Climate Theater clowns around

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Have you seen today’s headlines? The world has gone mad. Rather than frown, it’s time to laugh with the clowns who, starting today, are holding forth at Climate Theater’s second annual April Fools Festival.

Throughout the month, Climate will showcase five different and diverse aspects of clowndom. The festival is the brainchild of the theater’s artistic director Jessica Heidt, whose energy is as upbeat and lively as you’d expect from a clown lover.

“What is most exciting is the diversity of work and schools of thought that can fall under the name clowning,” Heidt says. “To see it all packed into a single month is really thrilling.”

The programming confirms Climate Theater’s reputation as a home for top-flight physical performers, who somehow manage to skillfully strut their stuff on the 49-seat theater’s intimate stage.

The festival begins today with Summer Shapiro’s “Legs and All,” which runs two weekends before it goes on the road.

Created and performed with Peter Musante, the show — which combines kinetic comedy and subtle pathos, set to a tango-meets-bluegrass score — was a big hit at the San Francisco Fringe Festival. Then it went to New York, where it kept selling out.

Next in the lineup comes the sure-to-sell-out April 5 installment of Climate’s monthly Clown Cabaret, which features
a surprise guest from Teatro ZinZanni, the antics of Pi, and much more.

On April 16 and 17, the Shadow Circus Vaudeville Theater brings its life-sized, outrageously belligerent puppetry to the stage. Combined with music and video, the evening includes guests Zoe Boekbinder (who is half of the band Vermillion Lies), Jill Parker (Ultra Gypsy tribal belly dance) and contortionist Avi Kahlsa.

“Monkey King: A Circus Adventure” runs April 22-25 and features advanced (second-year) students of Jeff Raz’s San Francisco Clown Conservatory. The family-friendly show, set to original music by Johannes Mager, uses commedia dell’arte masks, acrobatics, juggling and poetry to tell the 16th-century Chinese story “Journey to the West,” which revolves around the most beloved literary character in China: the Monkey King.

The festival chuckles away on April 30-May 2 with a show called “Flying Actors Studio presents …”

Flying Actors Studio is a new movement, mime and physical theater school led by 40-year veteran James Donlon; the show will feature its first graduate class performing “neo-classic mime.” Exactly what that is has yet to be revealed.

IF YOU GO
April Fools Festival 2010

Where: Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom Street), San Francisco
When: Today through May 2
Tickets: $10 to $20
Contact: (415) 263-0830, www.climatetheater.com

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