A&E » Arts

Clowning around stereotypes

Edith Tankus visits Whistler with the Hurricane Gerty show before heading to Broadway



What: Hurricane Gerty

When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

Where: MY Millenium Place

Tickets: $10-$21

Don’t expect big red shoes that squeak and plastic flowers that spurt water from Hurricane Gerty (aka Edith Tankus). Contrary to stereotype, the heart of clowning isn’t a rubber red nose.

“(My clown) is really theatrical with real audience interaction and I play with a nose or not,” Tankus said. “We are not merely a traditional white face, red nose and big shoes sort of things. There is more of a humanity to it. I am more interested in a uniqueness of character and sense of humour than I am into gags.”

However she goes about the stage, laughter is always the outcome, whether she is entertaining six year old or 60 year olds.

Tankus brings her all-ages show to Whistler on Saturday, Sept. 29 at MY Millennium Place.

“It’s about creating a space where laughter happens,” she said. “You have to tune into a frequency that allows your beautiful idiot to shine through.”

Tankus’s “beautiful idiot” is shining her all the way to Broadway next year. The young actress will head over to the United Kingdom after her B.C. shows to tour with Kneehigh Theatre and their stage adaptation of Rapunzel. The tour will continue on to Broadway, New York in March 2008.

“I can’t wait,” Tankus said of her starring role as Rapunzel in the production. “Broadway is pretty exciting.”

It’s been a long road to see her name in lights.

The award-winning actress and clown studied in Paris at L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq and L’Ecole Philippe Gaulier. She later became an artist in residence in theatres in Canada, co-founder and artistic director of Magpye Theatre and workshop leader in clown and physical theatre. She has also taught in numerous elementary and high schools and performed across the country.

She has collaborated with vaudevillian Tomas Kubinek, most recently in the Gemini-nominated feature film Tucked into Bedlam.

“We wrote the film adaptation of (Kubinek’s) stage show together,” she said. “We collaborated before: we performed together and he directed another show of mine.”

For her Whistler show, audiences can expect a combination of physical comedy, clowning, theatricality and vaudeville as Hurricane Gerty doles out ukulele arias, off-the-wall puppetry, charismatic crowd control and stupendous feats.

“It’s a great ride,” she said.

Hurricane Gerty is part of the Real Canadian in Whistler program that celebrates Canada through visual arts and cultural activities.

Tickets are $21 for adults, $19 for students and seniors, $17 for MY Place members, and $10 for children under the age of 12 years old.

Tickets are available at MY Place or by calling 604-935-8410 or visiting ticketmaster.ca.