Toronto Festival Of Clowns: Q&A With Christine Lesiak

Performer Christine Lesiak talks about her latest clown show Fools for Love at the Toronto Festival of Clowns

Adam Keefe and Christine Lesiak as Rocket and Sheshells in Fools For Love.

Fools for Love is a romantic comedy in red-nose starring Edmonton-based performers Christine Lesiak and Adam Keefe, and directed by Jan Henderson.  Presented by Small Matters Productions, the hour-long show, featuring the charming clown duo Rocket (Keefe) and Sheshells (Lesiak), premieres tonight at the Scotiabank Theatre at Pia Bouman School as part of this year’s Toronto Festival of Clowns.

Now in its seventh year, the international festival highlights some of the world’s top clowns, bouffons and physical theatre artists of all disciplines and backgrounds and provides them with a common space to showcase their work. Each night the festival ends with a Cabaret, including the Lunacy Cabaret (Toronto’s longest running clown variety show) and the Red Nose District Cabaret (hosted by the hilarious Morro and Jasp).

Here, Lesiak talks about her latest clowning adventure and proves that she’s more than just a funny face.

Theatromania: Tell us about Rocket and Sheshells. How long have you been clowning around together?

CL: Rocket and Sheshells are a red-nose clown romantic couple. There’s often a good amount of sexual innuendo in the material they create. Rocket is the goofier of the two, and frequently does things that annoy Sheshells. But at the end of the day, they love and need each other in their lives. Rocket and Sheshells have been working together since 2007. This is their third hour-long show.

Theatromania: What can people expect from your new show Fools for Love?

Fools for Love is an action-romantic-comedy, and really the clown duo’s origin story. It weaves a funny and touching story of love, risk and acceptance.  Fools for Love was co-written and directed by Jan Henderson, who has been teaching and directing clown  and mask for over 30 years.

Audiences will see a performance style that is very physical with little text, and a set/prop-minimal aesthetic. We are driven to create strong narrative that is completely fuelled by the clowns’ relationship, and peppered with pop-culture references that just make us laugh.

Theatromania: Small Matters Productions is dedicated to creating clown theatre for contemporary adult audiences. Why should grown-ups embrace clowning?

CL: Adults should embrace clowning because it reflects their own lives back at them, but in a fun-house mirror. Clowns are able to tackle difficult subjects through the lens of comedy—candy-coating a bitter pill. When we as audience members are able to recognize and laugh at our foibles, it helps us move through our own pain. A good clown show is super-fun and highly cost-effective therapy!

Theatromania: How would you describe the Canadian Pochinko style of clown? How does it differ from other techniques?

CL: I can only speak about my perception, because I’m sure hundreds of people would give you a thousand different answers. For me, Pochinko is a clown through mask method of finding your personal clown, a method accessible to anyone. It seeks to delve deep into aspects of self to empower absolute self-acceptance, warts and all.  It’s where our company members started on our clown journeys. But as I work with instructors who’ve been primarily trained in other schools (Gaulier, LeCoq), I’ve learned that they’re really just different starting places. As the journey progresses we are all converging to the same end-point—one of creating and performing playfully from an authentic place.

Theatromania: What excites you most about the Toronto Festival of Clowns?

CL: What DOESN’T excite me! I was able to attend the festival last year and perform in the cabarets, so I know the diverse clown performance styles the festival offers. The calibre of performers featured at this year’s festival is very impressive. To be invited to perform alongside them is an honour.

Check out Fools for Love tonight at 8pm or June 2 at 6:15pm at the Toronto Festival of Clowns. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

You can also catch Rocket and Sheshells at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival (July 18 to 29) and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (August 16 to 27).


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