I will not renounce the AtoZ Challenge! The first few months of this year have been quite hard on me for many different reasons (mostly related to work), and if I have to be honest, I feel far from being ready for the challenge, but I don’t want to renounce it!
It has become a tradition of this blog. The only year I didn’t take part was the first. I opened the blog in March 2014 and in April I discovered the challenge, too late to take part. But from 2015 I’ve taken part every year and every time I love it… in spite of the strain and the huge commitment.
So here I am once more. Crossing my fingers!
What is the AtoZ Challenge
In case you’re not familiar with the AtoZ Challenge, this is a blogging marathon happening throughout the month of April. Bloggers are challenge to blog every day but Sundays, following the alphabet. So on April 1st we’ll be blogging about a subject that starts with A, on the 2nd about a subject starting with B and so on.
That’s already challenging enough, let me tell you, but if you feel really daring, you can add a theme to your challenge. This means that not only you’ll be blogging one letter a day, but all of your topics will relate to one specific theme or subject.
This is how I like to do my challenge.
And to be honest, the theme may be an additional challenge, but it may also help keeping your focus. And certainly (and this is one fo the reasons why I come back to it every year) this is a great way to research and learn about a subject matter. One of the most effective I’ve tried.
But if you asked me why on earth I put myself though such an ordeal (and it is, believe me!) I’ll have to answer in all honesty that it isn’t about the blogging itself. It’s about networking. It’s about discovering other people’s blogs, reading, visiting, commenting and ultimately making friends. Meeting people, sharing what we love, discovering new things through the passion of someone else is a very enriching experience, the payoff for all this endeavour."The #AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal is a great blogging fest. Here's my contribution #blog #bloggers #history Click To Tweet
2019 AtoZ Challenge
This is a special year for the challenge: this is its 10th Anniversary.
As for me, this is the fifth time I take part.
My past themes have been:
I’ve said I’d go back to Weimar this year (still researching for my next writing project, you know) so here it goes, my Theme Reveal. This year, for the AtoZ Challenge, I’ll be blogging about
THE BERLINER CABARET
Living a life of excess
It is a stereotype, and stereotypes never give a faithful image of what something is (or was). But in their overly simplification, stereotypes might give us a direction. They might provide a starting point from where we can start on a journey of discovery.
Berlin in the 1920s was a place of great exuberance, of great contradiction, of a strong urge to live and enjoy life and an equally strong urge for revenge and prevarication. Does this describe the three words I’ve use above? In a way. But not completely.
It would be extremely imprecise to say that cabaret described 1920s Berlin faithfully, but it would also be imprecise to say that cabaret had nothing to do with life in Berlin in that particular time. 1920s Berlin life did mirror itself in cabaret, one way or another.
In the 1920s, Berlin cabarets were probably the most popular in the world, but this form of entertainment wasn’t born in Germany. It appeared the first time in Paris almost half a century before, in the bohemian district of Montmatre. Here is where the first cabaret, Le Chat Noir, was founded by Rodolphe Salis, a would-be artist turn tavern keeper, who started to encourage artists not only to patronise his tavern but also to share their artistic endeavours with an audience. In 1881 this was a great novelty and an even greater success. Artists, then public of all social extractions, started to frequent Le Chat Noir, and soon these performances took up the characteristic that would remain peculiar to the cabaret: in one evening, numerous short numbers, different in genre and presentation, would be presented by a conferencier (master of ceremonies) to a public in direct contact with the artists. People would sit around at tables, drinking and dining, and performers would present their numbers among them rather than on a stage.
Since the beginning, cabaret strived to make contact with its audience, by physical proximity, but also by offering subjects very close to everyday life. Cabaret was always about commenting life as it happened in that moment.
This form of entertainment was so hugely popular that soon it was exported all over Europe and even to America (where it became known as vaudeville). It came to Germany around 1900 and it found a very receptive soil. German cultural world was particularly active in those years. Avant gurdes were born and evolved very fast. But it was after WWI that cabaret as an entertainment form exploded. The Wilhelmine time was one of strict rules and social more, but the Weimar Republic propose a far freer way of understanding life and – not a secondary matter – lifted censorship from all kinds of human expressions.
Cabaret then had a chance to express people’s feelings in that excessive, shockingly honest way that was so particular to Berlin, the town that was becoming a Weltstaadt. A cosmopolis.
A – Art Nouveau
B – Berlin
C – Censorship
D – Dada
E – Energy
F – First World War
G – Girlkultur
H – House
I – Improvisation
J – Jews
K – Kabarett
L – Laughter
M – Music
N – Nationalsozialismus
O – Oral History
P – Pariasian
Q – Queer
R – Revue
S – Sensuality
T – Tingeltangel
U – Urban Life
V – Variété
W – Weltstadt
X – X-pression
Y – Youthfulness
Z – Zeitgeist
The book is not currently on Amazon but is available for Kindle via my shop
Peter Jelavich, Berlin Cabaret. Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1993