Christine Lesiak not only likes clowning around, clowning has changed her life.
“It fundamentally changes you, because everything becomes funnier,” she said.
Lesiak co-stars with fellow Edmontonian Adam Keefe in a clown comedy called Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, which runs at 7:30 p.m. from Nov. 19 to 21 at The Matchbox theatre in Red Deer.
The Small Matters production, which was a huge hit with audiences at last summer’s Bohemian Rhapsody and the Edmonton Fringe Festival, could be thought of as When Harry Met Sally performed in clown-face, said Lesiak.
This is a clown show for adults, not kids — “It’s a PG-13 kind of show” — about a romantic journey.
As the publicity release states: Lesiak’s female clown, Sheshells, and Keefe’s “guy’s-guy” clown, Rocket, “just want to find everlasting love, or at least a date that doesn’t suck.”
The would-be lovers embark on romantic adventures that reach the same highs and lows as anybody who’s ever loved has experienced — from the first flush of admiration to the dark clouds of breakup.
But why do it all in clown-face?
Lesiak explained, “We believe that clowns allow us to hold a mirror up to the human condition.”
The exaggerated “unreality” of the clown world really puts life’s realities into focus, she added.
“We deal with very real situations, and some of them are very funny and some are tragically sad.”
Clowns are child-like in the sense that they live in the moment and wear all their emotions on their sleeve. In that way, they can immediately connect to audience members — or, at least, to most of them.
While the show, co-created by Anna Bado and directed by Alberta’s own clowning expert, University of Alberta theatre instructor Jan Henderson, has received standing ovations in Red Deer and Edmonton, a few theatre critics weren’t as enamoured.
Are the mean old critics just too jaded for clowns?
Lesiak thinks that’s possible, since the criteria for enjoyment seems to be coming with an open heart and mind.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love? is partly scripted — if you can call a show with virtually no words that. But it also relies on improvisation and audience participation.
Lesiak, who has a background in physics, as well as improvisation with Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre, admitted she wasn’t sure about clowning when a friend suggested she take a workshop.
But it only took one day of experimenting with the theatrical form before she was hooked. “I knew this was clearly my calling.”
Clowning is not only spontaneous enough to keep you on your toes as a performer, but it also touches the very essence of who you are as a person, she said.
“Your clown is more you than you are.”
Tickets are $15 ($12 seniors and students) from The Matchbox box office or at the door.