Cooee Cabaret rehearsals

Putting together the touring show
 Brendan Smith
Lisa Maza and Nigel Ubrihien rehearsing for Cooee Cabaret

The performers stalked about the rehearsal studio, flapping their arms and clucking like chooks. ‘They’re crazy, Dad!’ my daughter whispered to me, smiling like this was a good thing.

We were at rehearsals for NFSA’s new touring show Cooee Cabaret, at NIDA where performers Lisa Maza, Nigel Ubrihien and Nielsen Gordon were slaving over the long weekend to pull the show together. It’s a fun family show that draws from the recordings on the Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry.

One of the earliest sound recordings in Australia is a novelty song called The Hen Convention (recorded by Thomas Rome in 1896) and it features impersonations of chooks … sort of like the 19th century version of Weird Al Yankovic or the Crazy Frog song … in fact, if they had mobile phones in the 1890s, The Hen Convention would probably have been a popular ringtone.

Of course, when those ‘crazy’ performers asked the ‘audience’ (my daughter and I) to join in with their chicken song, she wasn’t keen, so I did my best poultry performance solo. I trust the Mildura and Gunnedah locals won’t be too shy to show us their chook impressions when Cooee Cabaret rolls into town in a few weeks time.

Get practicing folks – we need your cluckin’!

Cooee Cabaret: the Sounds of Australia show will be performed at the Mercy Theatre in Mildura at 7.30 on Friday 7 May and at the Civic Theatre in Gunnedah at 7.30pm on Friday 14 May.