UP ALL NIGHT: What gave you the idea for the show?
DICK JONES: One of my biggest reasons for doing this show is to address the disconnect that many trauma survivors feel with their own bodies. So many people feel like their body isn't their own anymore. So this show is a way for survivors to actually engage with and use their bodies to tell their stories. While there are some opportunities to do something similar here in New Orleans, I hadn't seen a space specifically dedicated to that. As someone who has been doing a lot of trauma work lately, it felt important to me to provide that safe space.
UAN: What does the show's title mean?
DJ: It's actually the name of a song by Sia. Yep. I totally ripped that off. I think a lot of her music is very trauma informed and empowering. But more than that, it's about breaking out of the cage you've been in -- whether it's the literal cage of an abusive relationship or the mental cage of negative thought patterns. Sometimes it seems impossible to get the strength or the resources to move past those things, but once you do, it feels amazing. I want this show to be the literal embodiment of that feeling, if that makes sense.
UAN: Why did you choose STAR?
DJ: STAR is an organization so near and dear to my heart. I've probably been involved in raising a lot of funds for them over the years, but it wasn't until I actually needed to use their resources myself that I realized just how tireless their dedication is and how vital their services are. The lack of resources for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence is stunning, and this organization really does it all in terms of providing people with the tools they need to navigate some of the worst moments of their lives.
UAN: Tell us about the acts and the kind of performances that audience members can expect. How did you find the cast? Has this been a different show in terms of the production process/curating the line up, etc?
DJ: This show will be a lot of movement! Like I said, we're all trying to reconnect with our bodies after having agency taken away, so it will be interesting to see what each performer brings. This show has definitely had its own particular logistics. Safety is always a top priority. Some people may fear that their abuser(s) will find out about the show, so we've gone to great lengths to make sure that doesn't happen. While we're mostly focusing on the joy of reclaiming your body and your spirit, we know that sometimes things still get a bit heavy. In case anyone needs a break, we also have two very amazing safety workers who will be available to both cast and audience in case someone gets triggered by any of the content. They know grounding exercises and relaxation techniques and are just generally warm, lovely, people you'd want around when you're having a bad day. I wish I could hire a safety worker to just follow me around every day.
UAN: What do you love about the AllWays Lounge as a venue?
DJ: The Allways is my home! I know many others in the performance community can say the same. Zalia truly goes out of her way to create a safe, loving space for entertainers to grow and flourish. I don't know where I'd be without her of the many incredible people I've met through working in this space.
UAN: What does Cabaret Unreal have planned for the future?
DJ: Cabaret Unreal is finally coming back after this LONG covid hiatus! While I'm sure I'll be doing things at The Allways here and there, our main home is Bar Redux. We'll be kicking off our quarterly show series this coming April 2 with "Take Off Your Pasties and Jacket: a Blink 182 Cabaret." Definitely a way different vibe, I know. But Cabaret Unreal has always been a place where I can let my idiosyncratic fantasies run wild. We've done everything from a Food Networked themed show to a show based on everyone's favorite episodes of "Are You Afraid of the Dark." There's a lot of millennial nostalgia, for sure.
Bird Set Free: A Cabaret For Survivors takes place at The AllWays Lounge on Saturday March 12th at 7pm. For more info, click here.