Amy chats to Amee Smith and Dan Lees co-producers of London Clown Festival – which is on this week at Soho Theatre!
How did you go about creating this festival and what inspired it?
Dan: We (Myself and Henry Maynard) started the London Clown festival in 2016 to showcase exciting new contemporary clown shows. It’s a vibrant scene and it felt like an place to showcase that to a wide as audience as possible was needed. Since it began we have showcased artist such as Mawaan Rizwan, Natalie Palamides, and Viggo Venn before they became well known
What goes into producing a festival like this?
Amee: It’s a lot of work and lot of fun too. There is of course all the admin that goes with producing any performance, and a lot of the boring side is a million emails about budgets and logistics. But it’s all worth it when you see the faces of audiences enjoying shows they haven’t had the chance to see before, discovering something new, laughing together with a sense of play and openness. There are a wealth of styles and forms within clown and we love seeing a mix within the festival line up. All the shows in London Clown Festival are different to each other, you really won’t see the same thing twice.
Tell us about your love of clowning, how did it develop?
Dan: My love of clowning developed seeing shows at Edinburgh Fringe by artists like Spymonkey and Dr Brown.
Amee: Likewise, I saw shows that I enjoyed and worked with performers I wanted to see more of. Dan also teaches and directs as well as performing, so the Festival always has an eye out for new performers and shows as well as supporting things we know and love.
What can audiences expect from this year’s festival?
Dan: A collection of some of the best clown shows on the festival circuit. Artists such as Viggo Venn, Ella The Great, and many more!
Amee: Yes, there is something for everyone in the festival that has something completely different every night. All of them with something special that will make you laugh.
What show are you most looking forward to in this year’s lineup?
Dan: I’m looking forward to the opening cabaret which is always special and The Clong Show which is a clown gong show. 10 clowns competing to win The Clong 2023.
Amee: Yes, the Opening Cabaret is always fun with mix of performers from within the festival and some treats from outside the festival line up too. It’s hard to choose from the others as I’m really keen to see them all. There are discounts on booking multiple shows if you book them at the same time because we know that we’d want to book tickets to see as many as possible if we weren’t already working on the festival.
What would you say to encourage someone along to their first clowning show?
Dan: It will be a fun, unique experience and it is unlikely to be what you expect.
Amee: I agree, all the shows in the festival are fun and will make you laugh. Some will also make you think and feel in other ways, but never without laugher along the way. And you don’t have to have researched what clown is to enjoy them. Though if you do explore clowning more, you might even find that some comedy you already love is clowning, but you didn’t know it.
And finally, what’s the best thing about clowns / clowning?
Dan: They bring laughter and play to a world that needs it more than ever.
Amee: I can’t put that any better.
LONDON CLOWN FESTIVAL IS RUNNING FROM 12TH JUNE – 17TH JUNE
London Clown Festival 2023 Full Line Up
Monday 12th June – 7pm – London Clown Festival 2023 Opening Cabaret (120 mins including interval)
Thursday 15th June – 7pm – Ella The Great
Thursday 15th June – 8:45pm – Lucy Hopkins: Secrt Circl
Thursday 15th June – 10:15pm – Cabaret Impedimenta
Friday 16th June – 7pm – Viggo Venn: British Comedian
Friday 16th June – 8:45pm – CLONG
Saturday 17th June – 7pm – Healing King Herod
Saturday 17th June – Akimbo Theatre: No One
Price: £13-£15 (plus booking fees)