Last weekend on April 9-10, Lawrence International (LI) hosted the 40th Cabaret entitled “Our Pale Blue Dot,” featuring performances representing countries and cultures from around the world. Though the performances were well-received by both the Lawrence and Appleton communities, Cabaret is supposed to be a celebration of cultures, and there is still room to improve on that front.
Throughout its history, Cabaret has changed formats often. Cabaret has not only been a proud tradition,but also an essential platform for our community to celebrate the cultural diversity present on the Lawrence campus. This is especially important because of our diverse body of international students in predominantly white Appleton. More than just performances, Cabaret provides a space for students, regardless of their origins, to come together in a collaborative effort.
Although there is emphasis on understanding cultures and avoiding generalization and cultural appropriation, several remarks made in the show needed more of this cultural awareness.
Cabaret is first and foremost a performance, and therefore, it is important to engage the audience. However, there is a need for more caution, even in jokes, to avoid being offensive or making implicitly contestable claims.
In addition to being more mindful and culturally aware, as a celebration of culture, Cabaret should not only be about performances and spectacle. It should also offer education and information due to its importance to Lawrence and the greater Appleton community. This does not mean Cabaret should take on a different format, but simply adding relevant information to the emcees’ script would be a good place to start.
Although the delicate balance between being entertaining and informative can be difficult to achieve, it is possible, especially for LI, which has a history of being able to learn and change. As Cabaret has taken on many different forms, it is reasonable to believe that continual improvements to the show will be made.