Wait for it…
Jeremy Aluma serves as Four Clowns’ razor-sharp founder/artistic director and he seems to be everywhere at once at this year’s Fringe—taking in shows and making the rounds at Fringe Central Station. His potent energy matches his ideas and after two successful years at the Hollywood Fringe, he’s back with his team for a third with the family-friendly premiere of That Beautiful Laugh playing at Fringe Central’s Open Fist.
“I trained in physical clowning,” Aluma describes his background. “But I’m not an actor. I behave like one but I’m not.”
Aluma is no stranger to creating magic on an LA stage. He directed a 2010 production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariat (Urban Theatre Movement at Company of Angels), earning plenty of critical praise for successfully helming its 23-person cast in the 99-seat venue.
The inaugural Four Clowns production (actually called Four Clowns) was conceived and directed by Aluma in 2010. The original adults-only show was developed from Aluma’s concept of four archetypal clown characters (sad, angry, nervous and mischievous) each experiencing the primary phases of their life (childhood, adolescence and adulthood) which would reveal how they came to be who they are.
Aluma’s clever concept seemed an artistic crap shoot in the beginning but quickly grew into a hit that has now toured around the country for over two years, collecting more accolades along the way and still selling out on stops in Los Angeles.
“Our audiences grew exponentially each time,” Aluma says of the original show. “We had no idea it would work when we started but we did end up being very popular. Which is always nice.”
The new family show seems poised for similar success, ranking consistently near the top of the 2012 Bitter Lemons Fringe Meter tallied from direct audience feedback online.
That Beautiful Laugh tells a story described to expose “the joys of laughter” using seven clown performers in a story conceived by Orlando Pabotoy and directed by Turner Munch. Aluma kept a watchful eye throughout the Beautiful Laugh process.
“The interaction with the audience is essential and, I think, the most interesting component of clown,” Aluma says. “I think it’s the one thing I’m trying to discover the most with each show and how we play with that.”
Four Clowns has plenty of work on the local horizon with an upcoming gig at South Coast Rep where they will be creating a main stage children’s show, directed by Aluma, as well as smaller performances on deck. Always check show details carefully, because this clown troupe serves up equal parts risky adult humor and family fare, depending on the show. But when it comes to skills, Aluma looks for the same things in a Four Clowns audition room no matter what the clown content.
“They are all actors first. It’s hard to find people who just do clowning,” Aluma says. “But you have to have some [clown] training; you have to know what it means to fail and work through the muck of failing.”
Whatever his theatrical task, Aluma has plenty to smile about and does.
Just two shows left for That Beautiful Laugh…
Running Time: 1 hour Tickets: $10 – $12
About the Author: Amy Tofte is a writer/director who worked way too hard for her SAG card that she stubbornly hangs on to. She has her MFA from CalArts (Writing for Performance) and has seen her work produced all over the country and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is a founding member of Fierce Backbone in Los Angeles (a theater dedicated to all levels of play development) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Visit Amy at http://amytofte.com