One-woman show brings clown to life

Expect mustard, a suitcase full of singing animals, and trouble

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Emily Windover's one-woman show "HelloHiThanks" opens Friday and it's guaranteed to have some serious problems.

Windover won't suffer but Murphy certainly will struggle. Murphy is Windover's clown character, a persona she created several years ago while studying physical theater.

"She's a performer, she's very earnest," Windover said. "The premise of the show is that she's going to perform, but everything keeps going wrong or getting interrupted."

"HelloHiThanks" will run six times over two weekends at the Goldtown Nickelodeon Theater. It opens at 7 p.m. Friday and shows at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and on Dec. 7 and 8. It includes a noodle, mustard and a suitcase full of singing animals. Windover said the show is appropriate for adults and kids.

"Clowning really transcends age and culture and language," she said. "It's very basic. It's my inner idiot and everyone has that and can identify with that."

Windover served as the clown commander in the Perseverance Theatre production of "Fry Tales" last season and taught physical theater in the Perseverance STAR program this past summer. Windover, 24, grew up in Western Massachusetts and began acting in high school.

"I did a lot of Shakespeare in high school - there's a lot of clowns in Shakespeare," she said.

She toured in Germany and Scotland with The Bigger Light Theater Co. and then studied clowning, comedy and melodrama in a year-long program at the Dell' Art International School of Physical Theatre in California. She performed "HelloHiThanks" in a series of shows in Scandinavia and in the United States in the summer of 1999 before coming to Juneau a year ago.

Clowning is part slapstick, part improvisation, and in Murphy's case, part singing, but Windover said it's not really what the clown is doing that is funny.

"I think with clowns you're laughing at the dearness of the character and the sincerity of the character, rather than what they're doing," she said.

The toughest part of preparing "HelloHiThanks" has been rehearsing without an audience.

"The interaction with the audience is an essential ingredient of the show," Windover said. Several parts involve bringing an audience member on stage and she said she has to prepare for a variety of reactions.

"What if a kid just leaves or what if they get really embarrassed and uncomfortable and don't want to be up there? How do I make it still fun for everyone? Those are the best moments," she said.

"That's when the character totally takes over. It's not me, Emily, planning, but the character trying to save her own butt. It's not me thinking but the clown directly translating to action," she said.

"HelloHiThanks" will last about an hour. Tickets will be at the door, and admission is on a sliding scale of $5 to $15.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.



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