Episode 109: Send in the WOW
Riley doesn’t believe she can be much of a jester until Bill Irwin shows the Greenies how to find their inner clown with the help of Cirque du Soleil.
Featured Art: Circus/Clowning
Clowning has much of its roots in Vaudeville stage acts – much of the physical comedy is a classic throwback to the days of Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers. But the style is a timeless classic and endures today: many gags from childrens’ television cartoons take their outlandish gags from the world of clowning.
Clowning takes skillsets honed by improv and acting, such as pantomime and expressive body language, and amplifies them to a completely new degree. In addition to gags and miming, clowns can hide secret skills like juggling and acrobatics. Bill Irwin and Cirque du Soleil help out here, providing the Greenies (and Hugo!) with an up-close look at the range of acts one might see at the circus.
Clowns may feel like old news, but laughter will never be out of style. Clowns are experts at playing on the audience for laughs, using pranks or wacky outfits to catch folks off guard. When Riley needs help inhabiting the character of a jester, a clown is the perfect teacher to have her tap in to her inner funny! And in fact, if you look closely, you can see the influence of clowns in the efforts of online video personalities or late-night television hosts.
Schools have their fair share of class clowns to deal with already, but clowning skills can be honed in any number of arenas: theater class, gymnastics teams, public speaking courses, or an improv school. Be cautioned - it’s important to always stay safe when attempting acrobatic maneuvers or trying skills like juggling.
In Cirque Du Soleil Paramour, the search for love, happiness, and fame jumps off the silver screen and unfolds on the Broadway stage. Travel back to the Golden Age of Hollywood where the stars shine brighter, the glitz is glitzier, and zoot suits are somehow fashionable. A director searching for his next big hit, finds it in a small-town actress, and before you know it, a star is airborne! Variety says “It will knock you right between the eyes.” So, hold your breath, because the rise to fame isn’t just a stunt. The first and only Cirque du Soleil musical spectacle: Paramour.
The production features at least 15 different circus arts disciplines, many of which have never appeared on Broadway. The disciplines cover aerial strap artists, banquine, Chinese pole, contortion, cyr wheel, hand to hand, hand to trapeze, juggling, lyra, Russian bar, Spanish web, teeterboard, tumbling, trampoline, and trapeze.
Paramour, a Cirque du Soleil musical, began performances Saturday, April 16 at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre, and will end its run on April 15, 2017.
The show has also had remarkable response from Cirque du Soleil and Broadway fans alike, receiving standing ovations nightly and audiences are gathering at the stage door to collect autographs from the cast.
Warm Up Game: Make Me Laugh
Everyone loves to laugh. Episode Nine, our clown episode, opens up with a fitting warmup: Make Me Laugh!
The Greenies all don red noses to play the game. But there’s no nose required. All you’ll need is fun, and a sense of humor. Gus throws out a few suggestions: Fall down, juggle, or squirt flowers. But if you don’t have props or a safe place to fall, give the Greenie’s methods a try:
Fizz imitates an animal, and does a pantomime of swimming backwards.
Spike imitates an animal as well, complete with sound effects and some rhymes.
Peri does a fake slip, followed by a dance!
Hank tells a classic joke, with a setup and a punch line.
Hugo flies away with a propeller hat.
Can you imitate an animal like Spike or Fizz? What can you think of that’s funny? Follow the Greenies or do something of your own!