On May 30-31 we are offering a studio class for adults in Clowning and Commedia taught by Daniel Passer. Daniel is an acclaimed Cirque du Soleil Clown, Comedy Conceptor and Master Teacher at CalArts, Harvard, Brown University, The Second City and The Moscow Art Theatre. Most recently, he played the lead clown in the world tour of Cirque du Soleil’s latest spectacle Zarkana directed by Francois Girard. You can find out more about Daniel’s extensive body of work by visiting his website: www.danielpasser.com or read our interview with him below.
LWT: How did you become a theatre artist?
DP: My mother used to perform in old age homes with a bunch of other middle aged matrons (translation: housewives and mothers). I must have been 4 or 5 at the time. I still remember the outfits they wore – I think they were red white and blue skirts and blouses and sometimes they would don a cardboard stars and stripes hat. They sang a lot of George M. Cohan mixed in with 1920’s poo poo pee doo songs. I would run free in the audience – climbing on the wheelchairs and pulling their necks. The joy these women brought these kind old folks was priceless and I felt myself an essential part of that experience. I didn’t have an inkling then that 40 (something) years later I would be earning my living crawling through an audience and pulling the necks of over 2000 people a night at Radio City Music Hall.
LWT: What is your teaching philosophy?
DP: Joy and Rigor. Playing like a child and playing with total commitment and intention. We all had it as kids. The challenge is getting our “put together” adult selves out of the way.
LWT: Could you briefly explain the technique you will be teaching in your class?
DP: It’s not really linear, but here goes. This is what I send to my prospective students:
Delving into the beautiful chaos and ferocious simplicity of your individual Fool.
Exercises will be customized to each player as we investigate playing and playing hard.
This is a place to further explore or find anew. Discover, Surprise and Offend your senses!
Hasn’t it been long enough since recess? Run Wild. And be ready to Belly Flop!
LWT: Is your class appropriate for those with little to no acting experience?
DP: Sometimes, the individuals who really click in Clown Work are those with little or no experience. I think this is because they can’t help but approach the play with a beginners mind.
LWT: What can students expect to gain from taking your class?
DP: I can only speak from experience about how this work benefits theatre practitioners. In Drama School, I was introduced to 2 techniques that completely changed/enhanced the way I played as an actor. The first was Clown which I had the great fortune to study under a wonderful teacher. The second was Viewpoints which I practiced under the direction of Tina Landau and Beth Milles. Both of these forms are completely focused on moment to moment work and being present.
LWT: What is one piece of advice you would give other theatre artists?
DP: Difficult question. In general, I stay away from giving advice to other theatre artists as I feel it’s such an individual journey. Maybe that’s it. I wish someone had told me that when I was first starting out. There’s no one path.
About the Class:
Clowning and Commedia with Daniel Passer
Saturday, May 30 from 10am-1pm and Sunday, May 31 from 1pm-4pm
Ages 18+; Cost: $125
In this two day master class, participants will explore the elements of clowning and Commedia dell’Arte. There is no need to be physically fit—or need to have any previous experience with clowning—this is a place to explore further or start anew. Exercises will be customized to each player as we investigate playing and playing hard. Discover, surprise and offend your senses! When was the last time you let loose?
For more information or to register contact Mallory Pellegrino at 203.772.8272
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
– Mallory Pellegrino