Toronto stage director, actor and clown extraordinaire Leah Cherniak teams up with 12 up-and-coming actors in York’s theatre program to create a true original – The Clown Show: A Tragedy.
The Lecoq-trained Cherniak leads the company through the process of creative collaboration and shares the result on stage in this unique Theatre @ York production. Prepare to laugh and cry with The Clown Show.
Previews are Sunday and Monday, Jan. 27-28, at 7:30pm, while the official opening is Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 7:30pm with nightly shows at the same time until Saturday, Feb. 2. There are also two matinees – Wednesday, Jan. 30, and Friday, Feb 1, both at 1pm. All shows are at the Robert & Julia Foster Acting Studio, Accolade East Building, Keele campus.
Left: Leah Cherniak
Steeped in the spirit of play, invention and physical expressiveness that define the art of clowning, this collective creation was shaped with minimal external props.
"We began creating this show with nothing at all. There was no script, no characters, no costumes," said Cherniak.
The cast members – each equipped with little more than a red nose, a favourite pair of shoes and a hat – draw from deep inside themselves to search out, discover and transform into their own clowns. Vulnerable, inventive, generous, dynamic, rough-and-ready, these clowns concoct a show, a cabaret, or even a tragedy of sorts, reflecting the world around us.
"There are as many ways to be funny as there are people willing to try it," said Cherniak. "Finding your own clown is a very personal journey. The process can be difficult, but the rewards are great. When we find what is funny about us, it can show us – and our audience – a new way of looking at our world."
From the medieval court jester, the native trickster, the Fratellini Brothers or Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon to Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Bean – some form of clown has existed in every culture and throughout history.
Leah Cherniak is co-artistic director with Martha Ross of Toronto’s Theatre Columbus. The company has created over 25 new plays as well as mounting innovative productions of classics. Cherniak has directed most of Theatre Columbus’ repertoire, including Hotel Loopy, Gynty (adapted from Ibsen’s Peer Gynt), The Cherry Orchard and The Betrayal (which won a Chalmers Award for Playwriting). She co-created and directed the multi-award winning play, The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine, which has been produced all over the world from Labrador to Cuba and from Prague to Los Angeles. She also created and played the role of Jelly in The Attic, The Pearls and 3 Fine Girls for Theatre Columbus.
Cherniak also directs for other theatres such as Tarragon Theatre, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, Blyth Festival and many others.
Theatre @ York, the production company of the Department of Theatre, Faculty of Fine Arts, has been entertaining audiences for more than 35 years. The company’s playbill features contemporary and classical repertoire, including Toronto and Canadian premieres, showcasing some of Canada’s most promising stage talent.
Admission is pay-what-you-can for the Jan. 27 preview and $5 for the Jan. 28 preview. It is $15 for the regular run, students/seniors $10.