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01 Cabaret Methods Inside Out: Practice, Pedagogy, Publishing, Protest


We invite artistic or pedagogical interventions and critical analyses of cultural texts that use cabaret as method. We welcome artists, scholars, community organizers, and others who are using cabaret methods, including but not limited to: variety, satire, urgency, risk, distributed expertise, sharing the stage, fabulousness, and provocation on and off the stage. In light of the theme of the Encuentro this year, we might particularly reflect “the strategy of juxtaposing the humorous and the sober” (Gutierrez 2010) used to such great effect by cabaret artists to investigate the serious ideas of the day.

We convene this Work Group in order to open the discussion about cabaret as on ongoing translocal moment in which “sexual, racial and economic minorities push back against the individualist, exemplary modern subject, cultivating instead tactical cultures of collaboration, shared resources and coalition politics” (Cowan 2015). Furthermore, we hope that this Working Group will allow for us to develop a translocal genealogy of political cabaret within the Americas, a genealogy that is often overlooked in favour of a nostalgia for European fin-de-siècle and wartime cabaret artistique.

Format and Structure:

The group will be organized based on participants’ interests. We hope to explore what cabaret means as a performance practice, and as a portable, cross-platform set of tactics and methods that continue to be central to protest movements, online organizing, and as a mode of teaching, research, knowledge production, and knowledge transfer. In this working group we will share each other’s stories of using cabaret methods on and off the stage (in performance, in the classroom, in our research, in the streets). Each participant will have an opportunity to discuss their work and receive group feedback. In the final days we may decide as a group to build something together - a performance, a street intervention, a research paper, a manifesto — or perhaps all of these!

Questions that we will like to address in the working group (not limited):

  • What is cabaret to you? What is cabaret where you live/perform?
  • What does cabaret allow you to do, where you do it?
  • Is cabaret a consciousness-raising tactic/political pedagogy?
  • Is there such a thing as a ‘cabaret methodology’? If so, how and where does it move beyond the stage?
  • If there is a theory of cabaret, what is it to you?
  • What are some limitations of cabaret? How does cabaret get a bad reputation?
  • How does cabaret differ from place to place?
  • How does cabaret become political? Is it always political?
  • Under what conditions is cabaret an organizing method?
  • How does a cabaret analysis/method/practice inform broad categories of performance and theatre like variety, humor/satire, political performance?
  • What does it mean when ‘cabaret’ means different things in different contexts?
  • How do we translate cabaret practice/method/theory? Is cabaret portable?
  • How does cabaret work beyond the stage/the theatre/the bar?
  • How might scholarly work and pedagogy also deploy the "cabaret methodology?"
  • What are ways to theorize, foreground or signal a cabaret methodology as trans-discipline, inter-discipline, intra-discipline or anti-discipline when we theorize cabaret within the larger ‘disciplinary’ history and practice of Performance Studies or Activist Studies and/or when we use this method to engage with other objects/sites/scenes/bodies of inquiry?

Languages spoken/understood by conveners:

Spanish, English, Portuguese, French (understood)


Laura G. Gutiérrez is Associate Professor of Latinx Performance and Visual Culture Studies in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage (2010) won The Ninth Annual MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies. Gutiérrez has published essays and book chapters on topics such as: Latina/o and Mexican performance art, border art, video art, and political cabaret. She is completing a monograph on racial and sexual panics in mid-twentieth century Mexico through a reading of films from the period. Her ongoing research on Mexican political cabaret will also produce a cultural history of the genre.

T.L. Cowan is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto. Cowan’s recent essays are published in Women & Performance (2018), Liminalities (2016), and More Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women (2016). Cowan is currently completing a monograph, Transmedial Drag: Cross-Platform Cabaret Methods and developing two online projects: The Cabaret Commons Digital Platform and the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory. T.L. is also a cabaret performer, perhaps best known for her alter ego, Mrs. Trixie Cane.


  • Carina Guzman
  • Cecilia Sotres
  • Christina Baker
  • Christina Streva
  • David Tenorio
  • Fabián Céspedes
  • Fernanda Souza
  • Eduardo Fajardo
  • Juliana Fadil Luchkiw
  • Mark Sussman
  • Martha Toriz-Proenza
  • Nora Isabel Huerta Huajardo
  • Pako Reyes
  • Stephen Lawson
  • Vicente Leite Filho
  • Yecid Calderón Rodelo
  • Maria Paz Valenzuela Silva
  • Rosanne Sia
  • Liliana Ramírez
  • Bretton White
  • Gisela Martinez
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