Parents and children are in for a special treat at this year’s Lubbock Arts Festival. Margaret Clauder, a Dallas-based costumed storyteller/puppeteer/ventriloquist/magician will be bringing to town one of her most beloved characters, Astronomer Annie. Incorporating every aspect of her talents in a hilarious one-hour program, Clauder is sure to captivate children while simultaneously teaching them about our solar system.
Last week, Clauder was kind enough to join me for a Zoom meeting so I could learn more about her fascinating career. She began our meeting with a spontaneous improvised cyber comedy routine – frantically switching out backgrounds and fumbling to get her microphone working properly. I was rolling with laughter before we had even properly introduced ourselves. Clauder cannot help but be entertaining; clearly, it is something that has become second nature for her.
Clauder has been plying her trade for well upwards of thirty years and has long since cracked the code on how to harness the attention of otherwise easily distracted young audiences. She brings art to education in a way that inspires children to learn, describing her lessons as “sticky,” meaning that children retain the information presented in her programs effortlessly. Clauder loves her job: “The kids are absolutely wonderful. I have so much fun! Although, it’s hard work. Anyone who does this for a living has to work very hard to be good at it, absolutely. But I do it because I love doing it. The kids seem to really enjoy it and have fun.”
I was interested to learn that she has not always been a children’s entertainer. She holds a business degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and spent her early career as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Clauder’s career began to transform when she was given a children’s magic set as a premium before a regional sales meeting. Rather than passing the set along to a young person, she opened it and later found herself doing magic tricks for the other sales reps at cocktail hour. She even began working magic into her sales pitches.
Eventually, Clauder embraced her true calling and left her sales job behind. She branched out from magic into ventriloquism. She has been fortunate enough to study with the world-famous American ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (www.jeffdunham.com) and regularly attends the national ventriloquist convention. Clauder also found herself in clown college, mastering the art of falling, throwing, spitting (yes, spitting is apparently an art), juggling, stilt walking, and plate spinning. She says that she was too short to really be an effective stilt walker, but that she excelled in plate spinning.
Clauder has synthesized her eclectic background, extensive training, and years of experience to provide unforgettable educational experiences for children through her company, Margaret Clauder Presents. She performs her many characters (such as Mother Goose, The Bookworm, Mother Nature, Astronomer Annie, Masai Maggie, Patchy the Scarecrow, and more) at schools, public libraries, childcare facilities, and anywhere else groups of eager-to-learn children gather. During the past year of pandemic lockdown, Clauder was also inspired to produce a series of virtual programs, both live and recorded, which now allows her to reach an even larger audience.
Be sure to catch Clauder’s performance of Astronomer Annie: Reach for the Stars at the Lubbock Arts Festival on Saturday, July 24, 2021, from 3PM-4PM in the 2/3 Banquet Hall at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. In this delightful presentation, the audience will learn the names of the planets, the phases of the moon and the true story of “Caroline’s Comets.”
Doors open 30 minutes prior to the performance with general admission seating. Masks/face coverings are required, and social distancing will be in effect at this event. Performance is free with general admission to the Lubbock Arts Festival. For more information: lubbockartsfestival.org. To learn more about Margaret Clauder visit her website (www.mcpshows.com) or follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1151320271
Guest Blogger Jamison Driskill holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and dance from the University of Texas, a Master of Business Administration from Texas State University, and he is currently pursuing and Master of Fine Arts in arts administration in the School of Theatre and Dance at Texas Tech University (TTU). He was
recently honored with the Award for Excellence in the Institute of Theatre Journalism and Advocacy at The Kennedy Center Region Six American College Theatre Festival, and he is a regular contributor to subTEXT, the TTU School of Theatre and Dance’s monthly newsletter. Jamison is also a professional actor, director, and teacher for stage, television, and film. Most notably, Jamison costarred in season three, episode two of NBC’s Friday Night Lights as a struggling freshman quarterback. Stage acting credits include Prince Edward, the Black Prince of Wales, in the American professional premiere of Shakespeare’s (debatably) Edward III at The Bank Street Theatre in New York City’s Greenwich Village; Timothy in TOSOS II’s production of Doric Wilson’s Street Theatre about the Stonewall Riots in 1969; and Florizel in The Winter’s Tale at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, California. He directed a production of Aimee Gonzalez’s Larius Likler at the Hyde Park Theater in Austin, Texas, for the annual Frontera Fest in 2007 which was Recognized as “Best of the Fest.” Jamison also worked for several years as a private acting coach in Los Angeles specializing in audition preparation, helping actors land television roles/, commercials, and feature films. He has studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and spent a wonderful year working on scenes from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with the late Joseph Chaikin in his ongoing workshop in New York City.