Monday, September 27, 2010

ADAM'S TAKE: Neon Lights


This show relies heavily on the charms of the two actors, and it largely succeeds. Jeff and Chris (or shall we call him Buttons) are a good match of energy and demeanor. They both are unmistakably clowns, but with a downtown urban air. They are both not traditional showman, but have a studied non-chalance that suits their po-mo vaudeville aspirations.

They have a lot of hilarious moments playing off one another. A couple of the routines seem to be a little too long, but it's always a balancing act when you are putting together a variety show that has lots of improv in it.

Overall this was a delightful show with two charismatic performers who really play their characters to perfection. I hope they have the opportunity to now play their routines to perfection also. Well worth catching somewhere else if you can.

Jeff Seal & Chris Manley
New York, NY
Jeff and Buttons have TONS of new material and now they have their own show so this should be a cinch.  Their comedy harkens back to the golden age of Vaudeville (1925-late 1925) with updated and reworked laughs.  Their new PoMoVau show, Neon Lights is all you need to know about Vaudeville and ol’ timey crack ’em ups.  They’re also idiots.  Chris Manley (Buttons) is a member of "New Excitement" and has appeared on Comedy Central.  Jeff Seal is a four-time Golden Clown Nose nominee and has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman.  Both of them co-wrote and acted in Kill Me Loudly: A Clown Noir.  Directed by Danny Manley.  60 min.

Wednesday, September 8th @ 8pm
Monday, September 13th @ 9pm
Saturday, September 18th @ 8pm
Wednesday, September 22 @ 7pm

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ADAM'S TAKE: A-Dressing History

I have to say that I was a little skeptical when I read the promo, and wasn't sure if I'd see this show. I'm really glad I didn't follow my skeptical nature, as this turned into a lovely school show that was fun, well thought out, and informative.
They take the "official uniform" of today- jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, baseball cap, and weave an informative and fun story about how these things came to be. The two performers, WT McRae and Christina Gelsone, strike a great balance between education and fun, and have put together a really great school show that made me want to do school shows (and that's a GOOD show!)

Fool’s Academy
New York, NY
[For kids 7 & older]
Discover history through a new lens: your clothes!  From penguin suits to jeans, tees, and kicks, we uncover the often-odd world of what covers you.  Fool’s Academy uses circus arts and comedy to make history tangible, literally, through your very own clothes.  50 min.
Saturday, September 18th @ 3pm
Sunday, September 19th, Sun @ 3pm

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ADAM'S TAKE: Shorty and Fatty's Half-Century Extravaganza


This was a great evening of cabaret. All of the performers were over 50 (except for John Leo, who kept on trying to sneak in.) There were a number of highlights, but the three pieces that I particularly enjoyed were Hilary Chaplain's pregnant opera singer, Will Shaw's very funny take on "This Old Man", and Big Apple Circus's Michael Christensen's resurrection of an early BAC entree, "The Mole" in which Christensen appears as a manic hunter trying to catch the WILD MOLE, which is under a carpet.

Also performing were Richmond Shepard (the world's oldest mime), Bernie Kramer doing a very strange period piece with a couple of pals, and a Frank Sinatra piece that was a little out of place.

Ably, although strangely hosted by Deborah Kaufmann and Karen McCarty who appear as parrots. "Start the show, start the show."

It was great to see the energy and expertise of the over 50 clowns.


Two Old Birds Present a Bunch of Old Farts
Hosts:  Deborah Kaufmann, Karen McCarty
It is said that one cannot truly be a clown until one has a good bit of life (or a nice roll of fat) under your belt. All these clowns are over fifty and still making fools of themselves! Come honor your elders. Featuring: Julie Goell (Lost Beauty Secrets of the New Reunified Euro Woman), Hilary Chaplain (Classically Trained Opera Singer), Michael Getlan, and MORE!

Price:  $15
Sunday, September 19th @ 5pm

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ADAM'S TAKE: Send in the Angels

I saw two or three different entrees throughout the festival that this group did. Delightful play with the audience. They enter as two angels who inspect the audience for those that need pillows. Denni and Clare have a few minor skirmishes over who needs their help to sleep. They give various members of the audience pillows. At the end, A voice from Heaven admonishes them to get back to work.

The quality of the performance is light and airy and wonderful- ie, full of wonder. The play between the two performers is great, as well as their play with the audience. Highly recommend.


CDDC Productions
Wales, UK
[Double-bill with Ferdinand the Magnificent! or Clowns With Gowns and pre-show to all Family Shows]
Denni Dennis and Clare Parry-Jones return to the festival.  These two angels appear to give love, comfort and relaxation to the audience.  But it is not always easy to pull the reigns in, especially when you have the wind beneath your wings!  Dennis and Parry-Jones have toured internationally with their clown and physical work and were a hit at clown festivals in Denmark and Monte Carlo.  25 min.
Monday, September 13th @ 7pm

Wednesday, September 15th @ 7pm

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Thursday, September 23, 2010


This show was a delight to watch. Gabriel Munoz as the Bride sets a hilarious and startling image as a woman in a bridal dress eating cake. The first three minutes of her wordlessly eating cake are terrific. She lets you imagine why she's there. After that she acknowledges the audience, and starts to let us in on her secret. It's not that she was jilted, it's just that she wants to be married. She goes seeking into the audience for the perfect man.

Now, as it so happens, I was sitting in the front row, so I was picked, and then rejected, and then the guy she rejected me for was rejected, and I was picked again, and invited to come up on stage and say I do, which I did, and give her a giant ring, which I did.

Then after the wedding, we are sitting on the couch, and one thing leads to another and ... well, we get divorced. And she makes me go back to my seat, and there she is, on the couch again. And she gets up, does a few more things, and that's the end of the show.

Gabriel Munoz is very good at playing with the audience, and playing a high status woman who doesn't get what she wants. The only wish I had for this show is that at the end, she doesn't get up. She should EXACTLY repeat her opening. In this way we see that the play has come round in a circle, and although we are exactly where we were when we started (the typical ending to most clown plays) we are different, because we have shared our experience together.

Wonderful-- please catch it elsewhere if you can.

Clown Me In
Mexico City, Mexico
[Double-bill with Ms. Pretty Smart, Secret Agent]
Perhaps, perhaps, quizás … is a clown piece playing with the idea of loneliness, waiting and hoping for the right man.  Our protagonist, Grima, is a lonely woman who, once a week, rehearses the arrival of The One and the wedding itself.  She wants to fall in love – the hard, take-you-by-surprise, soul-changing kind of love – and is afraid as time passes she might actually be left with only the fake prop that exists in her mind as The Perfect Gentleman.  Hailing from Mexico City, Gabriela Muñoz has toured throughout Mexico and the Middle East, bringing her simultaneously surreal and earthy clown characters to audiences at venues ranging from large urban stages to refugee camps.  20 min.

Sunday, September 5th @ 5pm
Monday, September 6th @ 8pm
Tuesday, September 7th @ 9pm
Saturday, September 11th @ 8pm
Sunday, September 12th @7pm


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I'm blogging about this a little bit after the fact.  I saw this on the double bill with Perhaps Perhaps. 
Overall, I thought this was a really fun show.  Olivia the clown builds an interesting world, and invites us inside.  She is a waiter at a Chinese restaurant, and she secretly dreams of being her comic book hero, Ms. Pretty Smart, Secret Agent.  Her interludes that contrast this and her waiting job are funny, and she pulls off the illusions well.  She also apparently speaks Chinese.

The  piece has lots of little bright moments, but needs to be re-structured or re-written.  The piece starts to bog down as she jumps in between characters, and it becomes unclear whether or not she's still in the chinese restaurant. 

For a clown show that might not be a problem so much, except that it's in the theatre aspect of the clown theatre mantra that we get bogged down on it.  She's got too much PLOT of her story, and less into the SCENARIO of her story.  By this I mean that she's set up a really fantastic scenario:  Humdrum waitress dreams of being a spy.  (Sounds a bit like the television show CHUCK.)  But the mechanics of the PLOT of her show (who is the secret agent, why she does what she does, her French accent that appears out of thin air) starts to get in the way of her ability to PLAY, and as a result the show starts to feel a little addled and un-clownlike, more like sketch comedy gone astray.

If I were asked for suggestions,  I'd suggest ruthlessly cutting out the words, and really focusing on the scenario, and then adding in little bits of dialogue as it becomes absolutely necessary.  I think then that this show would continue to focus on the funny, and less on the convoluted plot.

Overall, an interesting show by a charming performer.


Olivia Lehrman
New York, NY
[Double-bill with Perhaps, Perhaps, Quizás …]
Follow this acrobat/comedienne through a fantasy world of adventure, heroism, and stupidity.  While playing piano behind her back, turning upside down, speaking Chinese, and tangling herself up in concertina playing, Secret Agent Pretty Smart juggles the humdrum of life with exploits of bravery.  30 min.
Sunday, September 5th @ 5pm
Monday, September 6th @ 8pm
Tuesday, September 7th @ 9pm
Saturday, September 11th @ 8pm
Sunday, September 12th @ 7pm

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

ADAM'S TAKE: Circus Lunai!


I was really hoping to like this show. When I did the San Francisco Fringe Festival a number of years ago, there was an improv troupe doing something very similar, (they were supposedly an improv troupe from an hitherto undiscovered Slovakian country, and they were hilarious)

The director of Theatre Dzieci is a student of Jerzy Grotowski, and is obsessed with the idea of the clown as simpleton. I've seen a couple of their other pieces, mostly cabaret pieces, and have enjoyed their work a lot. The concept- Borat meets the circus, is a good one. Sadly, I don't feel that Dzieci has found the funny, or even found the heart of this idea.

The show begins with a bit of Beckettian clowning-- a young stonefaced clown enters and in seeming slow motion tries to blow up a balloon and fails. He tries a number of times, and eventually manages to give the slightest bit of breath to a dog, which he gives to me (naturally, I'm sitting in the front row) The routine is competently performed, with some life behind it, but it doesn't bode well or invite us into what follows.

A group of seven clowns (the leader, his wife, and 5 maroons, all bucktoothed) enter singing a quasi-circus marching song. They enter and exit several times. The leader has an excellent energy, the wife so-so, and the rest of the cast seem to have taken too much of their zombie medication.

They proceed to introduce themselves, and do a series of circus stunts that they can't do or are terrified to do. (walk a tightrope on the floor, and tame a "tigger") For that they get an audience member. Want to guess who they picked?

They gave me a hat and a whip, and one of the characters was in a tiger costume. They wanted me to whip the tiger to get it to jump through a hoop. I suggested some positive re-inforcement, and the leader said "No- whip the tiger!" I didn't want to whip the tiger, and finally touched the tiger with the whip, who whimpered as if I had whipped him.

From my perspective, this shows exactly a bad way of dealing with an audience member. The first rule of improv is to Say "Yes, But" not "No." I think he should have said, "What is this positive reinforcement of which you speak. In my country, we train animals by whipping. You want to be nice to tiger and you think he will do what you say?" --then we would have had a live improv, and maybe something going on. Instead, the energy just kind of depleted, because they had to do it a certain way.

There are some okay ideas (the synchronized swimming was a good idea but went on way too long)-- Overall, the show runs at a glacial pace, and the maroons are far too zombified to differentiate themselves as clowns and performers. The last exit of one clown took forever, and once again, had no truth running through it, rather just some very strong zombie medicine.

I hope their next show they can say Yes during the show, and I'll be able to say Yes after the show.


Theatre Group Dzieci
New York, NY
Hailing from East Molvania, Cirkus Luna! may be the worst circus act ever to perform in public.  There is nothing this family troupe does that comes even remotely close to demonstrating skill.  Tightrope walkers chicken out, the lion weeps, and acrobats can’t even do a forward roll.  Festival veterans Theatre Group Dzieci bring their unique, hilarious, even creepy version of clown work back to The Brick.  45 min.

Friday, September 10th @ 7pm
Tuesday, September 14th @ 7pm
Wednesday, September 15th @ 9pm  

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ADAM'S TAKE: Legs and All

This show was a great example of taking an inventive idea and running with it.  Summer Shapiro and her partner Peter Musante really have thought through the world that they have created, and play with the rules of their universe in really interesting ways. 

The piece is a little more towards dance theatre than clown theatre-- ie, this show would be perfectly at home at a choreography festival or modern dance festival.  There's lots of comedy, but there's a certain amount of tragedy in this story of two kind of odd people falling in love and then losing their love.

I thought they did a really great job of making us care about the characters-- the play starts slowly, and then builds into a bit of frenetic activity.  The only thing I would suggest for this show is that I felt that towards the middle of the show the pace leveled off, and I felt like some of the acting beats were repeated... (I want that, no I want that ).  Without losing their special relationship, and the play of tension between the two characters, I'd like to have seen a little bit more variety of pace in the middle of the show.  But overall, I was delighted to have seen it, and I think most people who are interested in the intersection between clown, theatre, and dance will be too.


Summer Shapiro and Peter Musante
New York, NY
A man in an attic meets a woman in a box.  As they lure one another into their worlds, their curiosity unfolds and exposes a hilarious, mind-bending, innovative allegory for the classic man-meets-woman story.  Rooted in physical comedy and drenched in imaginative stage illusion, Legs and All is an inventive exploration of human loneliness set to an evocative tango-meets-bluegrass score.  60 min.
Tuesday, September 14th @ 9pm
Thursday, September 16th @ 7pm
Saturday, September 18th @ 10pm
Friday, September 24th @ 11pm

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ADAM'S TAKE: Morro and Jasp Do Puberty


This was a fantastic show.  These two Canadian clowns have a well-thought out, well-oiled show that takes on the rather sensitive topic of menstruation.  From the toilet/throne that is the main set piece for the show, to the Leo DiCaprio poster on the wall, this show hits a number of just the right tones to keep the audience laughing as the clowns keep the stakes very high.

Jasp and Morro are sisters- Morro is a lanky tomboy who likes playing soccer baseball,  Jasp slightly older, dreams of settling down with Leo DiCaprio, but still plays with dolls.  Morro gets her period, which offends Jasp, as she is older, she should have gotten it first (and in her fantasy,  her period will suddenly allow all of the cool kids in school to see her fantastic qualities, and they would all fall in love with her, which is displayed quite humorously using various Barbie-like dolls.)

I don't want to give up all the gags, but they pull somebody from the audience and give them a fantastic makeover (and it wasn't me, and the person wasn't sitting in the front row!)   Heather and Amy (Morro and Jasp, respectively) do a great job playing off one another and off the audience, and their play (in both the improvisational aspect and the written aspect) seems very very natural.

Looking at their website, it seems they've done a number of shows together as a duo, and it really shows.  This was a fully realized and written piece of clown theatre that allowed the clowns opportunity to play but at the same time had lots of theatrical elements including a quite complicated plot.   

The show is over in NY, but check them out the next time they are in your area.  Definitely worth it.


UNIT Productions
Toronto, Canada
Morro and Jasp do Puberty explores the world of clown sisters Morro and Jasp racing head first into their bloodiest challenge yet.  Jasp can’t wait for puberty and fantasizes about boys and brand new bodily functions, while Morro awkwardly attempts to hide from the inevitable changes overtaking her.  A hit at the Toronto Fringe Festival, earning double-five-star reviews and a “Best of the Fest” award, Morro and Jasp do Puberty follows the bumpy road to adulthood through a hilarious look back at the best period of your life.  60 min.
Saturday, September 4th @ 7pm
Sunday, September 5th @ 7pm
Thursday, September 9th @ 8:30pm
Friday, September 10th @ 9pm
Sunday, September 12th @ 9pm 

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Adam's Take: Ferdinand The Magificent

This is a bouffon show (if you are not sure what bouffon is, take a look here) with an oversized character Ferdinand, wearing a Hitler hairdo, a gigantic diaper, a too-revealing pink body suit, and a nose that makes Jimmy Durante's shnozz seem delicate and quaint. The show starts off in a typical bouffon fashion- the character enters, literally smells nearly everybody in the audience from head to toe (although I got just a handshake, and considering my track record of getting on stage, I can't really complain) and then the show begins.
It starts to deviate from a typical bouffon show and get kind of interesting when Ferdinand starts to sing foreign a cappella songs in their original language (I recognized The Girl From Ipanema (as it had been used in the previous show) and La Vie En Rose and pull bizarre musical instruments directly from the back of his diaper, including an impossibly long garden hose with a trombone mouthpiece attached that he could play pretty well.  This oversized bouffon becomes a rather sensitive singer, which made for an interesting combination.
He's looking for love, and he seems to find it in the persona of an audience member (thankfully not me-- Amy Harlib, a local contortionist clown who's in her 50's and very flexible)
He spends a good portion of the night wooing her, and at the end goes off stage with her. (There's a very funny cameo by the previous show Clowns With Gowns)
I liked this show, but I felt that similar to its double bill partner, it didn't have a clear dangling carrot, nor a clear set of objectives.  It wasn't clear that Ferdinand was looking for love, nor that he would know what to do once he found it-- and I felt like he dilly dallied at a number of other things instead of getting towards his motivating force- looking for love.  He needs to raise the stakes for the character, instead of wanting to woo, he has to be DYING to woo--I think that this imperative will take the same storyline a lot further a lot faster.
Overall, this was definitely an interesting show to watch, and although  there weren't tons of laugh lines in the show, I think that Ferdinand will find them as he grows the show, even if he as to pull them out of his butt.

Third Base!
Blue Lake, CA
[Double-bill with Diz and Izzy Aster, Clowns With Gowns or Send in the Angels]
Join this very strange character on a journey through song and the embarrassments of love.  Ferdinand, wearing a diaper and a shocking pink bodysuit, has the habit of discovering musical instruments in places they have no right to be, leading the audience through a hilarious, surreal world.  Created by Nick Trotter at Dell’Arte International, Ferdinand has appeared in Third Base!'s Myths of the Plastic Age and toured Chiapas, Mexico with Clowns Without Borders.  30 min.
Saturday, September 4th @ 5pm
Saturday, September 11th @ 10pm
Sunday, September 12th @ 5pm

Thursday, September 9th @ 7pm

Monday, September 13th @ 7pm

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First off, let's get a couple of things straight. I love Miss Saturn.  I think Miss Saturn is a very funny improvisor and a virtuosic level hula-hooper. I've worked with her at several venues, and seen several different pieces that she's done, and I in general love most of what I've seen.  I was really looking forward to this show.
This was the first show of Hula Hell is Miss Saturn, and the show starts off with a very interesting question:  Miss Saturn, looking pretty and butch at the same time in a leather/spandex circus suit, a bright pink short wig, and her oh so many muscles,  makes a series of suggestive remarks ending up with this:

You may ask yourself why hoops, and not balls? I will tell you, but in song.
And she then sings a funny reworking of Gary Numan's Here In My Car (but Here in my Hoop)
If she had spent the rest of the show answering this question, I think she would have had a very interesting and tightly wound theatrical show.
As it was, she did not.  Instead, she had a loosely bound, mostly funny variety show that relied on her immense charms as a comedic improvisor and her immense skills as a hula hooper.  The show was messy, funny at times, all over the place, and mostly worked.  By the 20th time she's done this show, it will no doubt be much more skillfully performed, but it won't have that extra little intellectual oomph that I would like to see.
The show relies on calling up a number of people to the stage, first to see if they can hula hoop, and then later to have a little hula hoop battle between two accomplished hula hoopers. Just my luck (or perfidious peril for enjoying sitting in the front row) I was called up to both hula hoop and then cheerlead for one of the battlers-- and my team won! Sadly, my hula hoop skills and my feelings about hula hooping in public made me acutely aware exactly what the title of the show meant-- perhaps I need to increase my ability to circle hoops around my body and I would feel differently.
If you've never seen Miss Saturn perform-- I think you are at this point better served seeing her in a cabaret setting, where her 20 minute set is well-polished and funny and beautiful, just like Miss Saturn. Or if you enjoy watching a show in the process of being born, check out this show now and then again next year.
If this will be your only exposure to Miss Saturn, please believe me when I tell you that when properly rehearsed, her rings shine far brighter than this show currently lets on.
Miss Saturn
New York, NY
Miss Saturn pulls out all the stops in a variety show featuring physical comedy, singing and dancing, small hoops, big hoops, invisible hoops, and various attempts at breaking records of different sorts.  60 min.
Saturday, September 11th @ 6pm
Thursday, September 16th @ 8:30pm
Friday, September 24th @ 9pm

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Adam's Take: The WOW show.

I met Vincenzo Tortorici 18+ years ago at the 1992 International Clown Congress in Philadelphia (part of MTI)  We hung out, bonded then, and like most festivals, at the end we went our separate ways.  We haven't seen each other since then, so I was really glad to hear that he was performing at the Festival, and I'd get to see his work.
His show was designed for young kids, so for this show, I came prepared with my set of amateur critics-- my wife and 2 year old son.  My son loved the show (no surprise-- he loves clowns of all stripes and sizes)  My wife thought the show was fun, and said that she thought that Vince and I had a similar style of performance, which was a nice compliment.
Vince came in from the back of the theatre, and everything he saw he said "Wow!" to.  This started off as a nice sense of wonder.  The stage was a mess, and he finds a list of what he has to do.  Along the way he juggles a number of things, tells a story and pulls a number of people out of the audience to help him.
Over all this was a fun kid's show.  There were two parts that I think could be changed to make the show even better.  I think Vince has a tendency to talk too much.    He ends up talking where he could be doing, and it takes away from his clown finesse and mystique.  I'd like to see the show again, but up until the story telling, he says almost nothing but "WOW!"   I think it would make the show much stronger.
The other thing is that there is (as a plot of the story) a trunk that says "DO NOT OPEN"  He opens it, and finds his story in there, along with all of the props.  And at the end he gives a slightly awkward speech about how in a play, people can open things that say "DO NOT OPEN" but in real life, you should follow instructions.  Unfortunately, the pay off for Opening the DO NOT OPEN box wasn't strong enough to warrant the speech.  Either cut the DO NOT OPEN sign (change it to "WARNING") or make something happen because you opened it that warrants the DO NOT OPEN sign.
This was the last performance of this show in the festival.  If you get a chance to see the show anywhere else, bring a young kid-- they are bound to love it.

Have Vaude, Ville Travel Productions
Decatur, GA
[For kids 3 & older]
The joy of discovery is distilled through the eyes of an exuberant clown, an innocent who relies on his (admittedly limited) wits and the help of the audience to accomplish his list of tasks.  He enters the theater, explores his environment, and generally makes a mess of things as he tells the story of a Prince, a Witch, and a Princess who loves broccoli.  40 min.
Saturday, September 11th @ 3pm
Sunday, September 12th @ 3pm

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Adam's Take: Clowns With Gowns

This female duo has good energy between them, and some of the circus skills displayed (including a really delightful bouncing ball trick with a jumprope) are downright entertaining. Their opening has a fair amount of promise [although I've seen something similar 3 or 4 times in other shows, thankfully not at THIS festival]
Both clowns have strong understandings of their characters. The clown with the stick in her hair [GERTRUDE] has a wonderful physicality about her, and the other woman [CARMEN] plays the preener quite well. They have each wonderful moments with their makeup/hairdo (I found the mask of the face and underneath the face, the same makeup as the mask to be quite provocative.) And the stick in the hair-- it's really funny!
So overall, I enjoyed the show. There were not quite enough surprise/comedy moments in the show for me, but I was willing to go along with the ride, and I think that as the show gets older and stronger, they will fill those moments even more with the laughs.
My big note for them is that they repeat their beats again and again. No, I'm prettier and nicer and more deserving. No, I'm prettier and nicer and more deserving. Oh yeah? Oh yeah? After awhile, the stakes need to get higher and higher, and there needs to be a change both in the tempo, and in the tactics by which they get what they want.
I just didn't quite get a clear picture of the scenario of their show, and why they were doing the show for us, and what their goals were as clowns (not as performers, but as characters) I'd like the carrot in front of the donkey to be even clearer to the audience than it is to the performers, so when the carrot goes away, or gets pulled out of site, or replaced with a rock, we are ahead of the performers, and can enjoy their predicament. I didn't feel they were quite there yet. Nevertheless, definitely worth watching.
On a side note, they had a small cameo in the Ferdinand show that followed which was quite funny.

Clowns with Gowns Productions: Adriana Chavez and Heidi Rider
Blue Lake, CA
[Double-bill with Diz and Izzy Aster, Ferdinand the Magnificent! or Send in the Angels]
Carmen Francesca Maria Frida Ophelia de la Rosa is ridiculously vain.  Gertrude is ridiculously desperate to be just as pretty! Two female clowns attempt to do an extraordinary act together, but will their competitive vying for audience adoration spin it into an outrageous flop?  Their impassioned desire to be the best, the most bewitching, the most ravishing, the most fascinatingly foxy, the most devastatingly dazzlingly divine diva drives their female rivalry to shocking extremes.  This battle of beauty is fully equipped with unraveling skirts, increasingly absurd hairdos and (laughable?) female-vs-female zaniness!  25 min.
Saturday, September 4th @ 5pm
Saturday, September 11th @ 10pm
Sunday, September 12th @ 5pm

Tuesday, September 7th @ 7pm

Wednesday, September 15th @ 7pm

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

FW: Call for Mourners: Brick Clown Funeral


Call for mourners!!  Please meet us Sunday at 6:15 at  Bedford Ave. and North 7th Street (Bedford stop of the L Train).  We will moan, sob, wail and keen our way to The Brick.  Where there will be a short viewing before the funeral service from Dzieci.  If you would like to make a brief statement about the soon to be deceseased please come prepared.

Where: Procession begins at Bedford Ave. and North 7th Street (Bedford stop of the L Train)Theatre Group Dzieci leads the funeral rite following, clown widows and widowers will remember with great passion the achievements of the festival in its 4 short weeks of life. Be sure to stay after the funeral rite for the traditional Closing Night Party.

He would have wanted it so

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Article in the NY Time about Clown Festival Classes

At Clown Class, Reaching Deep Into the Psyche for Something Silly

Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

Rima Miller, left, and Lynn Berg in a physical-comedy workshop at the New York Clown Theater Festival.

Published: September 11, 2008

In the face of uncertainty, some people go to church. Others dive onto their analyst's couch. The next time life gets confusing, how about a clown workshop?

Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

Bob Berky, with beard, leads Hilary Chaplain, far left, David Gochfeld, Audrey Crabtree and Jeff Seal in an exercise.

We're not talking oversize shoes and rainbow wigs. There's no water-squirting flower, no animal-shaped balloons. Bozo is no idol here; think Puck, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball. This is clown theater. It's a sophisticated approach to reflecting reality through comedy, workshop leaders say, cutting through the politics and politesse of life to reach the simple truths of our existence. And when the clown pulls the curtain back on all the layers of civilization, we can't help laughing, not only at the clown before us but also at ourselves.

Clowning is having a serious resurgence in America. Performance teachers, theories and lessons from Europe and South America have been invading since the 1980s. Now clowning is taught, sometimes as a mandatory requirement, at the Yale School of Drama, New York University, the Juilliard School and other esteemed institutions.

"Working on clown is in vogue right now with performing artists of all different walks," said Dody DiSanto, director of the Center for Movement Theater in Washington. "It's a vehicle to freedom, it's a way to soften and to find truth."

How do you teach someone to be funny? How do you get people to laugh at themselves so that others will also laugh at them? Forget comedy class; this is more like philosophy, religion, psychoanalysis. Through Sept. 28 five professional clowns are teaching workshops at the third annual New York Clown Theater Festival, at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Workshops, which vary from one to three days, cost $200. The instructors' approach is an unexpected lesson in soul searching and self-discovery, geared to advanced clowns, performers of all types and members of the public looking to spike their creative life.

In its essence, clowning is psychoanalysis. So the first step in clown training, much as in military training, is desocialization.

"You have to relearn to be deeply inappropriate," said Christopher Bayes, head of physical acting at the Yale School of Drama, who is teaching introductory clowning at the festival. "The body isn't built to sit and be quiet. It's built to run and play and make a mess."

That play is the root of clowning, he said, which gets lost the more we are taught to mind our manners. So aspiring clowns need to delve back into childhood. They need to relearn how to be loud, rude and emotionally raw. How to cry, ask vulgar questions and throw tantrums.

"You have to strip away lots of clever ideas and socializing impulses to get at something much more simple, much more naïve," Mr. Bayes said. "If we can find a way to shed some of that polite behavior, a different kind of sparkle starts to show up in the eye of the actor."

When that polite veneer cracks, what remains is a vulnerable human being. But instead of being exposed in the privacy of a therapist's office or a confessional, the clown is in front of an audience, inviting strangers to relate to the vulnerability.

People won't laugh at a disingenuous, dishonest clown, workshop leaders explained, so more formal actors tend to have trouble playing their actual selves.

"Instead of playing a character, you're shining the light on your own humanity," Ms. DiSanto said. "It's terrifying to expose yourself, but that's what gets a laugh."

Also, clowning is religion.

Bob Berky is a Buddhist clown. He shrugs at the label, and at most others, because, as he often says, "these are just words." But at his workshop last weekend, the first of the festival, the lessons of physical comedy came in philosophical statements about nonattachment, stillness and staying in the present.

"The essence of clowning is seeing what is," he said. "In a lot of Eastern religious literature, even early Western religious literature, you find the 'holy fool,' the idiot who is more conscious of what's going on than anyone else."

On Saturday Mr. Berky guided his students through an exercise involving two socks: one unfolded on the floor, the other scrunched into a ball eight feet away. Participants were asked to stand by the unfolded sock, quietly visualize the path to the scrunched one, then close their eyes, walk the distance between the socks and place a hand on the balled-up one. Two out of nine students did it. The others veered off course, reaching for a sock that was actually a few feet in front of them, several inches to the left or right between their legs. Afterward, Mr. Berky addressed the class.

"How many of you really wanted to touch the sock?" he asked.

Several hands went up in the air.

"Now, isn't that pathetic?" Mr. Berky said.

The students had been too goal-oriented, focused on succeeding, preoccupied with being perfect.

"A lot of comedy is based on the relationship between perfect and imperfect," he said, explaining that walking past the sock or standing on top of it was funnier than touching it. "Performance, more than anything, is watching for accidents."

Lynn Berg, a workshop participant, is an actor from Bushwick, Brooklyn, who has been drawn to clowning classes lately.

"It's a more open approach to performance," he said, because clowning is about "celebrating mistakes." He added, "When you're playing Shakespeare there's an expectation of perfection, which is the opposite of what we're doing here."

Clowning, he said, is about connecting directly with the audience over the joy of being human, shared experience and the recognition that "we are the same."

"It feels spiritual," he said, "in a laughing way."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Special Discounted Class with Bob Berky!

Architectures of Physical Comedy
With Bob Berkey
Saturday September 6th, 10-3
Sunday September 7th, 10-3
$200 Special Discount $150 ($50 off)
15 Students Max
Break for lunch
at The Battle Ranch Annex
405 Johnson Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11206
(2.5 blocks from Morgon stop off the L train)


This course will explore structural and rhythmic elements of physical comedy, and techniques for opening possibilities of
exploration and writing in the world of the theatrical clown. Participants should come with at least a five minute piece to be "played" with. We will look at their current content and structure of the piece and search for ways of expanding the material in a way that supports and deepens the ideas that the artist intends. Who is the performer and what are they saying?

Bob Berky has performed as a solo artist throughout the world. In New York, he has appeared at the Dance Theatre Workshop, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and as a featured artist at The Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival in "The Alchemedians" and "The Power Project". "The Alchemedians", with Mr. Berky and Michael Moschen, was produced off-Broadway and toured worldwide. He has also performed at the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage in Washington and the National Theatre in London, England.

Bob Berky directed movement and clowning for producer Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Twelfth Night" at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. He was movement choreographer for the Longw harf Theatre's production of "A Flea In Her Ear", directed by John Tillinger. He has also worked as movement coach for such performers as Donal Donaldson, Gregory Hines, Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Mr. Berky has taught at many universities and theaters as a guest artist and Master Teacher including The Juilliard School, Brandeis University, University of Texas at Austin, the North Carolina School for the Arts, UCSB, Smith College and the Dell Arte School of California. He has worked extensively as a teaching and performing artist with the Lincoln Center Institute.

Current projects include a two man version of Richard 3 with Eric Bass and directing "El Magnifico" currently playing in the NY Clown Theatre Festival.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Festival Preview: The Birdmann

The Birdmann is an Australian circus/vaudeville/sideshow performer who combines magic, theatre, circus skills, and inspired nonsense to create a show that is unique. Acts include plastic-bag juggling, knife-throwing, and nostril tea-drinking. The act has displayed in fifteen countries internationally, and goes directly from the NY Clown Festival back home to the Melbourne Fringe in Australia.

Here's what The Groggy Squirrel, an independent publication that reviews Australian comedy has to say about the Birdmann (reviewing a previous show, Birdmannifesto:

The Birdmann is a curious creature. A character comic who has invested so much into the one character that you find yourself forgetting that this is just a persona. A performer who performs tricks that would normally be the domain of clowns with a straight-faced intensity that makes them as impressive as any serious circus performer.

Every element of this show, from the opening “is this a dagger I see before me” (no, it’s an umbrella) to the crab impersonations and costumes screams absurdity, but the straight-faced delivery ensures that the audience never feels lost or confused. These things might seem ridiculous coming from any other performer, but here they are just part of the Birdmann experience.

While this show is very tightly scripted and performed, Birdmann is also comfortable breaking out into casual improvisation to deal with any unforeseen input. Constant creaking of the roof and the late arrival of enough punters to double his audience were dealt with amusingly and without any break from the world that he has created for us.

There’s something uniquely special about Birdmannifesto, a quality to it that screams “this show is a great show”. It’s not the funniest show in the festival, and the circus skills aren’t the most impressive I’ve seen, but something about it as a whole makes it stand out from the crowd. The fact that this is also one of the cheapest shows in the festival (only $10 in a laugh pack or on Tuesdays) makes this arguably the best value for money to be found in the festival. I can’t imagine how anyone, regardless of their comedy tastes, could walk out of this show and not feel thoroughly entertained.

You can find out more about his work at
His website is currently under construction.

The Birdmann will be at the NY Clown Festival at the Brick on:

Sat 9/6 at 7pm
Wed 9/10 at 10pm
Sat 9/13 at 9pm
Tue 9/16 at 7pm

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Festival Preview: Orianne Bernard

Orianne Bernard is a French actress, clown, writer, and director. She studied with Jacques LeCoq in Paris and at the Ecole Internationale de Kiklos . Since then, she has studied with a number of people, including Giovanni Fusetti, who has directed her latest work.

Orianne has also done quite a bit of work as a hospital clown, both for sick children and also for adults who are dealing with Alzheimer's and other ailments. Oriane has also taught clowning in France and Europe.

Since 2002, she has been creating stories and shows around her clown Mmlle Oberniche

The NY Clown Theatre Festival is the first stop on an international tour.

To find out more about her work, visit the website listed below (in French)

C'est La Nuit Qu'il Faut Attraper La Lumiere
(It is The Night That Should Catch the Light)

(performed in English)
A Depressive Comedy with Miss Oberniche

Strasbourg, France, Companie Accès-Soir
Director: Giovanni Fusetti,
Performer: Orianne Bernard

Miss Oberniche invites you into her home to show you her universe, her habits, her friends and above all, her charming prince. She is usually funny, but not always. Sometimes she is on the edge of tears. In her home, you will also meet Santa Claus and her boss, God.
So, world, hold her tight and make her dance a waltz. Then take her for an extra turn: a turn of laughter, a turn of love, a turn of life!
Is anybody looking when no one is there?
70 minutes

Sun 9/7 at 5pm
Fri 9/12 at 10:30pm
Sun 914 at 5:30pm
Thurs 9/18 at 8:30pm

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

2008 Clown Festival Schedule

The schedule for this year's festival has been announced!

I'll be posting more about these acts in the next few day.

Fri, 9/5
4:30pm Clowns in Union Square Park
5:30pm Subway Parade from Union Square
7:00pm Pie Fight!
10:00pm Free Preview Cabaret

Sat 9/6
3:30pm Ten West
7:00pm Birdmann
9:00pm Little Business/Pants
10:30pm Ten West

Sun 9/7
3:00pm TBA
5:00pm C'est la Nuit
7:00pm Ten West
8:30pm CanCan/Pants/2 Chairs

Tue 9/9
7:00pm Big & Little/Magnifico
9:00pm Manifesto

Wed 9/10
7:00pm Manifesto
8:30pm Big & Little/Magnifico
10:00pm Birdmann

Thu 9/11
7:00pm Big & Little/Magnifico
9:00pm Manifesto
10:30pm Cabaret

Fri 9/12
7:00pm A Glass of Wine
8:30pm Little Business/Pants
10:30pm C'est la Nuit

Sat 9/13
5:30pm Running into Walls
7:00pm Magic Behind the Slapstick: Ben Model
9:00pm Birdmann

Sun 9/14
5:30pm C'est la Nuit
7:30pm A Glass of Wine
9:00pm Running into Walls

Tue 9/16
8:30pm Running into Walls
10:15pm Birdmann

Wed 9/17
7:00pm Nosdrachir Sisters
8:30pm A Glass of Wine
10:00pm The Big Bang

Thu 9/18
7:00pm Bury My Heart
8:30pm C'est la Nuit
10:30pm Cabaret

Fri 9/19
7:00pm Party of One
8:30pm Kill me Loudly
10:30pm Nosdrachir Sisters

Sat 9/20
2:30pm TBA
4:00pm Bury My Heart
6:00pm Nosdrachir Sisters
7:30pm The Big Bang
9:30pm Party of One

Sun 9/21
3:30pm Party of One
5:00pm Kill Me Loudly
7:30pm Bury My Heart
9:00pm Brazilian Hulk/Crow's Funeral

Tue 9/23
8:00pm Number's Up

Wed 9/24
7:00pm Soiree
8:30pm Brazilian Hulk/Crow's Funeral

Thu 9/25
7:00pm Number's Up
8:30pm Brazilian Hulk/Crow's Funeral
10:30pm Cabaret

Fri 9/26
7:00pm 12 Hours
9:00pm Soiree
10:30pm Kill Me Loudly

Sat 9/27
5:30pm 12 Hours
7:00pm Number's Up
8:30pm Soiree
10:00pm Free Cabaret

Sun 9/28
6:00pm Clown Funeral Procession (from N.7 and Bedford Ave.)
7:30pm Funeral Service (at The Brick)
8:00pm Closing Night PARTY!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Missed my last chances...Today's the last day!

Friday night was the one night that I might have been able to see some of the shows in the last weekend of the festival. Particularly disappointed that I missed Solo, Tapate, the Maestrosities (which is what I'd planned to see on Friday night) and Mooky Cornish's show the Glories of Gloria (which I may have been able to see last night.)

I missed them all-- For me it was a combination of tech rehearsal, and tech problems-- my car battery has been having issues, and ended up requiring getting replaced. And as for tech rehearsal, if you want to know more, you can visit to find out more about my latest project.

Today's the last day: Two shows remain:



And then the last event of the festival is the clown funeral:

All good things must come to an end, and the 2nd Annual NY Clown Theatre Festival is no exception. The finale of this year’s festival will be appropriately mourned by all with a Clown Funeral. Mourners of all shapes and sizes are invited to join in the Fellini-esque procession of clowns, widows, and stilt-walkers. The Maestrosities will provide suitably somber clown music.

When: Sun, Oct 28 at 6:30 pm
Where: Bedford at North 7th Street (Williamsburg), processing to The Brick Theater

I can't be there for that, but I mourn in absentia. The festival was great this year, and I look forward to the next one!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Festival Photos -- Clown Parade & Pie Fight

Searching flickr is fun! I found this set of photographs from the opening day of Clown Festival festivities (can you have festival festivities? Or is that redundant? Aren't all festival activities, by their definition, both festive, and festivities?)

Anyway, these photographs are from the opening day, and include the Clown Parade and the Pie Fight. All these photos are by Allegra Mynatt, and I highly recommend viewing her flickr site.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Clown Olympics Photos

Doing a little search of some photos on Flickr, I found this amazing set of photographs by a photographer named Kurt Dietrich.

They are of the Clown Olympics, and although I wasn't able to be there, they give a pretty good feeling of some of the great and crazy wackiness that must have gone on.

If you like these photos, you should check out his flickr page. He's a really great photographer, and not just about clown stuff. He's got a bunch of great sets of photographs. Highly recommended.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Come drink with the clowns!

Tonight is the clown bar hop. Which puts a new meaning into the word stumblebum, if you can dig the shpiel I'm laying on your cake. There'll be plenty of time for frivolity, for chatting, and of course, for doing things that are not contained in the Clown's Code of Ethics

Put on your best clown nose, slip on those big shoes and celebrate the 2nd Annual NY Clown Theatre Festival in style! Join in the fun and frivolity with these red-nosed pros as they spread the mirth and merriment with a massive late night bar crawl. Watch the hipsters scatter as this horde of clowns drink their way through Williamsburg.

When: Fri, Oct 19 at 11 pm
Where: Starting at Macri Park Bar, 462 Union Avenue (between Metropolitan Ave. and Conselyea St.), Williamsburg

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Thursday, October 18, 2007


Clownifornia featured two acts, both who trained in California at the SF School for Circus Arts under Jeff Raz. Both acts showed promise, but didn't quite hit the mark in the show I saw.

A Sudden Gust of Gravity featured NY Clown Jeff Seal as he talks about physics, the universe, and gravity. Jeff has an affable likable presence, and physical chops as a performer, and his premise is amusing (he talks about the two dimensions, and then starts to take "requests" --go left and down!" And when he gets to the third, he straps a large rubberband on and attempts to go back and forward in time. The show never really gets much further than that.

Jeff's concept is clever, he's likable, and overall I enjoyed the show. If he can follow through on some of the logical extensions (multiple rubberbands that act as mysterious attractants on the object (him) ), I think he'd get a great physics/science school show out of it, and also be able to tour it as a comedy show to theatres and colleges. But he needs to spend much more time working on the storyline of the show, and make sure that the routines have large enough payoffs/surprises. What if he somehow managed to go back in time, or at least convince us that he had? Or go forward in time? What's the comic payoff for that, that doesn't involve winning the lottery or buying microsoft at a dollar? (which are the trite and hackneyed payoffs)

Damsel’s Demise
featured two characters/children/clowns: a girlie girl clown, in love with her mannequin boyfriend, and the tomboy, playing war games in her cardboard fort. The show was created and performed by Suzanne Santos and Summer Shapiro. I saw the first show, and it was the first show of the festival that I saw that was not greeted enthusiastically by the audience. (I'm told by some of the other bloggers that saw both of their shows that the second show was much stronger) I've got some thoughts about this.

It's not that the show didn't show promise-- The opening set, a large moving box with one of the girls in it, next to a mannequin doll was really strong-- and their costumes were great. And the idea of their characters seemed good. However (at least for me), a lot of the acting seemed forced- the interactions between the two, their "play" as children, their "hungers" for love and games-- none of that seemed true to me or to the audience. And that started a little bit of a deadly spin, as they played harder to make up for the lack of the audience response, their acting seemed more forced, etc. so forth.

The show is a little ambiguous until the end about whether or not they are children playing dress up, or clowns in their own world. They end up (I think) being children playing dress up, and that was a safer (but less interesting) choice.

Also, the show had a lot of content that had potentially "heavy" meaning-- gender displacement, the war, illness, love, being spurned, etc. All of that needs a light touch to avoid being cliched or generalized or not well thought out. Unfortunately the light touch wasn't there that night. There were parts of the show that could have been rubberstamped "Meaningful" on top of the scene.

The girly girl's first entrance (she comes in very slowly, with several suspicious slow turns) made it seem a little bit more like performance art, and less like a fun clown show. I think if she had made a different entrance-- had a different engaging energy to start, I might have followed them more. The tomboy entered with a lot of energy (out of the box) but immediately started playing wargames, and I couldn't quite follow why.

And then when the tomboy enters, I immediately started to wonder if they were going to be doing some kind of gender-role reversals. But nothing quite happened in that arena (actually I had a thought about midway through the act that it would have been much more interesting if the girlie girl had been played by a man-- now we've got gender-stuff going on, and in a way that could seem fun and possibly fresh, and not so trite. Of course, now I'm just writing a different play, not the one I saw.

I could see that the performers had done a fair amount of work to create the show, but it didn't quite gel together for me (or the audience I was in). I'd like to see the show in four months or so (and although I may be writing some other show) I'd love to see the children element pulled out of the show, and the drag element put in.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Chiches Capon Cabaret

This French cabaret was a big hit at last year's festival, and with good reason. It's got a number of things going for it, but most of all, the acting and the relationships between the characters are what make this a remarkably fun evening at the theatre.

You are greeted by two clownish characters wearing mini-skirts and wigs (although Phillipe has his own hair, but in pigtails) A long-haired hippyish-gypsyish musician (Ricardo) is playing songs as you enter.

After a while, to start the show, an IMPOSSIBLY TALL French clown comes out and starts the show. From there the insults and slights, both real and imagined on both the audience and the other performers start to flow, and that's when the great clowning begins. It's hard to describe all of the show, because it flows effortlessly one thing after another-- suffice to say, by the end, you've seen some very funny character work from everybody on the stage.

I'm not quite sure who is who in this faux cabaret, but all of them are great and play their roles to perfection. I especially love Phillipe, who is in motion constantly, dancing off the walls, and at the end of the show, becoming the Human Otter that comes into the audience. The "leader" ringmaster (to the left, the one in the neck brace) is perfectly snide, and is a true prima donna.)

The musical gags are hilarious, and the gags of character status, and insult intentional and not-intentional are also very very funny. The show was about an hour and a quarter, and really my only criticism is that perhaps the show could have been about 15 minutes shorter. There were a few gags that felt like they repeated themselves in, and in an act of " how you say, tossing ze baby into ze drain wizzout ze paddle, oui?" they could have jettisoned the show and left us dying for more instead of just wanting more and different.

Nevertheless this is a tiny quibble on a wonderful show.

I'd highly recommend seeing them if you have the opportunity-- if not in NY, then at any other festival in the world that they are going to be at-- But be warned, you should be prepared to purchase your tickets early!

Two shows remain at the Festival:
Tuesday 10/16 at 10pm
Wednesday 10/17 at 7 pm ***FINAL SHOW PERFORMED IN FRENCH

To find out more about their work, visit

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bloggers Unite!

Well, after a fair amount of false starts, mis-spellings, and other misadventures, I believe that all of the "official bloggers" of the festival are starting to write-- and so far I am very impressed with the lot.

If you want to just read all of the blogs at once (and you use an RSS reader) you can subscribe to this blended feed I created.


Or you can visit this page which serves as a feedblendr archive.

Or you can look on the side of this blog, which features the last 10 posts of the feed.

Oh the possibilities abound to read great information about the clown theater festival of New York!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bouffon Glass Menagerie

Bouffon Glass Menagerie promises a lot to its audience members-- and delivers on every promise. It's a fantastic show that is well-conceived, well-directed, well-designed, and very well-acted.

Basically it's a parody of Tenessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie: which was Tennessee's first commercial success, and a play that has a long history of being parodied and mocked.

And mock it they do. From the moment the actors enter into the space--they are viciously and hilariously mocking the play, the playwright, the audience, each other, and just about everything else they can get their hands on. In the straight play, the characters are all crippled and limited emotionally, but they seem fine on the inside. Here the visual display of the characters shows them as crippled physically as they are emotionally.

The show features Lynn Berg as Tom (the drunken lout of a brother, with a hunchback and a bald head), Audrey Crabtree as Laura (the self-destructive crazy girl with a fetish for glass animals and cutting herself) and Aimee German as Amanda (the overstuffed mother who is living in the glory days of her past) The Gentleman Caller is culled from the audience, and is allowed free roam over the play (although with some guidance) The show is directed by Eric Davis (he of The Red Bastard.) Eric and Audrey are two of the artistic directors of the Clown Festival.

There are so many great moments in this show-- including the phone sex with the audience, the picking of the gentleman caller, and the beer-chugging contest in the middle (you know I am not kidding!)

The play is wonderful and deserves to be seen-- they only have one more appearance at the festival (tonight, Saturday 8/13 at 10:30 pm.) So if you are on the fence about going-- Now is your chance. Check it out.

You can also find out more about the play by going to their website, listed below.

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3 shows tonight, and a note about community.

I saw all three shows tonight (it was one of my opportunities to do so, and I took it)

Clownifornia, Bouffon Glass Menagerie, Chiche Capon's Cabaret.

I'll be talking about all of them in the next couple of posts, in general I have some positive things to say about all of them, a couple of hesitations about a couple of them, and an unqualified rave about the third (which I'll divulge is Bouffon Glass Menagerie. -- If you have the opportunity, go see it, it's fantastic!)

Even though I saw three shows in a row (which is a lot of show, let me tell you) it was in general great. I wanted to talk a little about the community of clowns, and why EVEN more than seeing the work, seeing all of your friends and is the most important reason to have a clown festival.

I'd talk about all that, but it's 2:22 am, and I have to drive to Providence tomorrow. More tomorrow or Sunday....

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Stanley Allan Sherman is a classy guy... and he's blogging too!

Stanley Allan Sherman is one of the other official bloggers of the festival, and he's got a lot of insightful things to say. Definitely check out his thoughts (but as he is careful to point out, not reviews) of the shows. He's got a great eye, and he's focusing on all the right things. He's well worth reading.

Stanley is a graduate of Ecole Jacque Lecoq in Paris France and has been making leather theatre masks since 1976. He was in the original cast of the Off Broadway Show, Grandma Sylvia's Funeral that ran for 3+ years. On NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien he has been in over 40 comedy bits.
Stanley is co-director and founder along with Hovey Burgess of Roving Classical Commedia University* (Totally Unaccredited). He is also known for his solo clown and commedia style shows that toured around the country and has been the featured show at many festivals for over 25 years, Stanley Allan Sherman's AERO SHOW Featuring The Star Spangled Banner was critic's choice in the Los Angles Times. He was a teacher and mask maker in the late 70 under the direction of the master of Commedia dell'Arte, Carlo Mazzone-Clementi at his school Dell'Arte School of Mime and Comedy in Blue Lake, California.

As a master leather craftsman he created the world famous Mankind Mask (the Arlecchino of the WWF) for the World Wrestling Federation. He had the longest running exhibition in the history of the NY Lincoln Center Museum of the Performing Arts. As a leather craftsman he has traded leather techniques and secrets with leather workers from around the world. Stanley directed and developed the children's show Bride of Beowulf, which toured for over 6 years. He has written three plays, teaches mask masking, performing, commedia, mime, clown and mask.

Stanley's websites:
CLOWN FESTIVAL BLOG: Stanley's Clown Theater Festival Blog

And not only that, he's teaching a class at the festival! (I told you he was classy!)

Leather Clown Nose Making Workshop
WHEN: Monday October 15th 2-5pm & Wednesday October 17th 2-5pm
COST: $182 (includes material and tool fee. You get to keep the 7 tools.) *
WHERE: Mask Arts Studio 203 West 14th St Studio 5F, New York NY 10011-7138
WHAT ELSE: Maximum of 6 students.
To reserve your spot you must pay the full fee in advance, because Stanley needs to buy the tools and supplies in advance.

To find out more about the class, visit

* Past Clowns Nose Students of November or January who would like to take the class again may for a reduced fee of $58 including supplies.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Bubkus and No Place Like Home-- Reviews has two reviews of Festival shows up, and so far, the festival has charmed the reviewers.

I saw both of these guys at the opening, and I'm sure their individual shows are a lot of fun. Sadly, these are two more shows I won't get to see. (Part of the problem of living in the town where the festival is is that your life doesn't stop. When I am performing at a festival that I've gone to, it's not like I have anything else going on in that town. I need to promote my show, and see other shows. That's all I'm doing. Here, my schedule isn't clear, so I'm sadly going to see very little (Yes, let me complain some more, why don't I! Oy gevalt!)

Anyway, here's the two reviews from

NO PLACE LIKE HOME, which is the show by Rob Torres. The reviewer doesn't seem to like clowns very much (spends about half the review talking about scary clowns, annoying pantomime bits, and Stephen King's IT.) Despite her fear of clowns, she seemed to like Rob's show, and calls it charming, captivating, warm and welcoming, and funny.
Rob Torres' website is

Bubkus is the work of Canadian clown Jesse Buck-- who (a different reviewer) really loved. The show involves a lot of improvisation, audience participation (including whacking the clown over the head with a pillow) and some other improvised stunts. The review says that it's entertaining for all generations, and I believe it!
Jesse Buck's website is

Both reviews are very positive-- read them and see!

NY Theatre is going to continue to review shows throughout the festival, so you can check back with them on their website here.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Official NY Clown Festival Bloggers: UPDATED!

There are four other bloggers that are covering the festival as official bloggers--

Here are the official links of the other "official" clown festival bloggers
(a couple of them aren't operational yet, keep on checking back)



In the meantime, check out
Deborah's great review of COPS.
It's sadly a show I won't be able to see.

If you are reading this and you've seen a show and blogged about it elsewhere, let me know, and I'll post a link to your blog here!

Also, if you'd like to write a review of a show, write it, and I'll post it here too!
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Saturday, October 6, 2007

First Cabaret-- Review

Went to the first cabaret tonight-- it was very full (I'd say over sold, but the tickets were free, and the fire marshal may not be happy to hear about it- so let's just say that it was full of people.)

It was my first time at the Brick, which is a nice and cozy space. Although they had a mongo air conditioner front and center, it was too little too late, the space was very hot, what with all the people. Fortunately, there were plenty of chinese hand fans in evidence (and liberally used)

One of the best things about a festival like this (in addition to seeing the work, of course) is running into new friends and old friends. I ended up talking for sometime with a new friend- a Danish clown who is living in London and working with a Russian troupe (and it turns out we have a lot of the same influences!) It was great talking to him. (His name was improbably Denni Dennis (and his website is )

There were a number of acts performing little tidbits of their upcoming performances. Acts ran about 8 minutes, and while some seemed well suited or designed to pique the interest in the 8 minutes, other shows were less adept at making the cabaret/showcase spot work for them. Nevertheless, all of the shows looked redeeming and pretty interesting (it's just that some looked more interesting than others) The worst part for me is because of all my other commitments, there are lots of shows I won't be able to see.

Hot on the list was an old friend Rob Torres, who has been performing on the cruise ship circuit for some time, and has been working on a new solo show that is premiering at the festival called NO PLACE LIKE HOME. That show is directed by Avner Eisenberg. For the cabaret, Rob did a number of funny bits, including some great hat tricks, a bunch of stuff you shouldn't do with masking tape, and a brilliant tie-tying rope trick.

Another great act was COPS by EFS, a Catalan company. Three guys perform a number of routines based on noir. The scene they showed was an infiltration of a drug bust, featuring cocaine, money, a violin, and a lot of mishaps. It's clear that the guys have a great comic energy together, and are exceedingly well cast. Their show looks like a great deal of fun.

Another show that looked like a lot of fun was the Canadian clown show Bubkus. The lead clown Jesse Buck did an 8 minute piece that was nearly ruined by a slightly drunk or high giggly clown girl in the front row, who laughed at every opportunity (and some that she shouldn't have) and was just a little too game to be picked as a volunteer. Buck handled her very well, and also did some very funny obstacle bits with his toothbrush stuck in a bottle of water.

Other shows that looked interesting included The Combustibles Burnt Umber, Erin Bouvey as Flam St. Cyr and her black pussy...Dill and Digger from Norway, and a very interesting act that was just coming in from San Francisco for the day--Jamie Coventry and Natasha Kaluza as Mr. and Mrs. Legume. They did a few funny music bits, including some great body drumming.

At the end of the night, a crowd hung for a while in front of the Brick deciding where to go, and it was nice to see the clown energy. I think the festival needs a beer tent (or a designated drinking spot) It won't help me, as the best way to get there for me is to drive.... Still, it would be nice to hang out with everybody.

All in all, a very good night for the festival, and I think a great start. I only wish I had the time to see every show and take every class. It would be a LOT of fun.

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