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Couple of clowns bringing back comedy of the absurd

Aron De Casmaker, left, and Jesse Buck in a scene from Marooned.
Image Credit: Contributed
February 14, 2015 - 2:27 PM

KELOWNA - A new stage show presented by UBC Okanagan and Theatre26 explores the madness and isolation, joy and elation experienced by professional Cirque du Soleil clowns on the road.

Marooned debuts Thursday, Feb. 19, bringing a slice of surreal life from UBCO artists-in-residence Aron De Casmaker and Jesse Buck, who spent five years on tour as principle clowns in Cirque du Soleil’s production Alegria. With stops around the world — from Serbia and Siberia, to Idaho and Hawaii — the hit show toured through Kelowna in 2010.

Ripe with physical comedy and subversive wit, Marooned stages the duo’s dreamlike, and sometimes nightmarish, lives on the road.

De Casmaker compares Cirque tours to the Starship Enterprise.

“We had the opportunity to refine our art form — that is the dream, the yin to the yang,” he says. “But after a time, you feel like you’re touching down on strange planets. The audiences and cultures were fantastic, but they reveal a great deal of absurdity, too.”

De Casmaker talks about playing against the stigma clowns have, the disdain some in the audience have for the art.

“Crowds start to love you. You create a connection,” he says. “Then it’s over; you go back to a hotel room and you’re alone.”

No Clown is an Island

De Casmaker says the “otherworldiness” of life on the road creates a sense of isolation, where nothing is familiar. It brought the duo even closer and sharpened their powers of observation, which they refined into the concept of two clowns marooned on a strange, deserted island.

He says it’s about each individual person’s choices in life. He compares it to making the decision to go skydiving.

“You’ve jumped out of a perfectly good plane — now what?”

Friends for 20 years, since high school in Ottawa, De Casmaker says he shares a love of dark comedy with Jesse Buck.

He says they both have a very stupid and absurd sense of humour and the clowning took on a life of its own.

“And then we got to train in Paris under clown master Philippe Gaulier — he’s like Yoda, only French,” he says.

Over the course of five years in Cirque du Soleil’s world-renowned production company, they learned to specialize and hone their talents until they became “acrobats of stupidity.”

A scene from Marooned playing at UBC Okanagan’s University Theatre.
A scene from Marooned playing at UBC Okanagan’s University Theatre.
Image Credit: Contributed

Sleight of Hand

Marooned audiences can expect a PG-rated show full of comedy, absurdity, surprises, multimedia interaction — and a certain “sleight of hand to charm and trick audiences into laughing.”

De Casmaker and Buck are currently artists in residence for the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBCO, where they’re preparing to unveil Marooned for Okanagan audiences. In Kelowna for the winter semester, De Casmaker is also teaching two full-time courses: Clowning and Theatre Devising.

Marooned runs February 19, 20, 21 and 26, 27, 28, 2015 at 8 p.m. Saturday performances on Feb. 21 and 28 are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. All shows take place at University Theatre at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna. General admission is $20 and $15 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the door are at the UBC Okanagan Bookstore.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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