol in Mendes’s Cabaret, she response that the events that happen during instrumental break in the middle of performance was, “ sodomy, oral sex, implied bestiality, sadomasochism and a host of other sexual acts in black and white silhouette. “ This is how extreme sexual was exploited during that ears.
After the year 1918, material or contents of performance that offend public morals, political and religious sensibilities, were all abolished.
Stage performance on cabaret does not require any prior inspection or approval. Due to these “free” conditions, homosexual and lesbian bars /cabarets and activities in Berlin were raising fast.
For example, The Eldorado is a famous place to see men dressed as women.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. He demanded a complete remove of the cabarets and there comes the end of the Berlin cabaret era.
As we can see over here, Cabaret has made a huge impact on different areas of life not only on individual but also the society, culture and the country.
Cabaret was a gathering place for artist and singers, it is a political messaging tools, it is a music revolution, a form of satire where presenters present political messages to the audience and it also impacted the job sectors during the hyperinflation in the year 1923.
Cabaret is more than just a song, music or performance. It symbolized the evolutionary process. It also serves as an important tools that shape the culture, socioeconomic of the people current people in Berlin and the future.
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