Clowns conjure up images of white face paint, a red button nose and oversize floppy shoes, jokers who resort to slapstick to make an audience laugh.
Prepare for a different vision as Brazil’s Circo Teatro Udi Grudi is on its debut Canadian tour stopping at the International Children’s Festival from May 26 to 30 with its most successful show to date, O Cano.
Gone is the traditional whiteface. Instead the clown trio looks like goofy, exaggerated cartoon characters that couldn’t do anything right if they tried. And try they do.
“We work with the logic of a clown. If a clown can complicate things, why should he make it easier?” chuckles Luciano Porto, co-founder of Udi Grudi. Márcio Vieira and Marcelo Beré complete the triad.
In O Cano the clowns use the two universal languages of humour and music to reveal that things are not what they appear. With British director Leo Sykes they create a surreal world where everything is in constant transformation.
There is no linear story line and few words are spoken. Communication comes through humour, singing dancing, juggling, nonsensical clowning, and at one point, balancing lit torches. “The show is based on feelings, on sensations. We work on sensory sound and experience.”
Vieira, an electrical engineering graduate from the University of Brasilia and musician in his own right, used his knowledge and expertise to fashion all the instruments from alternative materials — drain pipes, kitchen tiles, straws and plastic bottles. There is even a blue plastic barrel that plays the samba. “Everything is in metamorphosis. A prop starts out as one thing and changes into something else.”
Although the award-winning company has a 26-year-old pedigree, it only started travelling internationally in 2000 when it appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Competing against 1,500 other companies, it won the Harold Angel Award for best pick of the week.
That experience opened the doors to touring across Europe, South America, Hong Kong, Cuba and various other points across the globe.
Critics have lauded O Cano as “magical” and “mystical.” Porto adds, “You will laugh a lot. Some people even cry with the poetry and magic. If you want to be touched, come and see our show.”
Circo Teatro Udi Grudi
International Children's Festival
Downtown St. Albert
Tickets: Adults $10, children $8.50