The University of Alberta’s BFA Acting class of 2015 will be on the Studio Theatre stage starting with Moira Buffini’s Loveplay at the end of October. But you can see them tonight (Saturday) in an evening of original clown turns called Frenetic Dreamtime.
I went to the preview Thursday night at the Timms Centre’s Second Playing Space. Each of the ten class members had a character who did a turn, mostly solos but sometimes helping each other out. The show was hosted by a character played by Maxwell Lebeuf. As the audience enters, this character is seated at a dressing table facing away from the audience, doing makeup and getting in to nose and costume. It was a bit unsettling to find it hard to distinguish the pre-show time where it was appropriate for us to chat with each other, send text messages, and knit (okay, I was probably the only one who wanted to knit) and the time when the show had started so respect would require us to observe silently.
Max’s character introduced each act by title and character name. The custom of short clown turns each having a title, often involving wordplay, suddenly reminded me of classic animated cartoon style. Because I don’t know all the members of the Class of 2015 by sight and because their CVs aren’t on the Drama department website yet, I can’t be certain which performers did what. If you are reading this and you want to let me know, please feel free to email or post a comment on the entry. But I think my favourites were the nesting hen laying eggs, the apprehensive mountain climber (Dylan Parsons), and the would-be bride of “White Wedding”. All of these stories had an entertaining mix of some familiar emotions and some inventive physical expression of the narrative. The ensemble worked together smoothly to set up quickly for each act, and I was particularly impressed by this because a few of the acts involved making a mess on the floor.
The show ended with Maxwell Lebeuf’s character singing a cabaret-style version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, and the nine other clowns doing a choreographed dance as backup. That was a lot of fun too.
Frenetic Dreamtime has one more show tonight at 7:30 pm at the Timms Centre Second Playing Space. Seating is limited (although they might bring out more chairs if there’s a bigger crowd). Admission is free, and there’s an opportunity to donate to either or both of the Drama Department bursary fund and the class of 2015 audition tour.