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DALLAS SOLO FEST 2019

Carmel Clavin

Solo Fest Q&A: Carmel Clavin

Next in our interviews with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest, Virginia-based Carmel Clavin, who brings her show The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden.



published Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Editor's Note: The 2019 Dallas Solo Fest runs June 6-16 at Theatre Too, the downstairs space of Theatre Three in Dallas' The Quadrangle. Our coverage of the event will include interviews with all eight artists, and we'll also review each show as well. To see more info about the performers and their shows, as well as info on tickets, go here. All of our DSF coverage appears in a special section on TheaterJones. You can click the Dallas Solo Fest 2019 section title at the top of this page to see more articles. A full schedule of the festival appears at the bottom of this interview.

In this one: Carmel Clavin, who will present The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 13.

 

Photo: Indulge Images
Carmel Clavin

Dallas — Self-identified “GlamourHobo” Carmel Clavin is an artist constantly on the move.  Her storytelling cabaret The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden has already made it to the other side of the world —the show won “Most Innovative Show” at New Zealand Fringe and Adelaide Fringe — but savvy Dallasites might catch it at Dallas Solo Fest’s second weekend before she adventures to who-knows-where next. We chatted with her via email.

 

TheaterJones: The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden is new to Dallas but you've been touring it for a while now. Can you tell us a little about the piece? Has it changed or developed at all as you've toured it? 

The official blurb about the show:

A storytelling cabaret. Discover this woman, once flesh and blood like you, who tangled with the Wizard of the Electric Age and lost her voice to a body of brass. This is her story of loss, love, triumph, and catastrophic whimsy. Will your spark wake her? The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden emits her music right from her person by way of a wearable looping device integrated into her clothing. She's got no strings to hold her down as she spins a scene spanning over 100 years, several love affairs, wars, and one fateful run in with a resourceful megalomaniac known as Thomas Edison.

Extended Explanation: The show is about the using our voice to connect with one another, sing our stories, and resist entropy. It speaks out against capitalism, sexism, and speaks up for all forms of love and human connection.

The opportunity to refine and flex the show at each performance has created a resilient story. Because the show is about 40 percent improvised according to that moment's circumstances, people tend to come back over and over. And the conversation I’ve started having with the audience at the end of the shows is wonderful. I get to hear what they are picking up and taking with them.

 

You've cited cabaret as a major influence on this performance and your work in general. How did you personally discover cabaret, and what about it speaks to you or feels useful in your storytelling?

I have no definitive moment when I realized what cabaret was but I was always drawn to the floor show sequences in old movies. Even in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom I was mesmerized by the spectacle occurring within arm’s reach of the audience. I learned more and about the rise of what we know as cabaret in the beginning of the 20th century as I got older. That these were close intimate spaces meant to create moments of dialogue with the patronage, meant to satirize and call attention to ugly and wonderful things in the world.

I've always filed away Eartha Kitt's explanation of cabaret being a place to talk to and not talk at an audience. That is so fundamental and earth-shattering at the same time. Cabaret spaces had to be close so you could have a conversation — you can't converse and conspire with someone stationed on the other end of the cultural banquet table in the dark with glorious center pieces blocking your eye contact.

 

You've described yourself as "GlamourHobo." Please do elaborate.

Ha! A hobo (stemming from the phrase “homeward bound”) is a human who travels for work. As a touring performer that exactly sums up my work patterns. I go out to where the work is, sometimes for whole seasons, with my bindle of glamour tubes (read: beaded dresses) in constant search of pie and friendly hosts. The Glamour part comes from the fact that this work is WORK. Glamour means "illusion." It is an absolute trick of the light that the performer life is effortless or easy. It’s certainly adventurous and wonderful at times. But snakegoddamn if it isn't difficult, sweaty, lonely, expensive, and heartbreaking as well.

 

Though you travel so widely, you have strong creative roots in Virginia.  As you visit other cities and arts communities, what does it teach you about your own artistic home? Are you able to identify any unique strengths or challenges of your Virginian artistic community compared to those that you've visited?

I'm fairly new to Virginia in the grand scheme of things, actually. I've been based here for 10 years producing Teacup Cabarets and busking all the way to Fringe Festivals but I'm originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and I've been a traveler my entire life. I've lived overseas in the Pacific and Europe and all of those places, my World Citizenry, has shaped my perspective. 

 

You've spoken about needing to keep your "Heart Well" full — what does that mean to you? As an artist, what drains it the most, and how do you replenish it?

The Heart Well is not an exhaustive resource to constantly pump art into material reality. It's replenished by engaging with and experiencing other art and creations that are not my own, and connecting on the most basic of levels with other humans. It is depleted by excessive time using Excel, working with unreliable people, doing marketing work that is not generative, and tea deficit. 

I also sometimes call it "filling my teacup." Tea and tea paraphernalia are very on brand for me.

 

What is your hope for the Heart Wells of the The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden audiences?

I want them to leave with their cosmic teacups sloshing over and perhaps delicately cracked. I sincerely hope for them to be brimming and churning by the end. I hope they realize they are connected by a secret cistern during the show and recognize their shared experience.

 

 

DALLAS SOLO FEST 2019 SCHEDULE

 

Thursday, June 6

7:00 pm... Sexology: The Musical! by Melanie Moseley

8:30 pm...  Girl Dad by Justin Lemieux

 

Friday, June 7

7:00 pm...  Cyrano A-Go-Go by Brad McEntire

8:30 pm...  Sexology: The Musical! by Melanie Moseley

10:00 pm... Based on Actual Events by Jaye Lee Vocque

Saturday, June 8

5:30 pm... Cyrano A-Go-Go by Brad McEntire

7:00 pm... Based on Actual Events by Jaye Lee Vocque

8:30 pm...  Critical, Darling! by Brigham Mosley

10:00 pm... Sexology: The Musical! by Melanie Moseley

 

Sunday, June 9

3:00 pm... Based on Actual Events by Jaye Lee Vocque

5:30 pm... Critical, Darling! by Brigham Mosley

7:00 pm... Cyrano A-Go-Go by Brad McEntire

 

Thursday, June 13 

7:00 pm... The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden by Carmel Clavin

​8:30 pm... Who You Calling a Bitch?!? By Sacha Elie

 

 

Friday, June 14

7:00 pm... Girl Dad by Justin Lemieux

8:30 pm... Keeping Up with the Jorgensons by Jeremy Julian Greco

10:00 pm... The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden by Carmel Clavin

Saturday, June 15

5:30 pm...  The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden by Carmel Clavin

7:00 pm... Who You Calling a Bitch?!? By Sacha Elie

8:30 pm... Critical, Darling! by Brigham Mosley

10:00 pm... Keeping Up with the Jorgensons by Jeremy Julian Greco

 

Sunday, June 16

3:00 pm... Keeping Up with the Jorgensons by Jeremy Julian Greco

5:30 pm... Who You Calling a Bitch?!? By Sacha Elie

7:00 pm...  ​ Girl Dad by Justin Lemieux Thanks For Reading





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Solo Fest Q&A: Carmel Clavin
Next in our interviews with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest, Virginia-based Carmel Clavin, who brings her show The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden.
by Haley Nelson

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