The ABC of Feminism

Adelaide singer-songwriter Millicent Sarre will make her cabaret debut in June. Friendly Feminism for the Mild Mannered features an original score penned by Sarre who describes it as a “…crash-course in modern intersectional feminism”.

Millicent Sarre at Brick + Mortar Cafe | photo by Jennifer Trijo

As a passionate feminist who admits that she “avoids confrontation at all costs”, Sarre thinks that feminism is misunderstood, so she’s going to set the record straight.

She has chosen cabaret as the ideal medium to present her original work because of its intimacy. Sarre wanted to stage her music in a laid-back setting and develop a rapport with her audience.

Sarre is both excited and nervous about sharing her work and has had many ideas about how to cover such a broad topic. The challenges were to simultaneously condense these ideas into an hour-long cabaret, and just be herself.

“I think it’s a good step outside of my comfort zone and I am really proud of the songs that I’ve written.”

Millicent Sarre

Sarre hopes that her work will attract many people, ranging from those who are really excited about feminism to those who might be a bit more sceptical.

“I hope that there’s something in it for everyone and I’ve tried to write it with that in mind. The reason I called it ‘friendly feminism’ is that people hear about ‘angry feminism’ and I think that that gets a bit of a bad wrap. I thought maybe if it’s packaged in a way that’s more appealing to people who might otherwise be ‘on the fence’ then they might warm to the ideas more than they otherwise would.”

Millicent Sarre creator of Friendly Feminism for the Mild Mannered | photo by Jennifer Trijo

Sarre clarified ‘angry’ and ‘friendly’ feminism by explaining that the former is overt, assertive feminism which puts pressure on parliament resulting in legislation and policy change, whereas the latter is more about changing culture and garnering public support.

“I talk in the show about when I was at law school, I would get really annoyed by the fact that you could have all the legislative change in the world but unless there’s a cultural shift to go with it then nothing’s really going to change.”

“…friendly feminism is about changing hearts and minds and I think that that’s what we do with our art.”

-Millicent Sarre

Having grown up in a family of lawyers, she is trying to change culture through her art, and her commitment to social justice sees her handing out how-to-vote cards during today’s federal election.

“I am really passionate about social justice. Through my undergraduate [course] in law, I have learned a lot more about how our legal and political systems work so that’s definitely informed parts of the show.”

“We have such a great cabaret culture in Adelaide and June is the time when that’s all happening with the Cabaret Festival and the Cabaret Fringe. I’m really excited about all of the internationally-acclaimed acts that are coming but it would be really cool for audiences to take a chance on an up-and-coming cabaret artist.”

-Millicent Sarre
Millicent Sarre | photo by Jennifer Trijo

Among her musical influences are Sara Bareilles, Missy Higgins, Tim Minchin, and Lin Manuel-Miranda. Sarre explained that the satirical opening number ‘Throw on Your Khaki (and Smash the Patriarchy)’ was written in response to the negative stereotypes surrounding feminism.

Not only will she sing, but she will also rap. Sarre thinks rap an appropriate style within which to condense the breadth of topics related to feminism.

“A is for ally, someone like you and me, who sees an injustice and decides to intervene. B is for body positivity ‘cause all bodies are deserving of respect exactly as they are…”

-Millicent Sarre

Her song ‘The ABC of Feminism’ features a rap which she skilfully demonstrated during our interview at the Brick + Mortar Cafe in Norwood, ending in a momentary state of disbelief that she had just rapped in public.

Friendly Feminism for the Mild Mannered is playing June 8th, 9th, 15th at 8pm and June 21st at 9pm at Union Hall, 116 Grote Street, Adelaide (formerly ‘The Promethean’). Tickets $24-$28. The show contains sexual themes, violence, strong language. It is recommended for audiences aged 15+

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