All together I posted 73 times in 2019! Over 1000 views per month. Pretty good for an ‘eccentric’ performing arts blog!
You can use the drop-down menu for Month to Month Archive viewing. I will list some of the highlights here.
Dec 2019 – Interview with Cirque Mechanics Chris Lashua ~ Interview with Coney Island’s own Dick Zigun – Sideshow Hall of Fame.
November 2019 – Corn Mo and The Love Show ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Hilary Chaplain ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue ~ Karen Gersch Portfolio ~ Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ Martin Ewen’s ‘Panto Damascus’.
October 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Kevin Venardos.
September 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Noah Diamond & Amanda Sisk ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Adrienne Truscott.
August 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Tammy Faye Starlite ~ Ernie Kovacs Centennial Panel Discussion ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Dick Zigun – ‘Bloody Brains in the Juke Box’ ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Sarah the Bird Girl ~ The Seashore Variety Hour
July 2019 – Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Benefit ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Amber Martin ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Tyler West.
June 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Trav SD ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Bill Bowers ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Mallory Catlett ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Ralph Lewis ~ Bindlestiff’s ‘brooklyn abridged’ show ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Kevin Augustine ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Everett Quinton. ‘Galas’.
May 2019 – A.J. Silver – A Cowboy from the Bronx ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Boxcutter Collective.
April 2019 – Congress of Curious People – James Taylor ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Greg Dubin ~ Vaudevisuals interview with A.J. Silver ~ Trav SD’s American Vaudeville Theatre.
March 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with John Jesurun & Nicky Paraiso ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Coney Island Ritual Cabaret Festival.
February 2019 – Coffeehouse Chronicles: Ethyl Eichelberger ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage at Big Apple Circus ~ Lord Buckley by Heathcote Williams.
January 2019 – Vaudevisuals Bookshelf: ‘Atomic Clown’ by Sara Moore ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage ~ Tribute To Rob Torres.
Sofia Brünn, a Weimar cabaret star from the 1930’s Berlin finds herself transplanted to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. During her time in the camp, she forges an unlikely friendship with Pavel, a rat. Despite the lack of food that has driven away the rest of his kind, Pavel remains with her out of his love for her and her art.
This is a show about resistance and hope, and the need to fill the soul as well as the body. A dark comedy, The Last Rat of Theresienstadt is a low tech, multi-media play with music, puppetry and live-action projections that incorporate original songs, artwork, poetry, and humor created by prisoners in Theresienstadt.
If anyone knows about the circus it is Karen E. Gersch. She has performed, created and directed circus and painted, drawn and illustrated it. Her work is beautiful and captures the whimsical nature of the circus soul. Here are a few choice examples of Karen’s work with her descriptive text.
The ‘Nickel’ in this oil painting, “Nickel Storms the Ring” was my teacher and mentor, Nina Krasavina, a star acrobat, aerialist ad the first woman clown ever to grace the ring of the Moscow Circus. After defecting to NYC in the mid-’70s with her husband, Gregory Fedin, they traveled with 3-ring circuses throughout the US and Canada. Nina and Grefory opened their own school, the Circus Arts Center, in an abandoned department store in Hoboken, which they ran for years, training many acts that had longtime professional careers.
“Gordoon”: acrylic on canvas portrait of Jeff Gordon, whose inventive and acrobatic routines made him a beloved and longtime featured performer with the Big Apple Circus, as well as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros., Walt Disney World, and various NYC theatre productions.
“Kenny Raskin/New York Goofs”. Kenny is a physical comedian whose diverse and charming character work enlightens every stage, be it on Broadway, off-off-Broadway or Cirque du Soleil. He is someone I never tire of sketching; captured here during a New York Goofs engagement.
“Little Tich” and his Big Boots Dance was a headlining act of the English music halls in the early 1900s. Tich (Harry Relph) was only 4’6” tall, but left large footprints with his eccentric and energetic dance routines, combining balancing skills with acrobatics. The slender wooden boots he performed in were 28 inches long! Relph is considered the forerunner of all screen comedy.
Darja is a Latvian-born acrobat whose professional partners happen to be small dogs and a potpourri of cats. The setting for her act is a living room, complete with two dressers, a nightstand, and an oval carpet. The drawers glide open and cats climb gracefully out, then jump in an arc to her shoulders, where they run and balance along with her extended limbs, as she turns walkovers, handstands, cartwheels, and splits. A dog poses perfectly on her top hat while she executes back rolls and contortional poses.
Darja performs primarily in Russia and Europe, in circuses, cabarets, and theaters. Her animals travel with her – in carriers to the stage, but live uncaged in her hotel room, where they all share her bed. I know, because I had the room next door to her in Leipzig, Germany, and was serenaded by her Siamese and Egyptian cats, who sang gustily all night!
“Richard Hayes”, also a British Music Hall performer, was a noted juggler and silent, deadpan comedian, often billed as “The Laziest Juggler in the World”. His oversized head, languid manner, and slow-motion moves distinguished his ball juggling routines.
This is a very early pastel sketch of Hilary Chaplain (1990’s) from the CircuSundays Series I used to run. Hilary is one of the most prolifically funny and hardest working physical comediennes, whose recent work has delved deeply into emotional and historical elements. In particular, her current production “The Last Rat of Theresienstadt” which takes place in the “Ghetto town”/concentration camp of Theresienstadt during the Holocaust. Following a successful run in Europe, where she garnered top awards, the show will be presented at The Wild Project on November 13th and 14th.
“Senor and Friend”. Senor Wences began his career as an unsuccessful bullfighter before becoming a gifted ventriloquist. The Spanish performer was one of the highest-paid and most popular Vaudevillian acts in the world and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show throughout the ’50s and ’60s. Wences died at the age of 103 in Manhattan.
“Slava’s Snow Show”. I first saw Slava Polunin in Cirque du Soleil’s production of Alegria, back in the 80’s, and was delighted by his simplistic and organic clowning (finally oversized clown proboscis and makeup used well by the clowns who wore them!) His signature romantic imagery, the surreal environments and emotional physical work he creates were resurrected in his first “Snow Show” that appeared on Broadway. This drawing was one of many rendered from his second run in NYC at Union Square.
Born in Prague, Tomas Kubinek and his parents fled the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia and settled in Ontario, Canada, when he was only 3. He fell in love with circus and clowns, began performing as a child and has never stopped, regularly traversing the globe with his imaginative and eccentric solo shows.
“Waldo & Woodhead” (Paul Burke and Mark Keppel) were a couple of wild and zany guys, whose character-driven physical comedy and strong partner juggling made them a well known performing sensation around the globe. This painting, exhibited at several IJA Conventions, was sold three years ago.
For more information or to see other artwork, visit:
If someone ask you ‘what is the best way to becoming a professional clown’ you might have to think about it for awhile. THE CLOWN CONSERVATORY!
Ringling Bros clown Paul Jerome.
“Circus Center’s nearly 20-year-old Clown Conservatory program has been given a spirited, innovative push by Conservatory director Sara Moore’s ‘Human Cartoon Studio.’ Moore’s take on new American clowning pulls straight from the realm of Looney Tunes with an emphasis on wildly physical, non-verbal performance encompassing training for Ring, Stage and Film. Graduates are then ‘human cannonballed’ into the world armed with an elasticity of body, mind and spirit affording them the necessary versatility to compete in ever-shifting markets. In spite of the ridiculous onslaught on horror clown imagery, Moore believes Clowning is on the rise. Students are passionately seeking ways to bring physical comedy to our ever-divided world and ClownCon’s faculty, an amalgam of the very best practitioners and teachers of the many Clown disciplines, are ever eager to teach them. Moore says ‘If laughter is the most buoyant form of love, then that’s surely what the world needs now more than ever.'”
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For more information or to ‘just enroll’ click here!
In 2010 I had a concept in my head one day that I should photograph my favorite subjects (Clowns) without their performance costume and makeup and match it with a performance shot. The ‘Unmask’ shot would be black and white and the performance shot in color. I decided to call it The Clown UnMask. I began shooting in Feb. 2010 with one of the funniest clowns I know and admire. Glen Heroy.
I followed up with many more (almost 50) until I stopped shooting the series in 2016. Here is a comprehensive list of the performers (with links to the original posts) I documented in my ‘hallway’ studio. In the order in which I photographed them. Full post are reached by using the links. Some portrait are provided for visual excitement!
(The wall came down in 2016 so the series was discontinued)
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!
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.
“Hilary is a master teacher. She creates a safe, playful, fun learning environment for people of all skill levels. I learned a great deal about developing as a clown, connecting to other clowns and the audience. And doing everything with intention and love.” Marian Rich, NYC student.
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“Enjoyed the workshop – great, simple, always needed focusonlistening for and growing the game WITH your partner FOR the audience. It was a good amount of risk for me too – started safe, got riskier, but never terrifying. Appreciated you framing the “taking steps forward” exercise as hard to do but good to learn from.
Sarah Peterseil – performer and co-founder of Under The Table, Hospital Clown, Big Apple Circus
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“That hour with you made ALL the difference. You are an incredible director, and it was such an amazing experience for me to sense immediately yourtalentand expertise and that I could let go and trust what you had to say.