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Events yurodivy


Nick Gillette Improv

September 16-September 25

2021 Fringe Festival

1 hour

Pay What You Can

The MAAS Building StudioMap

YU·RO·DI·VY – Russian nominative plural noun – юро́дивые
1. holy fools

An improvised night of comedy and music from four holy fools. An uproarious celebration of the wisdom and lunacy of these modern village idiots. Performed by improv guru Nick Gillette, clown poet performance art maven Alexandra Tatarsky, and physical theater artist absurdist Aram Alan Aghazarian. Live music by my friend Fred Brown.




This show aims to make us laugh until we cry. This clown trio will ask, quite pointedly but not without care, what is the show you want to see before you die? We will then improvise, as serviceably as we can, your impossible requests.

This show wants to apply the analgesic of laughter to our tenderest existential sores. To give a rest from our anxiety, a reprieve from routine, and a celebration to euthanize the night, this one night, which we hold for a brief hour and then mayn’t ever return to again.

Yurdodivy, holy fools, were once an Eastern Orthodox ascetic tradition. Eschewing traditional social conventions in favor of purposeful divine weirdness, these proto clowns would provoke their communities to more closely inspect their habits and presumptions. The holy fool and the clown may benignly violate these rules, in order to illuminate their flaws and idiosyncrasies. We laugh at what we recognize, and the holy fool or clown mirrors back to us only ourselves.

I find the fear of clowns unsurprising because we’re unpredictable. The presence of a clown removes the surety of all of our automatic social habits; the old tried and true rules just can’t apply here. We all have mental or social shortcuts to quickly get to the comfort of knowing the answer to “what the hell is going on here.” The clown, just by existing with the charged potential of unpredictable presence, awkwardly blocks these shortcuts. An



Thursday, Sep 16, 2021 – 9:00pm
Friday, Sep 17, 2021 – 10:00pm
Thursday, Sep 23, 2021 – 8:00pm
Friday, Sep 24, 2021 – 8:00pm
Saturday, Sep 25, 2021 – 8:00pm

Health & Safety

Proof of vaccination is required to attend this and all Cannonball Festival events. For the safety of audiences, artists, staff, and our greater community, you must be fully vaccinated to attend this event. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after your second dose. You will be asked to show proof of vaccination before entering the venue. Accepted forms for proof of vaccination include: a physical vaccine card with your name on it or a digital photo of your vaccine card on a cell phone. Please plan accordingly.

Masks must also be worn for the duration of the performance.



Lead Artist/Performer: Nick Gillette

Performer: Aram Alan Aghazarian

Performer: Alexandra Tatarsky

Music: Fred Brown

Producer: Almanac Dance Circus Theatre

This show is presented as part of Cannonball Festival, an independent satellite festival produced by Almanac Dance Circus Theatre and the Maas Building featuring over 150 events including performances of 27 original shows, nightly cabarets, and more. Learn more at


Content Considerations

Appropriate for Ages 13+


About the Artists

NICK GILLETTE is a physical theatre artist, co-founder emeritus of Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, and an instructor and performer at the Philly Improv Theater. He is a graduate of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, 2014 New York Live Arts Fresh Tracks resident artist, and 2016 Colgate University Christian A. Johnson resident artist. With Almanac, he has devised and performed dozens of critically acclaimed nu-circus works. He is the co-creator of improvised absurdist plays such as The Wadsworth Constant. He has performed with Cabaret Red Light, BRAT Productions, Lighting Rod Special, Pig Iron Theatre Co., Alex Bechtel, International Contemporary Dance Festival of Mexico City, and Vancouver International Improv Festival’s International Ensemble.

ALEXANDRA TATARSKY Writer and performer Alexandra Tatarsky (she/they) makes performances at the in-between zone of performance art, comedy, dance-theater, and deluded rant—sometimes with songs. She has performed at venues such as MoMA PS1 and The New Museum, and she has published several chapbooks, including Vacant Love and Embrace the Tree. She teaches workshops on masks, bouffon, and holy fools in theory and practice. Their work often explores the ways in which words and worlds come together and fall apart and utilizes the logic of the clown as an antidote to despair and a model of one who keeps trying despite (repeated) failure.

ARAM ALAN AGHAZARIAN is a performer, theater creator, and teacher. He is a founding member of Strange Attractor Theatre Company. His theater work includes Pig Iron Theater Company, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, Swim Pony Performing Arts, Lightning Rod Special, Perseverance Theatre, Alaska Perseverance Theatre, Alaska. Aram teaches in the Pig Iron MFA/Certificate program and at Community College of Philadelphia where he teaches Movement and Dance for Actors, and Rehearsal and Performance. He is a graduate of Temple University and the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA).

FRED BROWN graduated Pig Iron School/University of the Arts in Philadelphia with an MFA in Devised Performance. Latin and Greek teacher with an undergraduate degree in Classical Philology from Harvard University. He has performed, directed, and coached improv comedy for the last seven years at improv festivals in the US and Canada. For six year has performed weekly improv comedy shows in Philadelphia, with the teams The Future and Dream Tank. He has accompanied improv groups with live, musical accompaniment, and composed songs for podcasts, theatrical productions, independent films, and short comedic web sketches.

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