by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

O% is definitely not what they were (or rather the performance they gave) but it is however the self-described characterization of the new ClownMa dell’Arte group in their Los Angeles debut performance at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe in Silver Lake, CA where “No Fat Cat!” is the clown solution to the Occupy Movement and indeed a hilarious touchtone for the antics of “people who are too big to fall.”

Commedia dell’Arte otherwise known as the “comedy of the craft of improvisation” or comedy of the artisans (as opposed to art as it is often incorrectly referred) even at the beginning of its history in 16th century Italy was believed to be a response to the political and economic crisis of the time.  The performers worked mostly without extensive stages and relied on various props instead of scenery playing out the characterizations of fixed social types, archetypes.  Dubbed as the ultimate street performers, even then, it is not certain when they donned masks.  But in the modern aesthetic is the ultimate exaggeration and distortion of anti-humanism.

Where other types of theatre narrate a story.  Mask will get you closer to the truth.

“Clowning around” for the ClownMa troupe is not simply funny.  It can be of course.  What I found and realized, however, during this performance is that mask is much more poignant, precise, even threatening because it attempts to show us ourselves in often the ugliest of ways.  Not by simply holding up a mirror, but by pulling us inside out and openly revealing our “secret” faces, the ones we want or think we can hide.  The masks themselves are the pronounced verity of the situation, even our souls.  The skin that lies beneath is inconsequential because it is exactly the same.

There is also the classic, traditional plot of innamorati (lovers) accompanied by vagabonds and madrigalists in part played out here which during last week’s opening, was a delight mixed with a refreshing naivety of a company of performers in their infancy.  Satisfying the appetite for comedy, brutal tragedy and unadulterated triumph, ClownMa dell Arte brings the ideas of Occupy forward, what it means to be a part of the 99% and why ultimately 0% coins the meaning of “free.”

This story will only get larger and better in the weeks ahead and the troupe so far is destined for a bright future with clowns, Austin McCoy(Pringles), Kristal Pires-Patch(Winnie), Eric Kuntz (Flex), Alex Makardish (Sky), Kyle Johnston (Dusty), Tyler McGraw(Zero), Emily Brennick (Sassifrass), Nicholas Law (Wade), and Jeremy Charles Hohn, (Q).

0% – Occupy WHAT Street? is filled to the brim with just as many possibilities and solutions, as it is slapstick, gags and satire; jealousy and rage as it is forgiving and funny.  Skillfully done by a cast  with great instincts.