Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring is for Circus

Today's post includes photos from last year's Kelly Miller Circus, which we saw last year in Pleasanton. Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs( pictured above), two of the hardest working, talented and funniest clowns in the country, are back again as the featured clowns. Last year's show was wonderful. Pam and I highly recommend seeing it. It was in our part of Texas in April so be on the look out for it. Below is a link to their website.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Clown College Chronicles Part 10

It's time for the Final Exam show and a lot is riding on it for each and every one of us. In the audience amongst the friends and family of the performers will be the owner of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus , Kenneth Feld and his family, who would be deciding who gets a contract to work on the Greatest Show on Earth. We wanted it all to look great and go without a hitch as we would want of any show but the added pressure of competing for the limited spots open on both circus units made for some very active butterflies floating about our clown innards.

Above and below is the invitation for the show. An extra special moment that evening would be the presentation of a special award to the one and only Chuck Jones: creator of such classic Warner Brothers characters as Pepe Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Clown College director Steve Smith, a fan of the Warner Brothers cartoons, made sure we saw as many Warner Brothers cartoons as possible to aide developing the kind of clown movement he felt would be most effective in a three ring circus. Click on any of the images from this post for a magnified view.

My Ringling clown costume a.k.a. my agent suit.

Press photos in costume and in my walkaround costume, "Lil Nessie" (the only one I got approved), that was included in the final exam show.

Article of the Final Exam show.

The first gag of the show was my baby, "The Dawn of Comedy".

Keith Alexander as an old lady and myself as a self defense instructor in "Kung Phooey".

My seahorse, "Nessie", in action.

A Jay Stewart fish gutting-soap gag titled " Something Fishy", with Jan Lee Marshall and myself basically using a fish as a magic production box producing, among other things, fish guts, fish bones, an octopus, a kitchen sink and (naturally), King Neptune.

The best moment of the evening: receiving my diploma from Kenneth Feld. The crazy ride was almost over.

After show group picture. They should have included all the teachers and crew in the photo. I know, I know, it's our moment.

My diploma signed by Kenneth Feld, Tim Hoelst and Steve Smith.

A close up of our class photo on "The Two Hemispheres" circus wagon. I'm at the top of
the wagon by the Mexican flag.

(Above)Chad and I the morning after the Final Exam show on the grounds of the Circus World Museum. That morning all the students were gathered together around 9.m. to find out which of the thirty graduates would be awarded contracts to go on that road with the circus that winter.

There were a total of ten contracts awarded that year. Seven of us would be going to the Red Unit joining them on the "
Rodeo Route" while the remaining three would be joining the Blue Unit at Winter Quarters to rehearse their new show. Karen Rylander (Now Mrs. Desanto), Sasha Brietman and Tim Grandia went to the Blue Unit and joining the Red Unit were: Myself, Chad Miller, Lisa Chapman, Keith Alexander, Aaron Schettler, Benny Schultz and Edzui Szumoski. More than that deserved to be on the show and I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when they were deciding who the lucky ones would be.

Whatever the reasons, those of us that made it on the road that year realized it was a unique moment in our lives where we would be a part of the very special, almost mythical world of the circus. We also knew that we could also continue to grow as performers taking every opportunity to learn that was afforded to us.

Almost seventeen years later, most of my classmates continue their performance careers around the country and the globe. There have been reunions of all the classes over the years but Pammy and I haven't been able to go. The closest we came was our last time with the circus in 2001 when we were in Winter Quarters so we were a little busy. Once on the road though, we had a few smaller reunions as we crossed the country. There are a few classmates that I haven't seen or spoken to since 1993 but know if we ever crossed paths it would be as if only a day or two had passed since Clown College. And I know that if asked if would do it over again every last one would say, without hesitation, " Absolutely!"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mid-week Stuff

Doc Ed at Woodlawn Elementary practicing his table waiting skills for the first graders.

Doc counting down to the shows big finish or maybe waiting for someone to pull his finger.

The day started off with a three shows at Woodlawn Elementary for kindergarten, first and second graders. I've only been doing Doc Ed shows for the kindergarten- age kids since January though I've done the "entertainment for entertainment's sake" type show for them many times over the years.

In fact, my first experience performing in front of an audience was in fairytale plays for daycare groups. Those performances are some of the most memorable times on stage I've ever experienced. But doing an educational presentation about the aquifer and water conservation for an audience of four and five year old kids made me a little nervous.

What I've learned very quickly is that much of what works in a non-educational show also works for educational presentations. It should be high energy (at least in my case) for sure and the range of material covered has to be limited in scope and repetition of the material is helpful too. Plus I strongly believe that it has to have more than a dash of humor and audience participation to make it a solid educational/entertaining experience. Laughter bridges the chasm between the presenter and an audience of potentially fidgety little ones whose attention you must keep for at least thirty minutes. It all worked out fairly well for me today but I'll continue refining my presentation for a while.

The rest of my day was pretty easy. I sketched a bit at my new drawing table and love every minute of it. I'm still working out my next illustration for my portfolio but I think it's still going to be a scene from the Hobbit. After that I tackle Alice in Wonderland. I've already got a sketch started for that one. See ya'!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring is in the Air

I'm sure we've all noticed by now that everything appears a little greener in our world. I'm sure the early signs of spring began deep in the earth but I started to notice the trees had little buds around a week ago and this week the grass is finally growing and bulbs and dogwoods are almost in full bloom. Spring isn't officially here till the twentieth of this month but Mother Nature is calling the shots and she says its time.

One of the perks of working for the Edwards Aquifer Authority as their character Doc Ed is that I often get to enjoy days like these. Sometimes the Doc ed shows are held outdoors at a park or nature trail. Even when they're in a school I'll have plenty of time before and after the shows to chill and watch the clouds roll by. So Doc Edwards wants everyone to take a few few minutes out of their busy day to chill and watch the grass grow as often as possible.

Tomorrow morning Doc will be presenting his aquifer Adventure show for the kindergarten kids at Woodlawn Elementary for three performances starting at 9:30a.m., 9:45a.m. and 11a.m. followed by some down time at my favorite Mexican Cafe : Natalie's. We like to call it the Pink House and believe me it's quite pink. If your down on the west side of town on Cupples Road just a few blocks from highway 90 you should take the time to have a meal there.

Monday, February 28, 2011

From the Sketchbook- A Terminator and a Doctor

More of my crayola marker series once again proving that kids don't have to have all the fun. This time around I've drawn Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator from the film of the same name and Deforest Kelley as Dr. McCoy from "Wrath of Khan". Just for fun there's some links below to a Huffington post article on Arnold's return to the movies, an Arnold Wiki link as well as links to info on Deforest Kelley.Plus some video too!! We're all all about information overload here at Rancho Ramirez. Have fun!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slapstick Theatre - Bill Irwin: Man of many Hats

We at Rancho Ramirez love Bill Irwin. Beginning today and starting with Mr. Bill Irwin, every Sunday we'll present "Slapstick Theatre" for the love and appreciation of the fine art of comedy. Below is a wikipedia link with some info about Bill Irwin.

Hello Bill Irwin

June Moon Merriment

In 1998 Pammy and I auditioned for a musical at Theatre Three in Dallas. It was being directed by Jack Alder, co-founder, of the aforementioned company. Pammy had met him at Mountainview College, where she was a student in their Musical Theatre Conservatory. He was guest directing a production there. He and Pammy chatted quite a bit and he suggested that we both audition for the next Theatre Three production, which we did. That play was June Moon, a musical romantic comedy set in Tin Pan Alley. The cast was filled with talented comedic actors which was both fun and inspiring. It was great watching the other actors trying comic bits and fleshing them out in rehearsal and then refining them in front of the audience.

The parts we got weren't huge but Pammy and I always make the most of any role we play. Below are some reviews for the play where we got a good write up. Not bad considering. Outside of the circus it's some of the work we are proudest of doing. Soon there after we were in their production of Three Penny Opera, another fun run. Click on any of the images below for a magnified view of the reviews.

Sunday Morning Matinee- Charlie Chaplin's The Immigrant

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