Interview with Michelle Matlock
Tell us about your character, Ladybug (Coccinelle).
I love my costume! It’s perfect for the character—bright, round, and colorful. Ladybug is the romantic of the show. She’s very playful. She’s looking for love. Ladybug starts out alone, but she’s patient, and has faith she will find love. I think she represents hope.
What’s Ovo’s “plot”?
A community of bugs wakes up to find a stranger, Foreigner, A City Fly, arriving with an enormous egg. Flipo, the chief of the community, quickly steals it from Foreigner. In the insect world, Ovo is a precious gift symbolizing the cycle of life, abundance, and love. Ladybug and Foreigner immediately fall for each other, and spend the rest of the show trying to ignite that love. Master Flipo does not trust the Foreigner for his Ladybug, so he tests him. Will the Foreigner get his egg back? Will the Ladybug find her true love? Will Ovo reveal its wonder? You can see it all unfold under the Big Top!
How varied is the cast of characters and their personalities?
There are 54 artists in the show, and each one has their own insect personality, and it really shows when you are watching the show. During the creation, the director was very persistent in making sure that each of us has our own distinct personalities, movements, and moments onstage.
You’ve had a varied background, and are also “out” personally. How do the National Shakespeare Conservatory; clown gigs; your one-woman show, The Mammy Project; and being out and proud all connect?
I just am. I feel blessed to have a varied life, and to love the things that I do. I want to do the things that bring joy and education to the world, and to those around me. All of the things that you mentioned above are my life. Nothing is forced or announced. It’s just me finding my joy and living my life. Yes, I am a woman, I am black, I am a classically trained actress, I am a clown, and I fall in love with women. All of these qualities are connected in me because I exist.
“Coccinelle” is French for “ladybug,” and the stage name of transsexual showgirl Jacques Dufresnoy in the 1950s. Coincidence?
When I told a friend from Israel that my character was “Coccinelle,” she had no idea it was French, and told me that this is what they call transgendered/transsexual people. I think it’s very cool and appropriate. When I put those eyelashes on as “La Coccinelle,” I feel like the biggest drag queen for sure. Diva! I love it!
What would you say is Ovo’s main message?
I believe that the message of Ovo is celebration, life, and love, no matter what kind of bug you are. We’re all bugs, ya know?
No matter who you love, you’re gonna love Ovo!
May 26-June 19
Grand Chapiteau, Mall of America