We had the great pleasure to check out
500 Clown's first
ever show for kids. It was a galumphing, cavorting, improvisational
implosion of fun. We even got in on a free ice cream after
party, a regular occurrence at Adventure Stage that had my son
resembling a Blue Tongued Skink.
What...Did my use of galumphing have you groping for Google?
It's really the most appropriate word that came exploding
into my brain during Trapped.
Back in my college theatre days,
Free Play: Improvisation in Life and
Art by Stephen
Nachmanovitch was (and still is) one of my favorite books.
Here's his take on the word:
Anthropologists have found "galumphing" to be one of
the prime talents that characterize higher life forms. Galumphing
is the immaculate rambunctiousness and seemingly inexhaustible
play-energy apparent in puppies, kittens, children, baby baboons -
and also in young communities and civilizations. Galumphing is the
seemingly useless elaboration and ornamentation of activity. It is
profligate, excessive, exaggerated, and
We galumph when we hop instead of walk,
when we take the scenic route instead of the efficient one, when we
play a game whose rules demand a limitation of our powers, when we
are interested in means rather than in ends. We voluntarily create
obstacles in our path and then enjoy overcoming them. In the higher
animals and in people, it is of supreme evolutionary
Oh yes. THIS is what the trio, known as
500 Clown,does so well
in Trapped. I've seen
plenty of adults doing children's theatre over the years, who try
to play like children, with varying degrees of success.
500 Clownnailed it, wrapped it
in caution tape, and took it to a whole new level.
Could it be because mastermind, maestro clown, Adrian (AKA:
Bruce), is also the father of two young sons and has a front
row seat to authentic child's play on a daily basis?
I thoroughly enjoyed
Trapped, as I've been a sucker
for improv since I discovered Chicagoan Viola
Spolin'simprov games in a high school
class. Back in the late 80's I even founded an improv
troupe at Miami University that's still going strong 24 years
later. And it's this grand tradition that
500 Clown continues-bringing
acting games, obstacles and challenges to the stage as performance
instead of just practice. That's really what
Trapped is at the core...one
big improv game. Find your YES, indeed. It's
also a whole (or is that HOLE?) lot of fun.
I've been a fan of 500
Clown's adult pieces like
500 Clown Frankenstein
and 500 Clown Macbeth
for years, and we did see some of the cast in Chicago
Children's Theatre's Go Dog
Go, a few years back as well. In fact,
if there was any minor disappointment with
Trapped, it's that there wasn't
more of the gasp inducing scaffolding work and multi level
gymnastic feats, we've come to love and expect. I'd
love to seeTrapped
remounted within a life sized game of Mousetrap.
That said, the family did enjoy the production.
500 Clown expertly pulls the
audience in and breaks down the 3rd wall by literally climbing up
and over the audience, scaling the seating like a mountain.
They grab our attention early with a madcap parade full of booming
drums and wacky costumes, and they don't let go. Then
they involve everyone in their multilevel mental and physical
Be sure to stay for the Q & A-one of the coolest ongoing
features of all Adventure Stage productions. You can
find out how old the characters were when each began acting, ask
burning questions about the show, or offer your own creative
We all hope this is just the first of many more family
friendly 500 Clown
pieces to come. Trapped is highly recommended.
Catch 'em before they escape.
500 Clown and Adventure Stage Chicago proudly present
the world premiere of 500 CLOWN TRAPPED, conceived by 500 Clown
Producing Artistic Director Adrian Danzig and directed by Paola
Experience 500 Clown's signature mix of daring physicality,
tricky sets, raw emotion and powerful storytelling! Starting the
show in the guise of musicians, three clowns explore what it truly
means to be trapped...and to be set free. Who sets these traps? Who
benefits from them? Are they even real? Using slapstick mishaps,
vaudevillian turns and untiring resilience, the clowns struggle to
move beyond their own limitations as they search for the answers
they need. Recommended for all ages.
Adrian Danzig was driven to create 500 CLOWN TRAPPED
because500 Clown has been
asked for a decade if it does children's shows, and the answer has
always been a resounding NO. But at a certain point, the 500 Clown
members began to ask themselves...why
not create a show specifically aimed at breaking the boundaries of
age-based theater? (Why not humbly and excitedly stand atop the
awesome shoulders of Looney Tunes, Chaplin and Keaton?) These
questions, combined with a deep inquiry into the roots of
traditional red-nose clown, are the foundation for this new
The partnership between 500 Clown and Adventure Stage
Chicago sprang from a mutual affinity between two men as people,
parents and artists. Mr. Danzig and Adventure Stage Producing
Artistic Director Tom Arvetis first met as fathers in a cooperative
child care center, so creative parenting and playful learning are
at the heart of their relationship. The
huge knowledge and high level of integrity that Adventure Stage has
about shows for younger audiences provided 500 Clown a perfect
opportunity for collaboration and
In addition to writing 500 CLOWN TRAPPED, Adrian Danzig also
serves as the show's scenic designer and appears as a performer
alongside Timothy Heck and Leah Urzendowski. Stage management is
provided by Clare Roche, with lighting design by Lee Keenan and
costume design by Erin Cook. The show is directed by Paola
500 CLOWN TRAPPED was commissioned by The College of Saint
Benedict/Saint John's University and is partly supported by The
Boeing Company and an Access to Artistic Excellence grant from the
National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). This is Adventure Stage's
fourth NEA grant in the last seven years.
Adventure Stage's Education Department produces a
Learning Guide for all of their productions. This guide includes
fun background information about the show, pre-show and post-show
discussion questions, as well as art and language activities. While
they primarily make it for educators, they think parents should
check it out as well.
Click here to join the fun!
Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a writer-photographer-potter-painter-actress-animal wrangler-general creatrix and Mama to two amazing kiddos.
See more of Bonnie's stories here.
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