David Paul Jobling to Direct CANDY CHAMBERS FIFTY FOREVER! at 2014 Fringe World Festival, Feb 12-15
How often do you find yourself watching the bad girl and hoping things work out okay for her in the end? Like Stockard Channing in Grease or Kylie Minogue in Cut? This is the extraordinary world of cabaret and personality. Individuals in the spotlight shedding their skins like onions and revealing that life is the cabaret, hoping all along that you'll become an old chum. During this interview with Director David Paul Jobling and chanteuse Candy Chambers as they bring their talents together for Candy Chambers Fifty Forever we discussed perception and how the internet has changed the way we think.
Chambers hails from the southern regions of America, Jobling from the Australian outback. Both have their individual back stories but today they celebrate their second bite of the cherry together that is cabaret. Arguably the finest cabaret comes from the heart. The realities of life make up a common theme in cabaret and the pitch of those realities can take your breath away. The Liza Minnelli musical 'Cabaret' directed by Bob Fosse is a prime example, a template in fact of how great the genre can be. This is a tradition of entertainment that casts way back in history. There have always been entertainers singing their words, the words of others, to unpack the troubles from their kit bags, shoulder bags and backpacks. Prisoners of war, university students, family tradition, many groups socially participate in the ritual of a regular cabaret style performance to let it all hang out and mock their fathers as it were.
Traditional cabaret has an opportunity or two for the audience to participate in a song, without a karaoke machine or video projection in sight. It brings the audience along on a ride that can prickle as much as tickle.
Jobling, the director of 'Candy Chambers Fifty Forever!' a cabaret show on the bill of the 2014 Fringe World Festival in February says, "Cabaret is a great tradition. People completely fell for Candy in her first cabaret 'Bittersweet,' during the 2006 Feast Festival. Then there were other matters to attend to, but in 2013 she was back at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this time. Certainly it was that original show that gave pause to all who saw it. Candy Chambers told her life story in song and dance and she was amazing."
To say chanteuse Miss Candy Chambers has led a complicated and interesting life is to underplay the chasms of emotion her story provokes. To some it continues to be an outrage that a woman whose early celebrity arose from the adult entertainment industry is free to sing on the cabaret stage. "I am free. That's the point," says the charming Candy Chambers herself. "I've done my time. It's no secret. Why would you bother to try to keep something so fundamental to your attraction as your early works hidden from view, even the stinkers; none of them were released in scratch'n'sniff so we can all relax. There's an opening for some healing right there I think. Stretch the tension out of your stiff muscles now. I haven't yet had the pleasure of working with John Waters but my openings remain ever available to him and if he doesn't know that, he should know it," she says.
Jobling admits Chambers has a 'colourful background' but believes it's no different than many talented individuals who recreate personal stories of overcoming adversity in song; he appreciates it for 'elements of tradition of cabaret' and explains, "I think a person pays for the crime when they do the time. That's the way it's set up to work and I believe Candy is a rehabilitated woman. Some argue it was a crime that she was even convicted and I could easily stand on that side of the line were it drawn in the sand but this isn't about all of that; I'm focused on seeing the world premiere hit the audience's G spot," he adds, "their giggle spot that is."
David Paul Jobling's work includes everything from acting as a body double for film maker George Lucas through to briefly appearing in 'Love My Way' with Australia's television sweetheart Asher Keddie and NIDA cohort Steven Vidler who appeared in one of Jobling's first plays, "Onkaparinga River". Jobling has busied himself since graduating from NIDA's Playwright Studio and sitcom classes at AFTRS. His most recent endeavours include an exhibition of his original screen prints and a production entitled "Last Days On Earth" for the Feast Festival in Adelaide, "We considered Candy for a couple of the roles in Last Days, she would have been perfect but we were well served by Jamie Jewell in the end and the production was a success," says Jobling.
"Encouraging an artist to embrace their present is what I'm about. Working with Candy is always productive. She does work very hard to get the program just so, and then some. We all do; like any artist there's an evolution. Candy is mature and she celebrates maturity, femininity, men, singularity, she entertains and shares fragments of her life but there is a point one arrives at in life where it seems you're on top of all the garbage as far as the eye can see and that's exactly where you want to remain forevermore. That's where she arrived when she turned fifty, it really dawned on her. It worked so well she's remained fifty since. A woman's prerogative; I applaud her for it," says Jobling.
This life journey includes working in the adult entertainment industry at a time when video was killing the celluloid star, a time depicted in films from the male perspective by Val Kilmer in 'Wonderland', Mark Wahlberg in 'Boogie Nights' and the female most recently via Amanda Seyfried in 'Lovelace'.
"I'm personally grateful that the internet wasn't around making a dam of all my lifelong appearances in court. That would be a nightmare," says Jobling.
That other Bob Fosse film 'Star 80' saw Eric Roberts snuff Mariel Hemingway out. How does that porn star journey so often ending in tragedy fit into Cabaret? Isn't it more akin to those rock'n'roll shooting-stars, great shining candles snuffed out? Flashy firecrackers like Joplin and Hendrix, the dead end tragedy of their lives sets an expectation that is challenged by the journey of our Miss Candy Chambers. She has resurrected her life from the ashes rather than blown it to smithereens.
"The key is in the name," explains Jobling, "could it handle the added Woody Allen style subtitle, 'Everything you ever wanted to know about Candy but were afraid to ask'? Unnecessary because the scope is wider; that's where we are both united performer and director. It's universal. You reach a point in life where universality starts to make sense and things become clearer. That's a time to celebrate. Imagine being incarcerated and then set free to fulfil your life dream? Imagine."
"The point is this, you have a woman who sings songs that she relates to in ways that are informed by her life, but this is where she wants to be and she's not ashamed of how she got to this point of comprehension because if you hold on to your dreams in life and accept the reality that surrounds you ways to overcome adversity will present themselves. You can and will reach a moment where everything is clear and you can see," he adds.
"Years ago I worked with an actor at the Sydney Theatre Company, we were developing a character. At the time we had the great luxury of working on character development for a couple of months and developing our show that way. Between then and now I've had other opportunities to work on characters and the development of them. Candy and I have known each other for some years now and I think we've shorthand we use in the process of creating a new show," he says, "I started creating characters for kids, so at Sydney Theatre Company it was a dog, working with Candy, well, I wouldn't want to give trade secrets away but I'll say this, I took the actor playing the dog to a dog pound and left him locked in a cage with a collection of stray dogs for an hour or so. The exercise provided the actor with an opportunity to observe the behaviour of the subject thematically. It's not as mean as it sounds," with a twinkle in his hazel green eyes.
The play Jobling refers to, 'Puppy Love: The tale of a dog' had a sold out season during its Sydney Festival run. Jobling has also been involved in the creation of several new musicals over the years so he seems to have a dab hand at creating theatre, he quietly confides, "I can't talk about character too much you know, because when she is present it simply doesn't work; for her to be spoken of... To me... She exists," he says. So apart from a mass of awards for work in the adult film industry what does Candy have? "Great pipes and swell moves. Seriously, she's adorable. You'll love her," Jobling beams.