From performing locally in West End to taking the stage at Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival in Scotland, Brisbane artist Daniel Cabrera has had an interesting journey.
Cabrera studied film, television and photography at Queensland College of Art at Southbank, which inspired him to take a strong interest in self-portraiture. Who is Dani Cabs? was his first photographic series which highlighted the many different aspects of his personality, all performed under the moniker Dani Cabs.
“I had the dilemma of whether to remove the camera and just perform. However, I didn’t do this during my studies, as it just felt like such a big step to me,” Cabrera says.
Fast forward a few years to 2014, and Cabrera was convinced by his friends to take the lens away and perform on stage. He made his debut at the You Are Here Festival in Canberra, taking Who is Dani Cabs? to the stage.
“This was a storytelling show that was a sort of coming-of-age for me, as I grew up in an area where art was not really discussed … I am not a trained actor or comedian. I am just able to laugh at myself quite easily, and so through my shows I want to encourage people to not be so conventional,” explains Cabrera.
In 2015, he performed at a number of other festivals, including Anywhere Theatre Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It was his preparation for these festivals that cemented his connection with West End. During this time, Cabrera lived in the 4101 postcode, and honed his comedic performing skills at what was formerly known as the Boundary Street Markets.
After clearing out a space at the markets, and adding speakers, lights and a couch, Cabrera commanded a space which he says looked like a living room. “I’d sing, dance, do skits, invite people up on stage and interview them — I just practised things and acted on a whim.”
Cabrera says that the markets helped shape the performer he is today. “The Boundary Street Markets facilitated my ability to share and do things with my audience. I had access to an audience, but there were no doors to the front of the stage so I was completely exposed. It enabled me to find out what audiences liked and what they didn’t,” he explains.
Now taking his new show, Poncho Orange, to Edinburgh Fringe, Cabrera is looking forward to his next adventure. “It’s the biggest arts festival of its kind, so it will be an amazing, intense experience. With our shows we are constantly putting our hearts on the line — we don’t know how many people are going to show up,” Cabrera says.
However, he travels to Scotland with the confidence of West End behind him, as he returned to the suburb for two final Australian performances at The Bleachers on Boundary Street. Over two nights, 160 people came to see his shows. If this is any indication, he is destined for greatness in Edinburgh.
Words by Erin Ibbott | Images supplied by Dani Cabs