The Poison Cookie Jar
The Bearded Ladies Cabaret
September 6-September 23
“Dangerously queer as well as outrageous and fun, and possibly even politically threatening.” Philadelphia Gay News
“Human connections are vital and that cabaret can foster those connections.” Sally Ollove
What if you could combine your favorite drag cabaret with a DIY YouTube cooking show? A multi-year study of the history of cabaret culminates with The Poison Cookie Jar, a light-hearted web project that serves as the perfect companion piece to the Bearded Ladies Cabaret’s live Festival show, Do You Want A Cookie?
Join host John Jarboe as he goes in search of the best cabaret cookie recipes throughout history and around the world. Part Julia Child, part Lost in Space, The Poison Cookie Jar illuminates what cabaret is and what it does to you. Come for the cat puns and cookie metaphors. Stay for earnest questions about the role of art in society.
Poison Cookie Jar is live on Instagram now.
Follow on Facebook and Instagram: @poisoncookiejar.
Major support for The Poison Cookie Jar has been provided to John Jarboe by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
About The Bearded Ladies Cabaret
The Bearded Ladies Cabaret is an interdisciplinary troupe of artists who reinvigorate and redefine the form of cabaret in the 21st century by fusing it with theater, opera, and dance. They play with nostalgia and humor to question the embedded social messages in popular culture and tackle the politics of gender, identity, and artistic invention with sparkle and wit. Their work has been seen all over Philadelphia including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Eastern State Penitentiary, Opera Philadelphia, the Wilma Theater, and FringeArts and they have brought their cabaret revolution to Miami, New Zealand, Seattle, Paris, Maryland, Delaware and New York City (Ars Nova, La Mama, and Joe’s Pub).
About John Jarboe
John Jarboe (she/he) is a cabaret artist, director, writer, historian, and host serving you revolution, herstory, queer community making, and a whole lot of glitter. He is the founding artistic director of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret. Going back to the interdisciplinary roots of cabaret, Jarboe is transforming opera, cabaret, and live performance from her home in Philadelphia, making work that is insistent on its liveness and interactivity, work that will make you sing, dance, clap and question. He plays host to a community of cabaret misfits from around the world, trying to stitch together the history of and practice of a much needed form.
About Sally Ollove
Sally Ollove (she) is a Philadelphia and Seattle based director and dramaturg, the associate artistic director of Philadelphia’s Bearded Ladies Cabaret, and as far as she knows, the world’s only self-identifying cabaret dramaturg. She believes in art that is silly and audacious, insists on its liveness, asks provocative questions, and provides space for the audience to fill. Formerly the literary manager at Arden Theatre Company, the resident dramaturg of Azuka Theater and programming director at the Rendezvous/Jewelbox Theater, Sally has served as faculty at Rowan University and University of the Arts and holds an MFA from the ART/MXAT Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. She recently authored an article on cabaret featured in TheaterForum.
Interview with John Jarboe and Sally Ollove
FringeArts: How has the piece evolved?
John Jarboe: This began as a personal exploration that then started involving all of The Bearded Ladies Company, especially our dramaturg and co-conceiver Sally Ollove. The project idea has spread and includes more and more people, and more and more complex questions.
Sally Ollove: Our own sense of history has evolved since we started the project. We began during the Obama administration. We were really looking for connections to this often forgotten or hard to find history and discovered many of the artists and movements we were most interested in were underground for a reason: they were in search of a safe space where they could either be themselves (especially for queer artists, women, and artists of color who were often overlooked by mainstream arts) or criticize dominant power structures. We were asking questions about what it meant to make a sometimes deliberately insular community more visible. We were sure of the value cabaret had in raising important social questions and helping audiences work through them.
Then the 2016 election happened. Like many other artists, our certainty about what we were doing came into question. Is cabaret necessary? Is it radical? At the same time, we were finding moments in the history that echoed these questions: sometimes when artists thought they were being edgy or provocative, they were inadvertently reinforcing cultural norms. Sometimes cabaret acts as a pressure valve for social tension, but does releasing that tension negate action?
So it was a dark time for us. In the past few months as we’ve begun working with different artists and thinking about the form, we’ve circled back to joy. We believe cabaret brings people together into a community in a way no other form can because of the centrality of the performer/audience relationship. That relationship opens up the audience to relate and be present with each other. We believe that human connections are vital and that cabaret can be a way to foster those connections.
FringeArts: Who have you looked for as performers—what qualities and styles do you think are important to represent?
John Jarboe: We have looked for artists who are politically engaged, historically engaged, and who work in or around the cabaret form. Artists who might self identify as misfits: inhibitors of the liminal spaces among more established art forms. Many of them have had to make their own spaces. This is going to be some radical shit.
Excerpt. Full interview coming soon to the FringeArts Blog.