Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah & Jonah (Blog #4 by Jamie Ann Hultgren)

Living in LA can be a real goat rodeo. 

Maintaining a (functional) life as a performing artist here means a constant juggle of day jobs and family responsibilities while carving out the time and space in your head/heart to expand instead of holing up in bed after an epic car battle on the 405. I suppose every career and geographic choice poses its challenges, but coming from the MidWest several years ago, I find myself having to work much harder to stay sane and grow.

I’ve been very fortunate to find an artistic home in the Four Clowns company and the associated Clown School (where many of us train). When I first moved to LA I tried a slew of different acting classes and found most of them to be a bunch of networky bull. So almost defiantly, I decided to delve into clown work and found a sanctuary where the work I was first drawn to as a performer (emotional, physical, spiritual, et all) was getting done. The work of the clown is being ever present, ever true- and if you avoid the work, you are slaughtered by the searing wit of an instructor or colleague. So in an effort to not get slaughtered, you prepare and scare yourself silly, making a complete fool of yourself while exposing your vulnerabilities on a regular basis. And at the end of the day, you're relieved because you’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly- you’re no longer carrying it with you.

But Four Clowns has the challenges of any young theater troupe- securing rehearsal space, funding, and selling enough tickets to keep the company alive are near constant concerns. So having the opportunity to be in residence at Annenberg for the summer is a really a dream for us, because the support of the City of Santa Monica and The Annenberg Foundation takes so much of the drudgery out of the equation, allowing us to focus more on the work itself- and not only that, but it is an awesome excuse to get out to the beach everyday.

So many company members keep saying what a relief being at the Beach House is. Exiting off the 10, heading through the tunnel onto the PCH, the ocean comes into view and suddenly my anxieties dissolve and brain expands, the frustrating jungle of LA ceasing to exist, only sun and water now. At last, I am free- to play and be a part of a community. Every care disappears and the creative work just sort of happens.

Both of our shows, Noah & Jonah, obviously have strong water themes, and performing against the facade of the Marion Davies Guest House, I don’t have to imagine all that hard to find myself in the shoes of the characters we play. I just look out on the ocean, already in awe of its beauty, power, and magnitude, swiftly delivered to a frame of mind where reflections on humanity and our place relative to all creation is uniquely available- thoughts that can feel so far from my little head when I’m squeezed into my Corolla on the 101.

Jamie Ann Hultgren
Performer, Noah & Jonah
Company Manager, Four Clowns

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