When you hear the world “clown” one of the first thing to pop into your head might be the traditional image of a multitude of circus clowns crammed into a tiny car, red noses pushed up against the window. At this week’s Festival des Clowns de Montreal, expect these traditions to be broken as the art of clown will be on display in all its marvellous, hilarious, and poignant iterations. This inaugural edition of the festival boasts four days of jam-packed programming featuring performers well known in our local community as well as acclaimed international clowns!
“I’ve had the idea about six years ago I went to the Toronto Clown Festival,” says Kendall Savage, the producer of the festival. She recognized that, as the circus capital of Canada, Montreal has the potential to be an incredible host to a festival celebrating clown. Savage herself has practiced clown for many years now after being ignited during a production with esteemed director Nathalie Claude, “I just had to give over to the fact that this was something I was really good at, this was something that made me happy.”
The lineup for the festival offers a menu of options, allowing audiences to taste-test a variety of clown styles. Performances include local favourites like the incredible acrobatics of Krin Haglund, who is presenting excerpts from her show The Rendez-Vous, and the comedy ballet burlesque mashup offered by Les Bunheads and Friends. Out of town artist Priscilla Costa tackles perversion and ecstasy through the clown of Mona Monaé, a piece in the style of Clown du Bouffon which takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery, desire, and visceral impulses. “Bouffon is like the cousin to clown,” describes Savage, “Its job is to get you to laugh at the things you normally wouldn’t, so you can learn something.” The festival also boasts international performance troupes, including The Submarine Show an award winning critically acclaimed piece of physical theatre about two men who crash their submarine on the bottom of the sea.
In a world wrought with negativity, taking a pause to breathe can be hard enough and turning that breath into laughter, even harder. Perhaps the unique opportunity to laugh is offered by the Festival des Clowns de Montreal. “One of the many jobs of the clown is to hold the mirror up to society so they can laugh at themselves. That’s really important for healing,” says Savage, reflecting on the role of the clown in society today, “It’s important to know that when there’s absolute chaos everywhere you can always stop and take a laugh and a breather. We need the fool to show us that no matter what you should never give up.”
Make the time this weekend to take in some amazing performances, allow yourself to reflect, to breathe, and most importantly to laugh. “Clown teaches us that in theatre, and in the world, and in our daily lives that we need to be honest with ourselves so that we can move forward,” says Savage. This is a festival certain to impress and to entertain.
Le Festival des Clowns de Montreal runs from September 29th to October 2nd with all performances taking place at MainLine Theatre (3997 St-Laurent). For the full schedule of performances (and trust us… it is full!) please refer to the festival website. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the MainLine Theatre website.
*Please note that not all performances are suitable for children.*