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Clare Cavanagh - Interview

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by Tema (subscribe)
Write because you want to, not because you have to.
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Photography by Chloe Angelo


It's quite obvious that Clare Cavanagh has a strong love and passion for pursuing improv and comedy and this bright Sydney-based comedienne will be bringing to the Adelaide Fringe her debut solo show Literally for just 8 days!

A show around rejecting ironic detachment, celebrating teenage girls and generally being a bit over the top (not that anything is wrong with that), Literally will be a show that a lot of people will be able to connect and resonate with on a very high level.

I was fortunate enough to learn of Cavanagh's show through word of mouth and given how the title of her show is a word that I use a bit too often (guilty!), I was curious to learn all about her show - have a read of our exchange below:

Tema: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Clare?
Clare: Here's two truths and one lie:
I'm a comedian who writes and performs characters and sketches, with a background is in improvised comedy.
I'm very tall - almost 7 feet!
I'm from Sydney.


Tema: What made you want to get into the performing arts industry?
Clare: I've always loved performing and being silly. After high school, I studied law for a few years, until I figured out that I enjoyed the dramatic declarations I thought lawyers made, rather than the reality, which is writing contracts. When I saw an improv show, I realised that improv was the kind of art I wanted to make and do, because it's collaborative, supportive, and quite dumb.

Tema: What inspired you to come up with the concept of your show Literally?
Clare: Literally is a character and improv comedy show about people who care about stuff that really doesn't matter. I think people who care deeply and are passionate are cool, so I wrote a show which celebrates these kinds of characters!

Tema: Is it just you who will be running / performing at your show, or will you have a team of performers at Literally?
Clare: It's just me up on stage, but I've developed the show with my director Bridie Connell (you might have seen her on TV's Tonightly with Tom Ballard and Whose Line is it Anyway? Australia). Because I'm an improviser, I like to work with someone in my performances, so I do get the audience involved. But I only get people up who want to and it is always very, very fun.

Tema: How long have you been part of the comedy industry? How have you found your involvement in this industry so far?
Clare: I got into comedy through improv, which I started almost five years ago, and I've been working on solo stuff for the last two years. I absolutely love this industry! Improv, in particular, is highly collaborative, because you need to trust the other people you're on stage with, otherwise the show just falls in a heap. I've found that approach to creating comedy has bled into the way people treat each other offstage as well. Everyone I've met through Fringe festivals has been so lovely and giving, and my improv theatre at home (Improv Theatre Sydney) is a wonderfully supportive place to create silly comedy.

Tema: What can people expect from attending your show, literally speaking (of course!)?
Clare: Expect to meet a revolutionary school captain, who is attempting a coup d'etat at lunchtime, social anxiety personified, and a few too many The Black Eyed Peas references (honestly, their Elephunk album has some serious bangers!).

Tema: How would you explain your performance to someone who has never been to your show before?
Clare: Literally features a bunch of big personalities (all played by me) just trying to have a good time. Think of the wild enthusiasm of The Wiggles, coupled with the bleakness and commitment of Daniel Day-Lewis.

Tema: What is your ideal target audience for your show Literally?
Clare: Anyone keen to see something a bit different from your average stand up, anyone who is awkward at parties, anyone who likes laughing.

Tema: How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)?
What made you want to be a part of the AF?

Clare: A couple of years ago, my comedy pals in Sydney told me about this cool and huge festival called Adelaide Fringe. So after performing my debut solo show at the Sydney Fringe in 2017, I decided to tour it to Adelaide. I was keen to meet other artists, showcase my work to an audience who didn't know me and have a good time! Fringe definitely delivered on all fronts.

Tema: How many years have you been involved with the AF? How have found the experience(s) of being involved with the AF?
Clare: This will be my second time at the Adelaide Fringe and I'm so excited to be coming back! I performed my debut solo show at the Fringe last year and I met so many incredible artists from all over Australia and the world. The cool thing about this festival is how supportive everyone is - the audiences, the artists and the Fringe team.

Tema: What are you anticipating from the AF this year?
Clare: Lots of late nights, lots of new comedy, and lots of coffees from Exchange.

Tema: Have you taken your performance interstate / overseas? If so, where have you performed and what has that experience been like?
Clare: I took Literally to Melbourne Fringe last year, which was super fun, and after Adelaide Fringe, I'm heading to Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the first time, and then back home to the Sydney Comedy Festival.
In Sydney, I have an improv group called Confetti Gun, and the past two years we've travelled to New York City to perform in the Del Close Marathon - an improvised comedy festival. It's hosted by Amy Poehler's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and is the most incredible weekend because they pack hundreds of shows into 52 hours. You sleep, eat and drink improv.


Clare Cavanagh: Literally will be performing at The National Wine Centre from February 14 - February 22.

Book your tickets here and feel free to connect with Clare via her social media platforms: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter
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When: Adelaide Fringe season
Where: National Wine Centre
Cost: $18 - $22
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