Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Behind the Bouffant

The modern clown is an ever growing influence on the Chicago theatre scene. Its influences affect actors, directors, and the final artistic product. And why shouldn’t it? The clown loves the audience and has an insatiable appetite for play that is infectious with spectators of all ages. The clowning tradition that Les Enfants Terribles follows takes a different approach. The buffoon disgusts the audience and its world of play emerges from an insatiable appetite to mock.

The buffoon is best recognized by his lumps and deformities that make him a parodied version of a human being. He is ostracized for his appearance and is fed with bitterness and relentlessness. These deformities may not to be admired, but they are the buffoon’s license to tell the truth - or at least his version of the truth. An ensemble of bouffant believe that they live in an ideal society. Their inner workings and relationships are to be highly respected. Coming from their model world, buffoons have observed our behaviors, they have seen our way of life, and they are noticing some glaring flaws. They recognize the absurdity of our belief in love, social norms, and a number of other pressing subjects that we refuse to diagnose objectively.

The buffoon acts as an agent of change by very simply presenting our world to us. Our behaviors are performed with comic antics that might be considered below skill, or wit, or competence of any kind. The jokes are those of a low jester, but the buffoon is to be admired for his cleverness and innate intelligence. Audiences slowly begin to approve of the buffoon and eventually learn to respect him and even begin to accept his appalling actions and appearance.

The bouffant tradition is centuries old and yet still resonates with audiences today. Its past is storied, its future is bright, and that is why we have chosen to be active members in paving the bouffant’s future. Won’t you join us?

Alex Kyger
Les Enfants Terribles
Believe in Nothing, Mock Everything
July 14-August 14 at Red Tape Theatre

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