Photo Flash: LA's Clown School Shines in New Partnerships
The Clown School (TCS) in Los Angeles has been offering classes that explore various types of clown techniques since its 2007 inception by renowned clown instructors David Bridel and Orlando Pabotoy. The Clown School's cumulative Level 1 (Beginner), Level 2 (Intermediate) and Level 3 (Advanced) class curriculum is taught throughout the year by Bridel and student-turned-instructors Zach Steel and Mike Funt. Mr. Funt has also been working with the school on developing a children's clown class; he plans to begin teaching The Clown School for Kids in 2015. Scroll down for photos and a "Welcome to The Clown School" trailer!
After arranging the spectacularly successful visit to Los Angeles of world-renowned clown maestro Philippe Gaulier in 2013, this year, TCS has opened its doors to guest teaching artists like award-winning clown performer Dr. Brown (Phil Burgers), and Virginia Scott, a Christopher Bayes certified Clown teacher, and has added to its menu of offerings a new partnership class with Second City Hollywood taught by Mr. Steel. Between Burgers' recent September Intensive class and TCS's Level 1 class with Second City Hollywood, TCS has brought in close to 50 new students just this fall. The successes of each class sparked almost immediate reinstatement for both Burgers and Steel: Mr. Burgers is already back for round two, teaching a series of Masterclasses for advanced clowns, and Mr. Steel will be teaching another Level 1 class with Second City Hollywood beginning in February. TCS is confident that Ms. Scott's January Commedia residency will prove just as successful.
When asked about her upcoming Commedia class with TCS, Ms. Scott exclaimed:
"[The Clown School is] a wonderful resource David [Bridel] and friends have built to provide performers the opportunity to explore the physical forms in all their ferocity, delicacy and humanity. I am looking forward to contributing my voice to the beautiful cacophony! We're going to get up under some incredibly beautiful masks, plug into the lust for life that is the essential driver of all Commedia, and make a big noise together. It is an adventure for me to move to Los Angeles and bring the New York City approach with me -- We're off on a big adventure!"
The award winning Phil Burgers -- aka "Dr. Brown" -- is thrilled to be teaching his second class with TCS. His first appointment, this year's September Intensive, was a seven-week session open to students with all levels of clown experience. The class quickly sold out, and at the end of this wonderful, publicly experimental class, Mr. Bridel knew TCS students would benefit from more time exploring with "Dr. Brown."
Mr. Burgers spoke to TCS's marketing director about his 2014 recent residencies:
"The Clown School is a place where that spirit can be rediscovered, nurtured, and then re-introduced into the culture by having a whole bunch of idiots - the participants - go out into the world and entertain people with their stupidity, their generosity, their genuine vulnerability, their openness, their absurd and unique take on the world, and their ability to reveal a deeper humanity we all can identify with but have lost touch with in some ways. The Clown School is an essential place in Los Angeles. It is helping to revive the true spirit of clown in order to bring a freshness and a depth to the state of comedy in the entertainment industry. It's great to be a part of that! It's also just a great place to be an idiot!"
Mr. Burgers further elaborated on what the art of clowning explores and exhibits in today's society:
"For the most part, people in our culture are deeply misinformed about what clown is. They don't know that the true spirit of clown is completely accessible to their own comedic sensibilities and tastes. They don't realize that real clowning holds a mirror up to our shortcomings and helps us laugh at these shortcomings, in a way that can free us of unnecessary baggage we carry with us every day, everywhere. This true spirit of clown needs to be re-introduced into our culture and cleansed of all the misrepresentation and misunderstanding it has suffered from."
Between Mr. Burgers' sessions this fall and Ms. Scott's upcoming Commedia class in January, TCS students old and new are truly experiencing and absorbing a wide range of skills essential for anyone interested in pursuing a career in live performance. For those more interested in stand-up and improvisational comedy, then the TCS & Second City's Level 1 class is a perfect bridge between the improv and clowning worlds.
Mr. Steel's success with TCS and Second City Hollywood's first partnership class this fall has launched a second installment of the Level 1 class in February 2015! When asked about this joint venture for the two companies, Mr. Steel commented:
"It's been a pleasure to team up with one of the most renowned improv schools in North America [Second City Hollywood]. There is more than a little crossover between improv and clown and it is great to have a school in LA where students can explore both."
TCS feels privileged to have the opportunity to work with world-renowned, award winning artists like Mr. Burgers and Ms. Scott, in addition to training and working with extremely skilled local talent like Mr. Steel and Mr. Funt. Part of TCS's mission is to celebrate joy and laughter, and produce extraordinary live theatre events. Through the expressive, vulnerable and fearless art of clowning and Commedia, TCS is more than successfully carrying out this mission in Los Angeles.
To find out more about The Clown School and its upcoming Commedia and Second City Level 1 classes in 2015, visit www.theclownschool.com and connect with TCS on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Phil Burgers' September Intensive - Caitlin Conlin and Alexis Macnab on the bus
Second City partnership class with instructor Zach Steel (wearing orange, middle)