BWW Interviews: CORY THE CLOWN a.k.a. Cory Riback Talks FUN WITH STEM
CORY THE CLOWN a.k.a. Cory Riback, stars in this new musical, FUN WITH STEM, featuring a spectacular blend of live action, comedy, music, magic, robotic puppets and juggling. FUN WITH STEM, created by Cory Riback, and presented by Learn with Laughter, merges education with multimedia entertainment by introducing children to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts. The cast includes robotic puppets, Fiona and the Circus Gang.
Rush out and see FUN WITH STEM at the Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal performing Arts Center, March 28-April 6. Tickets are on sale at Blumenthal Performing Arts Box Office: 704-372-1000 and BlumenthalArts.org. Enchanting entertainment for the whole family!
As a family member, I had the opportunity to interview Cory over breakfast. He was having a quick bowl of cereal before heading to his workshop to finish a puppet.
LAW: Being a clown is a unique profession. How did you get your start as "Cory the Clown"?
CTC: I have fun seeing people laugh. I started making puppets and performing shows in NY public libraries when I was 12 years old. "Cory the Clown" started when I was in high school majoring in film production at School of Art and Design in Manhattan. I needed money to purchase a camera and editing equipment. I was walking in Great Adventures Amusement Park, when I noticed balloons for sale. I asked the owner, if he had a clown selling balloons, would he sell more. He said, "Yes, are you a clown?" I said, "Yes I am", hence, "Cory the Clown". I put on grease paint and found a costume. It was a great learning experience, clowning with the people in the park. I was good at it. I sold out his balloon stock.
LAW: Did you go to clowning school?
CTC: No... My film teacher suggested mime to help with body isolation to steady the camera when shooting. So, I studied mime with Keith Burger and later with mime legend, Marcel Marceau. That helped with my physical gestures as a clown and it also actually improved my camera work [laughs]. From there, I performed in a one-ring circus working with some very talented acts. I also learned from watching films of the old vaudevillians like W.C. Fields and I learned while working. I was the opening act for Gloria Gaynor at Madison Square Garden and I've performed more than 8,000 shows-to-date.
LAW: Wow, that's a lot of shows. Where did you perform those shows?
CTC: All over,... New York, New England, California, Hawaii, the Carolinas... I've performed for most of the U.S. presidents and for many celebrities. I've appeared in commercials for AT&T, Fosters Beer, print ads for Del Monte and Panasonic, in the movie, Nevada and on the television series, Entourage.
LAW: You've also starred in Cory's Learning Corner. How did that come about?
CTC: PBS Member station, WYES-TV, asked me to produce segments. Cory's Learning Corner taught all sorts of topics to children including segments on health and humanity. I have a strong belief that if we show children that it's important to have empathy and care in our world, our world will be a better place to live. My filmmaking experience worked great producing the segments. Celebrities also appeared with me including Betty White in Pet Care and the late, Sid Caesar in Laughter. The segments aired on 260 PBS member stations nationally.
LAW: How did FUN WITH STEM come about?
CTC: I was ready to do a new show and I was discussing it with a friend, Linda Beck with United Way of Central Carolinas. She was talking about the STEM programs in our Charlotte schools helping children succeed and we realized my show had the same STEM elements. It seemed to be a perfect match. We now have over 3,000 CMS elementary school children coming to this show as a field trip.
LAW: STEM has become such a "buzz" word. What does it stand for?
CTC: It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,... STEM. Instead of teaching each subject separately, students learn and advance more quickly when they approach these subjects as a whole, and work as a group or independently to find solutions and test them out.
LAW: What can audiences expect when they see this show?
CTC: They can expect a great show with live music and comedy! The audience will also interact with the action. During the show, "Cory the Clown" wants to water to water his plant, the audience helps, as he figures a "Rube Goldberg" way to make it happen. By clapping hands or stomping feet, the audience can make things happen onstage. Kinesthetic learning, by engaging the whole body is helpful when introducing new STEM concepts.
LAW: You mentioned you started building puppets when you were a child. This show has two robotic puppets, tell me about them.
CTC: Stan the Toucan is quite a puppet. He's larger than life. He has many motors, cables and moving parts. He can move, flap his wings, spin and talk. He's a "Disney" quality puppet, as is Darrel the Barrel. Children will enjoy the puppets, but also get a chance to see how they were built. This will include looking at the design and mechanics of the bird and seeing the computer software that allows them to move and talk.
LAW: What age range is this show targeted for?
CTC: The education segments are targeted for kindergarten-3rd, but the entertainment is for all ages.
LAW: How does FUN WITH STEM balance education with entertainment?
CTC: This is my first time out with FUN WITH STEM. CMS district is our partner and their teachers are reviewing the script. Children and families will enjoy the fun story with educational parts scattered throughout. The real insight into STEM begins after the story-line ends, and I explain that what the audience has experienced couldn't have happened without STEM. I will show how the robots work along with all the other elements. Hopefully, through my enthusiasm and excitement about STEM, children will be inspired.
LAW: What do you want audiences to take away from this show?
I hope children will leave the theater realizing that STEM can be fun. I would love to see our children in America get excited about learning. They are our future. Growing up in America is special to me; to be free and think freely. Our children have bright minds, and if FUN WITH STEM can inspire that "spark" of enthusiasm, then I've accomplished my goal.
For more information visit: FunwithSTEM.org and CorytheClown.com