Tag Clown

Spiralni Cirkus

Thirteen of us students from Helikos performed a selection pieces created in the past years at school for two nights of performances in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It was a wide ranging show full of masks, clowns, and eccentric characters, showing off a few of the many theatrical territories we touch on at school. All knitted together with in-character transitions and set up, Muppet Show style. The audience response was gratifyingly positive, making the whole adventure entirely satisfying and worthwile.

A huge and gracious thanks to Ana and her partners at Pripovedovalski Variete for inviting us and hosting so many performers in such high style. These photos were taken by Katarina Juvancic at the Glej theater.

More Clowns

Whoa! Look at all these clowns. We all worked hard over the weekend to get ready for our public show next week. So far it’s impressively stupid in parts, in other parts head-slappingly ludicrous, and in still other parts it’s full hearted and funny.  If you happen to be in or around Florence this Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, you’ll have to stop in and see us.

If you still can’t get enough, check out this interview from the New Victory Theater, with some clowns I met last summer in NYC at the Brick International Clown Theatre Festival. Enjoy reading what Billy and Summer say about this world of working clowns.

Campbell Vann Damme

We’re wrapping up this year in school by diving headfirst into clown. It’s an ancient theatrical territory, subtle and personal, and when it’s working it crackles with joy and life.

Probably you’ve heard someone tell you they are scared of clowns. The rainbow wig, a terrible red grimace, smeared greasy face paint, cackling out a laugh with every breath. Clowns we all know seem to shout: everyone should be having fun all the time! I agree, that is pretty scary.

Most of our shared experience of clowns comes from pop culture. Krusty from the Simsons, Stephen King’s IT or the most evil of them all, Ronald McDonald. These guys are miles away from the clown work we do at school. They are devices that use the image of a clown to hide sinister motives barely hidden under that painted on smile.

All the clowns I look up to have less of the trappings of a clown. Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball or Mr. Bean don’t have wigs or face paint. But it’s fun to watch them fail so honestly and completely because they are ridiculously full hearted and imperfect characters. They may be full of themselves and short sighted but they are marvelously curious and completely affected by the world around them.

The director of my school says that an audience will treat clowns in one of three ways, they laugh, walk away or kill the clown. (Kill the clown? Sure! Think of the court jester who mocks the king a little too sharply, or more recently that weeble-wobbling BOZO punching bag that wont fall down.) Well, my latest clown is called Campbell Vann Damme. He’s a mind reader, a snake charmer and a complete idiot. As I’ve worked on him these past few weeks I’ve alternated between wanting to ignore him, wanting to kill him and falling down laughing playing him in improvisations with other clowns from my class.

In a way this clown is what is left after everything I use as a performer to connect to an audience is taken away. All that is left for poor Campbell is my instance on being out in front of an audience. Everything is gone except the plastic red-nose and me. “I deserve to be out here,” he says and I say at the same time.


George Carl, Vaudeville Clown

Bye For Now Boy

It wasn’t easy to say good bye to Bannack as he took off to Great Falls for his New Year’s trip but we had a great week together, and a great day today. He burst into my room this morning by throwing himself against the door and flopping on the ground. Breakfast at the No Sweat with Ed. Fish feeding at the Merc. A walk into the wind to the science museum with my mother and a ride around the carousel with Bannack on a fish.

I’ll miss you little guy, and I’ll see you in May!