Monday, March 15, 2010

Cabaret Cabron at the NCI & the Photography of Manel Sala "Ulls" — Live from Barcelona #6

[post 086]

There's a cabaret performance each of the four Saturday nights as part of the month-long curriculum at the Nouveau Clown Institute. I was involved in the first one and even shot some Flip camera video of it. Unfortunately, I later lost the camera with the second-half footage on it. Fortunately, the still photography shot by Manel Sala "Ulls" is extraordinary enough to ease my pain. Click here or on the image to go to his Picasa album of the first cabaret at the The Coco Loconuts Club.

Manel is clearly Europe's answer to Jim Moore. His Picasa home page has 101 albums, and the vast majority are devoted to circus, clown and cabaret performers, as these screen shots of just some of his albums show:

And for the latest stuff, check out his excellent blog, Circ .. Manel Sala "Ulls"

But back to that first week's cabaret. A lot of it was put together day-of, but the results were pretty strong, especially for performers working together for the first time. Here are two pieces from the first half, shot from not a perfect angle with my late great Flip camera.

If you watched the first slide show, you might be wondering what all those gleaming bare asses belonging to luxuriously-oiled men were doing in a clown cabaret. Well, they were the Las Vegas Acrobats, as choreographed by Grada Peskens, though no doubt inspired by that Jango Edwards fellow. The challenge here for the performers was to do the act with the utmost conviction, what Jango likes to speak of as one of the twenty axioms of clowning: attitude. Simply put, you the performer have to believe 100% in what you are doing if you want the audience to. Or as Eddie Cantor once said of Laurel & Hardy: "It's their seriousness that strikes me. They play everything as if it might be Macbeth or Hamlet."

If for some reason you want a better view of all that flesh, you'll have to check out Manel's album.

This next piece grew out of my physical comedy class, and I was very pleased with the creativity the students brought to it. We had been working on chase scenes, a trademark of physical comedy but also a cliché. (Or as Chaplin once complained, must every movie end with a chase?) And for us indoor clowns, without cars and trains and broad avenues and hundreds of cops, what's possible? The challenge became to draw upon the elements of the chase, but to expand the possibilities by going beyond naturalism, playing with rhythms and embracing the absurd. Six or seven different pieces were created in class and none of them, I'm proud to say, resembled a conventional chase. This piece is based on the famous running of the bulls popular in Pamplona and other Spanish towns.

First a few high-rez stills to make up for the low-rez video.

And here's the video....

Curtain call. Moi (left) with Jango (in a suit!) and Grada.

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