Camel Camel is an original macabre comedy by international female duo Glitter Gizzard (Meghan Frank and Janessa Johnsrude) kicks off a 2015 west coast tour on August 22 at 9:00 p.m. at the Arcata Playhouse as part of the Creamery District Arts Festival. Sound design by local favorite musician Cory Goldman, costumes by Lynnie Horrigan, and creative consulting by Mooky Cornish of Cirque du Soliel fame.
Desert voyages! Slapstick! Androgyny! Matadors! Imagine Abbott and Costello meets David Lynch or Beckett meets the Golden Girls. The sublimely grotesque and classically charming vaudeville duo, The Camel Sisters, invite you into their delightfully bizarre stage show. Things begin to turn in on them when a nefarious death-worm appears and they struggle to escape. Though the sisters have their differences, dark secrets and competitive thirst for the spotlight, in the end they realize they only have one another. Born from the absurdist/surreal poetry of a 1920s Ukrainian prisoner Oleg Navolska, Camel Camel uses elements of bouffon, clown, physical theatre, vaudeville, and gender bending to lurch through dark, imagined worlds in a cascading theatrical event that is both haunting and hilarious. Cory Goldman’s original score creates a blooming tapestry of atmospheric music and the costumes, created by Lynnie Horrigan, have been described as “ingenious”(Edmonton Sun, 2014).
In 1923, Oleg Navolska was jailed for political activism and put on death-row in Kiev, Ukraine and wrote about a pair of strange sisters. After his execution, an obscure pile of poetry survived, describing the sister’s world – sometimes lucid, sometimes surreal, sometimes funny – these poems resound deeply with questions of identity, duality, and human relationships. His writings give a scattered glimpse into the mind of person facing death.
Glitter Gizzard used Oleg’s writing as inspiration to create a dark, fantastical world inhabited by the Camel Sisters, a vaudevillian sister duo. Glitter Gizzard fashioned the Camel Sisters after many such real-life sister acts from the popular era of vaudeville, finding an intriguing connection between the genre and surreal world of Oleg’s poetry. ‘Sister Acts’ ranged from the cute to the weird to the absolutely obscene with music, dances, odd talents, comedy, and magic...where seemingly anything could happen. Performers were often co-dependent for survival, both onstage and off, traveling the circuit hoping their acts would bring in enough money each night.
In 2014, Camel Camel premiered at Dell Arte’s 2014 Mad River Festival and continued on to the Canadian Fringe Circuit, earning a five-star review and sold-out houses at it’s first stop in Saskatoon. This year, following the Creamery Festival, Camel Camel will tour to the Victoria and Vancouver Fringe Festivals in BC, Canada, and to Portland, Oregon.
Frank and Johnsrude met in the MFA program at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, CA where they both continued on as faculty and staff. They created Glitter Gizzard with a mutual taste for the absurd, dark comedy and unabashed inventiveness. Camel Camel defies typical linear narration and pushes the boundaries of classic physical comedy. They created this original work with a fondness for eccentric character, body-padding and theatrical form-warping. Their mission is to explore performance with a sense of fun and ferocious curiosity.