Making Art in 2017: Ryan Rebel on WILD, A Clown Western
Company: Shoe Box Company
Show in the 2017 Festival: WILD: A Clown Western
FringeArts: Tell us about your show.
Ryan Rebel: WILD is a devised clown show set in the dusty world of the Western. I can’t say exactly where that concept came from beyond the strong desire to work with clown. The juxtaposition of the earnestly goofy clown form with the steely seriousness of the Western planted itself in my mind and refused to leave. As we move forward with the project, one of our main concerns is injecting life, warmth, and thoughtfulness into a tired genre riddled with outdated social norms.
FringeArts: How have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year?
Ryan Rebel: I’ve spent my life being careful and planning ahead. I tend towards introversion and social anxiety; planning is a way of protecting myself against the unexpected. Delving into the world of WILD has been a deliberate way to force myself to be spontaneous. Clown work cannot be planned; it is utterly anchored to the present. To do clown is to be open and reactionary. This year has been an exercise in minimizing expectations so as to maximize sensitivity.
FringeArts: Tell us about an instance from 2017 when your interaction with art provided some much needed solace or refuge from outside troubles.
Ryan Rebel: In the fall of 2016 I was in the early stages of planning a project for the 2017 Shoe Box Short Theatre Festival. I wanted to curate and direct a stage adaptation of Franz Kafka’s first unfinished novel, Amerika. The story follows Karl Rossmann, a young German immigrant who comes to America hoping for opportunity but finds only absurdity and bizarre systemic inequality. Then the 2016 presidential election happened, and it felt to me like the nation entered a period of shell shock. In the wake of that election and all the setbacks for humanity that have followed, my work on Amerika with two close friends of mine felt more topical than we could have imagined. It was a way for us to process the mass cognitive dissonance of living in America in 2017.
WILD: A Clown Western
Shoe Box Company
$17 / 90 minutes
Sept 21-24 @ Venice Island Performing Arts Center, 7 Lock Street