Thursday, October 2, 2014


At last I get around to my final post...We come to the end of another great NY Clown Theatre Festival. I saw 14 shows and as usual, loved every minute of being there--inside and outside the theatre--meeting new faces, solidifying acquaintances into friendships, and reconnecting with friends and seeing colleagues from years past. If any performer is reading this, I want to say that I admire the courage it took to put your show out there to an audience often predominately made up of fellow clowns. Among other things, the festival is a chance to show each other the work we work hard to create, and to energize the art form we love. I know I am inspired.

During this festival, I kept a running count of recurring themes, props, instruments...and here is the final tally:

attempted suicides, 4 shows
ukuleles, 4 shows
single long-stem roses, 4 shows
musical saws, 2 shows
lost teeth, 3 shows

This list only includes shows I was able to attend. I heard there were more lost teeth and who knows what else, in shows I missed. What is evident is that ideas and themes reappear as they probably have been doing since the first performer stepped on a stage. The list represents a little something of the idea flow that runs through the current crop of clowning. It echoes the traditional past as it reflects the culture of the present, and that is as it should be. Thank you all who take the time to read this humble blog. Enormously understated huge thanks as always to Audrey Crabtree, without whom none of this would happen, and to her fearless crew who make the Festival run, to the incomparable Brick Theatre where it all unfolds, and thanks, especially, for the laughs. See ya.


BIG SHOES, SHORT TALES, Michelle Nicole Matlock, Performer, Seattle, WA
In a voiceover, Michelle narrates in third person her own story--this strikes me as brilliant, and works to full comic effect. It is a charm bracelet of tales (if you will), of her arrival in New York and subsequent struggles (and triumphs) as a starving, striving actor in the big city. Thanks to her artistic creativity and well-developed theatricality, Michelle's honest, down to earth performance is both stirring and funny. What is evident is a talented performer who knows how to connect with her audience. The ending comes too abruptly, leaving us wanting more. Something to look forward to, after this inspired start.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Vindlevoss -- will write more later--just go see this show on Sat 9/27 @ 8 pm. They are a charming, funny pair of oddballs.

VINDLEVOSS FAMILY CIRCUS SPECTACULAR! Carrie Brown and Karim Muasher, performers, NY

Finally getting around to this as promised...We have Professor Penelope Vindlevoss, with her outrageous mustache--not in drag--just a mustache, perhaps in lieu of a red nose. This curious anthropologist engages us with her ridiculous german-like accent. Her charge is Edward, a zombie from Borhaah Borhaah (spelled as the Professor pronounced it.) He is a humble and amiable zombie who longs to be human again. Twice during the performance I attended, Edward's monster teeth popped out. It appeared to be unplanned (though with clowns you never know). I was hoping it would happen a third time--at the very end--when Edward becomes human. Professor Vindlevoss is a splendid straight man for her partner, and gives him plenty of opportunity to shine. This is a delightfully skewed take on Pinocchio.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


GIOVANNI! Hew Parham, Performer, Craig Behenna Co-creator & Director, Adelaide, Australia. These are the notes I took during the performance, in the dark, without looking at the page because I didn't want to miss a second: "Wonky Australian-Italian accent, very funny, goofball clowning, extensive preamble before Giovanni introduces himself, food cosmetics applied to G, diatribe on "piece of shit", nonsense, all related to food, insane character, hit on real truths about modern, fast-paced, convenience-centric world, motivational speaker." All those notes do not adequately convey Hew's laugh riot, virtuoso performance. I didn't mind following his lead even when I didn't know where he was going, because I was effortlessly drawn in to the intimate environment created on stage. Giovanni literally spoke volumes. There was substance in the nonsense. It goes to show that a highly-scripted work can be as fresh, and in the moment as any clown show, when performed in a magnificent spirit of playfulness. (Afterwards, a group of us went to Fortunato Brothers Pasticceria and had cappuccino and Italian sweets. What else could we do?)


A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS, Jeroen Bouwhuis, performer, directed by Ton Offermans and Eveline Mois, Amsterdam
The miming of shooting his audience right at the top of the show was a bold and funny way to begin. It was a signal for the recurring theme of violence throughout the evening. His penetrating eye contact with the audience kept us involved. When he took a member of the audience on a date, there was a suggestion of violence in the implied (only with sound) sex they engaged in--we see the aftermath wherein Jeroen was clearly ravaged. The finale was baton-conducted orchestrated violence. It resonated deeply with current events unfolding in the world, evoking for me, an image of the horrific violence being perpetrated by ruthless, oppressive operators on innocent people. A graceful and nimble physical performer, Jeroen moves in splendid synchronization with his self-recorded soundtrack.


POMPO AND PIPO Z Smith, Performer, directed by Jenni Kallo, NY & La Grave, France
Here is a beautifully conceived idea of a homeless clown with a traumatic history. Pompo is extremely hopeful and cheery, considering her plight. That contradiction is powerful. The moments when she realizes her fantasies are nothing more than just that, we are moved. However, when Pompo left behind that upbeat aspect of her personality entirely, and fell into deep pathos, I missed it. A few times I had a little trouble hearing clearly what was being said, and seeing some of the smaller props. The show will definitely ripen with repetition. The more the audience is let in on the pleasure of the clown, the more we will empathize, and laugh.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


LOCKED UPSophia Knox-Miller and Cara McClendon, performers, San Francisco. I have more to say about this show, but not the time right now--except to say--go see them! You have one more chance Sunday 9/21 at 7pm! These are two stupid clowns having a lot of fun. More to come...

As promised...Two crazy clowns, made even more insane by their confinement. Tiny and Tall, prisoners in some sort of jail, play beautifully off each other, demonstrating their indispensable need for one another. There is plenty of great play and clown logic--that is to say--things that could only happen in their kooky world that we accept as fact, and happily go along for the comical ride. Props have multiple uses in that way that only clowns have of transforming them. I wonder what crimes they had committed to warrant their incarceration, but in the end it doesn't really matter at all. The world they create through uncomplicated and cockamamie clowning emanates from a generosity of spirit that makes us laugh from beginning to end.