Friday, June 1, 2012

Send in the Clowns

Gentle Readers,

I am sorry to have missed you last week.  Moving really cramps a girl's style.

This weekend, one of my favourite events on the theatre calendar takes place:  The Toronto Festival of Clowns

Last night I attended the opening cabaret:  The Red Nose District.  This year, the theme was Apocalypse.  Hosted by the ever-delightful Morro and Jasp, people were invited to bring canned goods so we could hole up for the end of the world in the Pia Bouman Studio Theatre.

Last night all of the clowns worked  " in nose" that is, wearing the traditional red nose we associate with circus clowns.  This style of clown work owes as much  to opera and commedia de'arte  as it does to circus.

Like opera singers, dogs and children, clowns wear their hearts on their sleeves.  A great clown performance is a moment of emotional transcendence.

There was a broad range of fine, engaging character work last night:  Mullet, the black nosed zombie clown with the punk/goth aesthetic and the poet's heart, Moo, who got the audience to help him decorate for the end of the world, Janet Cardinal who gave "desperate housewife" a whole new meaning, Rocket and Sheshells who engaged in a completely endearing  battle of the sexes over sofa supremacy, Pluk and a mad cheerleader with a Latino disco dance partner both did completely different turns taking food hoarding to new levels of hilarity and Botchie Bobbie invited the audience to help her take the masturbatory aspects of the drum solo to new heights. There were a few characters, Princess Penelope and Jasp who wanted to lose their virginity before the world came to an end. Jasp was more controlled about the whole thing, but Princess thought the world might end before she found true love.

In the end, God - an elderly lady who looked like a cross between Queen Elizabeth and the Statue of Liberty put the Rapture on hold with a Swingline can-opener (you had to be there) and singing, dancing, hugging, and the consumption of junk food ensued.  It was the most fun I've had in  a theatre in quite a while. I went home to my sunny yellow sheets and slept in my happy place.

There are several full-length clown shows this weekend as well as a number of cabarets.  Park your preconceived notions about bad birthday clowns and go see some excellent theatre.  The festival runs all weekend and the link above will get you to the schedule of performances.

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