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ArtKeeper Checking Out: Dani Cabs

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ArtKeeper Checking Out: Dani Cabs

​In what’s felt like a flash, the first iteration of HOTA’s ArtKeeper Program​ has come to a close.

A program that started with the goal of giving four artists a spot on HOTA’s payroll during the pandemic, we couldn’t image how it would grow to have such an impact on our organisation.

We’re consistently reminded by HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke that we cannot be the Home of the Arts without artists. The reminder has become the unofficial motto dancing around the minds of all HOTA staff members and visitors who take a seat at the precinct.

The ArtKeeper program has carried this motto at its heart and provided a steppingstone for more investment, more opportunity, and, hopefully, more organisations taking up the challenge to provide similar programs for artists. Having kept you updated on the progress of our artists, it’s time we have one final check-in before they move on to bigger and brighter things


#Checking Out with Dani Cabs

The man. The myth. The legend. We started our check-ins with Dani Cabs, so it feels natural to start our conclusions with him.

Coming to HOTA, Dani had the goal of resurrecting a beloved character of his own creation – Poncho Orange.

Born in 2016, it was time for Poncho to make his return to the stage with a new story to tell and some more wisdom to impart to his adoring audiences. Cheeky, feather-ruffling, and charmingly thought provoking, Poncho: Keep it Up! was born.

From early rambling on a page, to a fully fledged show, debuting at GC Laughs Festival, Dani Cabs has blown us away with all that he’s been able to create in five months.

The beginnings of something big, here’s a final check-in with Dani Cabs.


You know the drill. 10 words or less – sum up the experience.

DC: Still trying repeatedly, failing better than before, always a clown.


You started ArtKeeper with a very clear outcome in mind – to create a new, stage-ready show for your alter-ego, Poncho Orange. When and where can audiences see the result? Were there any surprises along the way?

DC: Surprises?! Of course!! What I noticed first by being a part of ArtKeeper and connected to an institution like HOTA was that venues, festivals and producers were immediately interested in my show – that I hadn’t made yet. Five months felt like one, it seemed the more time I had the more I wanted the show to grow, which meant in the end I didn’t have much time at all. I’m also surprised at the strong message I feel lives within my script, I came into the residency wanting to say something but never thought I’d be this vocal. I’m a happy hoppy little chippy chappy choppy for that last surprise.

Oh and I was so surprised at how resourceful HOTA Producer Ashleigh Wheeler can be….I actually think she is a triplet and they are all working at HOTA under the one name.

You can catch Poncho: Keep It Up! at the following festivals and theatres:

The Premiere at HOTA

The Premiere at HOTA

See Poncho: Keep it Up! for the very first time.

17 Mar

Poncho goes to Malthouse Theatre

Poncho goes to Malthouse Theatre

As part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival

12-24 Apr

Poncho does the Brisbane Powerhouse

Poncho does the Brisbane Powerhouse

The show rolls on to Brisbane.

24-29 May

You spent time both online and in person with Artist Provocateur, Wesley Enoch AM, as part of the ArtKeeper program. What effect did that have on your project, your practice or your ArtKeeper experience?

DC: My experience with Wesley was positive across the board. I approached the creation of Poncho: Keep It Up! very differently to how I had developed my previous shows. I saw this new show as a piece of theatre, with a script and a story arc, rather than a playful sketch comedy that was developed through improvisation in front of audiences. Wesley, a highly decorated playwright, provided a guide for me in a world that seemed quite foreign. He helped set achievable writing goals, reviewed rehearsal material, provided feedback but most importantly reassured me that I had the tools needed to achieve what I set out to do, I just had to trust in my process. That lack of trust of my own process is what limits me from creating more regularly, my body is my art so the level of vulnerability I feel when creating can be quite intense, which leads to self-doubt and in those moments it’s a paddle battle to get upstream. So having someone as experienced and present as Wesley reassure me that I could get to where I was going was extremely helpful on all fronts.

I feel I understand myself, my art, my strengths, weaknesses and my flow so much better after these last five months and that’s thanks in large part to Wesley.


If you were to provide advice to another Artist who was just about to embark on the ArtKeeper program, what would you say? How could they make the best of the opportunity?

DC: Work to your own rhythm – HOTA were extremely accepting of that, and it means you’ll get the best out of what you have to give. Be kind to yourself, set realistic goals and enjoy your time being an employed artist because it flies by in a jiffy jaffaroonie. Also keep a good jumper in the studio because it can get cold, maybe even a pair of Ugg boots (no sheep were harmed in the making of said boots). Eat well and be good to your mother.

#Follow Dani Cabs


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HOTA proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.

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