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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CIRCUS SMIRKUS...


Zoe Ruth Sisson Silverblatt
Female Clowns Flourish At Circus Smirkus

Monday, 08/09/10 by Jane Lindholm, Vermont Public Radio News

(Lindholm) Welcome back to Vermont Edition. I'm Jane Lindholm. The circus is known for being welcoming to all kinds of people. And in terms of gender equality, the circus was often far ahead of U.S. culture at large. Women performed alongside men, some of them even ran their own circuses way back in the 1800s.
But clowning remains a male-dominated field. Lots of male clowns dress as women. Barry Lubin became famous for his character "Grandma the Clown." But wipe off the white make up, take off the big nose and shoes, and most of the clowns making people laugh between acrobatic and animal acts are men.
That's not the case this summer at Circus Smirkus, Vermont's touring youth circus.
(Clown) "I take the bait and then I give it to her and then she gives it back..."
(Lindholm) Earlier this summer in Greensboro, the Circus Smirkus clowns practiced a gag where two characters are bested by a Sasquatch for their upcoming Big Top Tour.
(Lindholm) As the group crafted the scene for maximum laughs, a careful observer might have noticed that this clown troupe looks a little different than most. Nearly half of the performers are girls. At eighteen years old, Frances Tiffin is one of the senior clowns in "Clown Alley" this year, Circus Smirkus's group of clowns.
(Tiffin) "There are not very many girl clowns. And there is a kind of, not discrimination but...if you tell a circus person that you're a clown they'll go "oh, girl clown, cool." And I'm like, yes, there haven't been a lot of girl clowns but I don't see the relevance in why that's important to me being funny. I don't want to be the "girl clown" because funny is funny."
(Lindholm) Tiffin began her circus career three years ago, thinking she would be an aerialist. But a shoulder injury brought her back down to earth, and led her into clown alley. Tiffin says initially she didn't think she was funny, but now clowning around is her life.read more:http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/88613/

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