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Cooking Up Cabaret: An Interview with John Jarboe and Sally Ollove

Posted July 23rd, 2018

“We could write a book, but we’re cabaret artists, so we decided the best way to understand the history and the present moment was to explore it through performance.” Sally Ollove, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret 

John Jarboe and The Bearded Ladies Cabaret are back with a new treat, The Poison Cookie Project. Artists will perform live in Do You Want A Cookie?, a curated show in this year’s Fringe Festival; individual performers present extended cabaret acts as Late Night Snacks; and audiences can learn more about the long history of cabaret in the Digital Fringe offering, The Poison Cookie Jar.

Jarboe, the founder and artistic director of the Bearded Ladies, is one of FringeArts’s most frequent collaborators, serving as host and curator of our monthly series Get Pegged Cabaret. Together with Sally Ollove, the group’s associate artistic director and dramaturg, the Bearded Ladies will present an international cast of cabaret performers who trace the role of cabaret in community building throughout history and its heightened importance in today’s world. Like a poison cookie, this performance will tempt the audience with outrageous costumes and innovative collaborations, and lead them to consider art’s place in society and what it means to give visibility to sometimes hidden communities.

We asked Jarboe and Ollove about the evolution of this enticing project and about what it’s like to assemble such a diverse cast of performers into one room.

FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration for Do You Want A Cookie? and The Poison Cookie Jar?

John Jarboe: I realized in 2013 that I was a practicing cabaret artist, but I didn’t really know what cabaret was or where it came from. Since much of my work straddles the personal and the political, I also wanted to know what the political roots of the form were. How was it used in relationship to political and social crises? Who are my ancestors? What did they do?

Sally Ollove: Once we began looking for those answers, we realized pretty quickly that resources were scarce. There are a number of great books about specific moments in cabaret history, but very few that look at the form across geography and time, and none that extend into a close look at what’s happening in cabaret today. We could write a book, but we’re cabaret artists, so we decided the best way to understand the history and the present moment was to explore it through performance.

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