Pepper South of the Border

If you’re like me, you received dribs and drabs of tantalizing rumor a few weeks ago that Brooklyn’s Alpha Clown Audrey Crabtree was down doing something or other clown-related in a country called “Mexico”. From afar the whole adventure sounded exciting, and I had to know more. Here, then, the definitive skinny on Pepper, South of the Border:

How did the trip to Mexico come about?

Gaby [Gabriela Muñoz]came to the 2010 NY Clown Theatre Festival this past fall and we connected on our thoughts about ‘social clowning’ and work with communities in need.  We started talking about the need for a clown festival in Mexico and about working together.   It was a big risk to agree to work on big life changing projects without knowing each other or actually working together.  It really paid off and we have great onstage chemistry and we work well together in a buisness mode as well.

Where did you perform?

We made a 35 minute clown show for kids, very classic type material and we performed at Ministerios de Amor. We began working on our full length clown show that we will open in September and we will tour in next year.  We showed 8 minutes of that act at a circus cabaret.  It is a non-verbal piece.

How long were you there?

24 days.

What did you do?

I taught two workshops: “Developing Work Through Improvisation” and “Clown Duos and Trios”. We hashed, flushed out what we wanted for the first Mexican Clown Theater Festival (starting in 2012).  Although it will not be a part of the NY festival we will collaborate in certain ways.  It is important for the Mexican festival to have its own identity and not be a copy cat.   Gaby will be the festival director there.  I will be part of the curation and administrative organization.  Hopefully we can learn from the success and ‘challenges’ of the NY festival.  We will have it either directly before or after.   I have had an imagination about a modern Vaudeville circuit for clown or physical theater for some time-maybe this is a start.

Did you know folks down there?

No. Just Gaby.  The international clown community may be small but they are well connected so I have several people put me in contact with friends who treated me like an old friend.

Did you make new friends?

I was met so many artists of all kinds as well as many many clown and physical theater related artists; directors, clowns,writers, teachers, performers and musicians.

What did you learn?

For me I learned something about the heart and the passion of the Mexican artists and performers.   I think there is a real emphasis on the creativity, and purpose of art and performance.  I think in NY at least we get caught up talking about the business of the work, and start to equate success with fame and prestige and not quality or intention.

Plans to go back?

I will be back in January to make announcements about the dates and open the applications for the 2012 Clown Festival in Mexico.

For more info on Audrey and Gaby’s collaboration, including lots of pix, go here.

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