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Entries in Emma Clair Ford (10)


Laugh Until I Cry

Melbourne cabaret darling Emma Clair Ford returns to The Butterfly Club this week with a brand new series of musings on the bewildering undertaking of adulthood.

Between slumber and consciousness, Emma delights in crystal clear revelations and nostalgic wanderings, then delves into personal uncertainty of seemingly catastrophic proportions.

Join this super songstress as she navigates her way through a night of hope, fear, love, expectation, and poorly constructed to do lists.

Emma’s previous shows have been narrative based, ‘Lila Gray’ was character driven and ‘Butterscotch’ was a fantastical coming of age story.

But as she describes the new show - “Laugh Until I Cry is quite personal, centering around my experiences with anxiety and the expectations we have of what our ‘grown up’ life should look like. But I approach it with a sense of humour - focussing on the fact that the niggly, nasty thoughts that sometimes keep us awake at night don’t make us crazy, they make us human.”

Emma has also placed a heavier focus on the music in this show, which she has developed with the amazing Vicky Jacobs.
With a blend of sharp storytelling, evocative prose and sumptuous jazz inspired songs, Laugh Until I Cry features music by George Gershwin, The Beatles, Adele, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and more. 


Emma Clair Ford’s ‘Laugh Until I Cry’

The Butterfly Club - Carson Place, Melbourne

Wednesday March 4th - Sunday March 8th, 2015 (8pm Wed/Sun, 9pm Thurs/Fri/Sat)

Tickets: or 9663 8107 

$30 Full, $26 Conc, $25 Preview (Wed), $24 Group (8+) 


Review: Lists of Invisible Things

Contributed by Nikki Aitken.



Caity Fowler in ‘Lists Of Invisible Things’ is a magical piece of cabaret that invites the audience to turn the world on its head and experience it with child-like wonderment.

We are presented with characters from a family at different stages in time and space, sometimes full of joy and sometimes wanting for more. The Mother who has endless love for her daughter ‘I will Love You Always’, the Aunty who wishes for a good dose of plastic surgery ‘Happy People’, and the boyfriend who has Alice’s matching Invisible list ‘But I Don’t’.

‘Alice’ holds her thoughts in jars (placed all over the stage) when they are ‘too big to fit inside her’. She can smell feelings, see sound in colour and taste words. This character drives the story forward. Each of the other characters, also played by Fowler reveal their relationship with ‘Alice’ only at the end. This was executed so intelligently that it was completely unexpected and brought me to tears. 

Fowler is an engaging actress with a bell-like soprano voice that she manipulates for each character effortlessly. Her original songs are lyrically and melodically beautiful. They vary in style and suit each moment perfectly. The stand out song is ‘Be Still’ which begs us to see the beauty in existence.  Emma Clair Ford directed this piece graciously, using the  Butterfly Club space to create multiple areas giving it the sense of largesse. It was visually interesting and gave each character their own voice and life. Jen Kingwell played keys, glockenspiel and computer with finesse supporting Fowler throughout. 

This is an enchanting and clever cabaret both hilarious and tragic, all I could have wanted delivered truthfully by a compelling performer. 

Lists of Invisible Things

Caity Fowler, accompanied by Jen Kingwell

The Butterfly Club

Season closed.


Related articles:

Review - Sheila Bradley in The Cat, The Rat & Me

Review: Geppetto (Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach) Present ‘An End To Dreaming’

The Melbourne Cabaret Festival: Oh…it’s ON!


Interview: A Songstress weaves imagination and reality



Cabaret comes in many forms, and Melbourne based artist and Short + Sweet Cabaret Festival director Emma Clair Ford has created her own unique, rich blend of sweet and salty imagination, reality and experience. Her solo show Lila Gray was a smash hit last year and was nominated for Best Cabaret category for the Adelaide Fringe Awards. She returns to the Adelaide with her new show BUTTERSCOTCH, a show about a woman and her dreamy, fantastical but at times sobering journey. As she gets ready for her preview season at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne and debut season for the CABfringe program as part of the Adelaide Fringe, Emma gives us a little taste of her show and discusses cabaret.


What kind of adventure are you going to take your audience that come to BUTTERSCOTCH on?

BUTTERSCOTCH is an adventure full of travel, romance, and innocent ideals, with a big side serve of imagination. It tells the tale of a woman who has been quite sheltered, and is suddenly faced with a series of darkly comical, but potentially traumatic happenings.

It’s about hearing the hard truths and not losing hope; trying to hold onto childhood idealism in a sometimes crazy and scary grown up world.

It’s an abstract coming of age story, about shaping the memories of our past to suit our present self.

This is a show full to the brim with swings, pet rabbits, hot air balloons, falling in love with people, places, songs, night time, archaeology, time travel, the prevention of oceanic pollution, trams, trees, clouds, diving for pearls, new socks, years, days, moments, experience!

How did you come up with the idea for your show?

From personal experience and my own (sometimes naïve!) ideals.

It includes some ‘augmented’ autobiographical stories – I’ve gotten myself into some pretty obscure situations over the years! So I did some research into what people found most fascinating about these stories, and I whittled them down to become the skeleton of BUTTERSCOTCH.

It toys with the desire to go back to a time when things were simpler and each experience was a first. But of course, once we are adults, we can only ever understand the world from an adult perspective. It’s bittersweet, really.


What did you enjoy most about writing it?

The heightened nature of the text and the tales – the fantastical twists and turns, but mostly being able to tell versions of my own stories. It is a very exciting but exposing thing to do!


What did you spend the most time on while creating this show?

Really giving my imagination and creative spirit a good work out on a daily basis. It’s been an extremely fun, but at times an emotional process.


Your previous show LILA GRAY had brilliant song arrangements. For BUTTERSCOTCH, how did you choose and arrange your songs? 

The stories always come first for me. My song choices are based on the content of the text. I never use a song exclusively because I like it. It has to help accelerate the story telling. 

The wonderful Vicky Jacobs has worked as my musical director and arranger on my last three solo shows. She is a brilliant resource, and incredible musician and always puts the story first, which is important to me.

Music is there to indulge the atmosphere of the show, but it also has to be relevant to the message.


Your cabaret shows have big theatrical element to them. How do you keep the connection with the audience and make it personal while performing the non-traditional style of cabaret? 

It is my job to keep the audience engaged for the duration of a performance. You can really tell when you’ve lost people. While my style of cabaret is less ‘audience participation’ and interaction, I aim to take them on a journey, with universally relatable themes, and keep them involved through good old-fashioned storytelling. And eye contact – I like to have the house lights up a little during my shows so I can look people in the eye. It feels more honest and connected, and also gives me the chance to gauge reactions.


You’ve been the director of Short+Sweet Cabaret for the last two years. In what ways do you think having that experience affect you as a performer and how you develop your shows? 

As festival director, I’ve had the chance to work with so many brilliant artists over the past few years, and all of them have such drastically different styles both in their performance, and in their process. Being exposed to that kind of creative diversity has given me more confidence that my own processes are valid, and that we all invent and express our stories in our own unique ways.


What is cabaret to you? 

Storytelling, music and songs with a social or political message in whichever way you choose to express it.


How did you discover cabaret?

There was a cabaret component to my university curriculum. It was the first time I’d ever written something for myself, and I was in my element! I found it to be such a satisfying form of authentic, personal creativity - I fell in love with the genre straight away.


Who would you credit as having the biggest influence on you as a performer and why?

My colleagues from drama school, particularly the Redroom Theatre company- they are an incredibly dedicated, passionate, innovative and hard working bunch of performers and creators. They inspired me everyday during my studies, and still do. We have a strong, supportive community and I feel blessed to be part of it.


How would you describe the current Australian cabaret scene?

Thrilling, blossoming, accessible. Hooray for artistic communities! 



BUTTERSCOTCH’s preview season will open at The Butterfly Club on February 22 and will close on the 23rd. Click here for more information and bookings.

The show will debut for the CABfringe program as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2012 and will be performed at La Boheme on March 6-11.

For more information and bookings, click here




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Expose Yourself in Cabaret

Porcelain Punch, photographed by Rebecca Humphries.

“I had never performed in, nor written a cabaret before, so I thought the Short and Sweet Cabaret Festival would be a great opportunity to perform my work in front of an audience. The experience was exhilarating! Not only was it organized so incredibly smoothly, but the support from the rest of the cast, crew and production was amazing. I had only ever dared to call myself an actress; this festival has inspired and encouraged me to consider the other possibilities of writing, producing and even singing! This festival was my playground to test the boundaries of my self devised work and it was honestly the best festival I’ve ever been a part of.” 

Hannah Williams, winner of the 2010 Short+Sweet Cabaret People’s Choice Award




Submissions are now open for the cabaret version of the world’s most successful showcase event. Short+Sweet Cabaret 2011 will be held at Chapel Off Chapel from October 26th to November 6th under the stewardship of Festival Director Emma Clair Ford.

Vaudeville, Burlesque, Comedy, Storytelling, Cabaret Noir – whatever your inclination, now is your chance. All forms of cabaret are encouraged to apply and we are particularly looking for fresh and well thought out ideas.

Short+Sweet provides a platform for artists to present their latest work, and acts as a launching pad to recognition and further opportunities.


To enter a submission, simply email a description (100 words or less) of your 10 minute cabaret concept to together with your name, phone number, cast/creatives, and a list of any props, technical and musical requirements.

Submissions close on Friday September 9th 2011.

For more information please visit


Related posts:

Short+Sweet Cabaret 2010 Winners

Chant des Catacombes - Not so Short, but just as Sweet

Chant des Catacombes - Not so Short, but just as Sweet


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Adelaide Fringe 2011: Lila Gray reviewed



Melbourne-based actor, writer, cabaret performer and Director of Short + Sweet Cabaret Emma Clair Ford brought her acclaimed show Lila Gray to Adelaide Fringe 2011. Her opening night show received a five-star review in The Advertiser. 

She has five more shows left for the Adelaide Fringe 2011 season - 4th, 8th, 9th and 11th of March, 6:30pm at The Bunka, Austral Hotel 205 Rundle Street, Adelaide.  Click here or call 1300 FRINGE (374 643) for bookings.



The Advertiser

This one woman cabaret show is a delight. From the moment Lila walks in from the back of the crowd, her charm, effortless storytelling and transition from old tunes to a rewriting of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and modern anthems including a little bit of Britney Spears, had us hooked.

Read full review by Helene Sobolewski here.


Lena Nobuhara

Associate Editor, Cabaret Confessional


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