Thursday, May 1, 2008

500 Clown

The title may be a little misleading. There are in fact only three clowns. But anyone who has been around the Chicago theatre scene will know that the performance group 500 Clown is more than larger than life.

Their mission is as follows:
500 Clown uses circus arts, improvisation, and action-based performance to produce theatre that catapults the performer into extreme physical and emotional risk. The work shifts the audience from passive to active observers and creates a charged environment that celebrates the unpredictable power of the moment.

And are they ever effective.

From balancing precariously on wires and bars, to climbing all over each other, and leaping off a scaffolding onto a stage that collapses, the performers are constantly in action that creates tension. You can see that their audience is physically uncomfortable with the balancing act that is their performance. The clowns themselves are never out-of-control. Indeed, they have mastered the art of making a choreographed series of movements and falls look, well, unchoreographed and spontaneous. The are the definition of "keeping the performance fresh" from night to night.

An as if they did not have enough to focus on, they add another element: specificity.

They force themselves to distill the play they are portraying down to one element and play only that. In 500 Clown Macbeth, it is ambition. A crown is suspended above the stage. The rest of the play is about the clowns trying to over come every obstacle to attain it. The begin by working together, but pretty soon they realize that their biggest obstacle is each other.

Always funny, often disturbing and always affecting, 500 Clown (Macbeth/Frankenstein/Christmas) is a must see. You will find yourself drawn into theatre in a way you are unaccustomed to... and you will go back for more.

Happy Birthday: Yasmina Reza

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