Thomas Sydenham (10 September 1624 – 29 December 1689) was an English physician. He was the author of Observationes Medicae which became a standard textbook of medicine for two centuries so that he became known as ‘The English Hippocrates‘. Among his many achievements was the discovery of a disease, Sydenham’s Chorea, also known as St Vitus’ Dance.
Dario Fo, actor, playwright, theatre director, stage designer, political activist, artist and author who, having attained international fame in theatre, produced the first of his six novels at the age of 88 – was there any limit to his versatile genius? He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and works such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist or Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay secured his reputation as the outstanding political playwright of his age. Unlike other writers of a similar mind, Fo’s chosen genre was farce, so his drama is a uniquely engaging mixture of laughter and anger. In 1954 he married Franca Rame, a member of a family-company of touring players. The personal and professional partnership of the two over sixty years was probably unique in theatre history. Her inherited, instinctive knowledge of stagecraft was invaluable to him, but although she was always recognized as an actor of considerable talent, her contribution to the writing of the plays was long undervalued. With the emergence of the feminist movement, she increasingly asserted herself, notably with a series of one-woman works she wrote and performed. She became one of Italy’s and Europe’s leading feminist campaigners, and as such a target for right-wing terrorist groups. In 1973, she was kidnapped and raped by neo-Fascist thugs. Although the subjects of their plays, with their fearless attacks on corruption and satire of Popes and politicians, were often taken from the headlines of the day, their theatre was deeply rooted in theatrical tradition. The Nobel Prize citation stated that Fo ‘emulated the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden’, but this political campaigning came at a cost. The couple’s militant reputation meant that they were for many years barred from Italian television and banned from entering the USA, but their plays were staged from London to Tokyo and they themselves were acclaimed wherever they toured. Joseph Farrell translated many of their works and knew Dario and Franca well. His biography is a complete account of the various activities and multifaceted lives of two extraordinary individuals
The NYC Physical Comedy Lab —or “fiz com lab” for short— is not a class, not a workshop, but a jam of practitioners in a field that includes clowns, circus and variety artists, dancers, mimes, comic actors, etc. Different people come each week, and out-of-town guests are always welcome. We share warmups, games, improvs, skills, gags, and works-in-progress. Very little is planned, every week is different, but usually, one idea leads to another to another and we arrive somewhere new.
We usually create some kind of a scenario by the end of the 3 hours combining the skills worked on that day.
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I think of it as a research lab, meaning we are free to explore whatever without the time constraints of a workshop intensive or of a show about to open. We don’t have to jump to a final product but can just aimlessly play with objects and movement to see what we might discover. During Jim’s visit, we did a warmup with different people leading different stretches, then played a wild and wacky movement game involving all kinds of objects and patterns, then had a knife-throwing lesson from magician Ben Robinson, which had everyone channeling their inner Jim Bowie or Davy Crockett.
Then we continued last week’s experiment with repeating patterns of people and objects passing through our MTW (modular trickwork wall), only this time we transferred the concept to more of a story, a sort of human Rube Goldberg machine, a high-speed mechanical restaurant with Ben Model as our repeat customer.
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For more information and location of the lab check out the Facebook Page HERE!
Michael Bongar was the featured performer at the November 2009 NY Downtown Clown Revue. Coming from a theatre background but being enticed by the circus, Michael tells us about his move from theatre to clown and what things he thinks are important to the discipline of the clown.
Michael Bongar sheds his three-piece suit for this wild excerpt from his one-man show MAGIC MIKE. A wonderful mockery of mediocre magic and the people that perform it.
And here is a wonderful video Michael used to promote his business BongarBiz.
Many of New York’s finest variety performers are hired by Michael Bongar (BongarBiz) for any number of different kinds of shows/events. He really deserves a lot of credit for featuring many acts in many jobs for quite a few years!
My hat goes off to Michael – Thanks for helping keep the variety-arts and clown community alive!
The Muse Brooklyn and Clowns Without Borders come together for a night of fun, laughter, and celebration! At the Clowns Without Borders First Annual Benefit Showcase, witness the spectacular artistry and strength of The Muse acrobats, jugglers, and aerialists. Experience the silly, heartwarming charm of the CWB clowns. The show will also feature a hilarious solo performance by Hilary Chaplain, and a TEDtalk by Molly Levine about the importance of laughter in CWB relief work. The show is kid-friendly, but not exclusively kid-focused. Doors open at 7:30 pm.
In places where resources are scarce, laughter can be abundant. Clowns Without Borders (CWB) brings small teams of professional artists to perform in refugee camps, conflict zones, and sites of a natural disaster.In 1993, a letter from Croatian refugees to Spanish clown Tortell Pontrona sparked engagement. “You know what we miss most? We miss laughter.” From there, CWB was born. Since then, it has grown to an international NGO, with chapters in 14 countries, reaching over 400,000 displaced children a year.
Our work takes us to the beaches of Lesvos, Greece, the hills of rural El Salvador, the deserts of South Sudan. Though the audience changes, the result is the same. An invitation to play is sometimes all that is needed to help recapture a sense of childhood. We are reminded time and time again, that we all laugh in the same language.
Like laughter, our impact ripples outward, energizing children and the adults who care for them. In a world often divided and stark, Clowns Without Borders proudly co-creates and collaborates cross-culturally.
Come learn about how laughter creates community and builds resilience.
An international clown duo, combining their talents and sense of humor, depart on an absurd adventure. Whether they are singing, spitting on each other or painting fine art, it all seems to make sense until they make a left turn or a U-turn or park illegally. Just imagine slapstick and circus skills with the good looks of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Performed, written and directed by Tim Tyler and Joe DePaul.
Right away you begin to laugh at these two wonderful performers.
The routines are timed perfectly and get some serious laughs.
A uke and wonderfully funny voice with voice sound effects.
It is hard to describe the antics these two perform in the show. Go see it!
Christmas time. Wake Up!
King Kong is loose in the theater. Watch out!
It is a very funny show! If they happen to be performing near you go see them!
After watching the film at DocNYC I had to find out more about this wonderful, heartfelt documentary that Larry Pisoni’s son Lorenzo made about his experiences growing up in The Pickle Family Circus. In the lobby, I approached Lorenzo and ask if he would be up for a video interview?
Here it is. A wonderful talk about the film, his show Humor Abuse and his life during the making of his ‘first director’ experience.
John Towsen’s CLOWNS book” width=”530″ height=”791″ />
I had a hardcover copy and ended up giving it to Slava when he came to town with Cirque de Soleil. John also happened to be one of the coproducers of the First NY Clown Theater Festival in 1983. Here is an NY Times review.
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For more writing by John H. Towsen visit his blog which is devoted to physical comedy. ALL FALL DOWN.