Described as a mime on steroids romp through the classic horror underworld, Vladimir the Crow is currently playing to wild reviews during the MICF. Performer, creator and teacher, Paul Bourke, brings this unique and scary show to life with some amazing performance art, mime and clowning.
“Initially the concept I loved was a ghoul clown from the horror underworld who is a bit of a scaredy cat and started playing with ideas around this theme and trying things with audiences to see what worked,” says Bourke talking about the genesis of the show. “To write a show like this in a clown style for me in the way I like to work the process looks a bit more like concept to stage to paper to stage to paper to stage…etc . I feel there are certain things that can only be discovered through playing with a live audience so time frame wise its really a few years work and numerous festival runs to craft Vladimir the Crow into the comedy monster of a show that it is today.”
Like most comedy (stand up or other) the audience reaction is key. Bourke acknowledges the risk involved when creating a show of this style and the attitude required to sustain its longevity.
“I guess the big challenge is that until you’re with an audience the show is really just an educated guess, so you need to be ok with failing a lot in front of audiences to find the gold and find what truly works, so it can be difficult to rehearse a work like this because it’s only truly alive with an audience. It’s a lot about remaining optimistic and playful.”
In fact, Bourke’s joy comes form connecting with the audience and encouraging them to connect with their inner childish imagination, and taking them on a horror inspired roller coaster ride of the senses.
Bourke admits to having a bit of a love hate relationship with horror. “I am a total scaredy cat, ” he says. I love all the old classics and particularly German expressionist films. I’m a big David Lynch fan and I love the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, but probably my favourite horror films are the Evil Dead films and Drag me to Hell because they have such good use of sound and jump scares.”
As a mime, Bourke has always been fascinated by Marcel Marceau and actually saw him perform a few times “… it was incredible the imaginal space he could generate around himself,” he says of Marceau.” Bourke studied with performance artist/maker Leisa Shelton who was a student of Etienne Decroux who was, fascinatingly, the teacher of Marcel Marceau”… and who interestingly hated the narrow box Marcel Marceau with his character Bip put mime in.”
Bourke admits, though, that a big turning point for him was meeting and training with the French master clown, Philippe Gaulier, and learning that your play and joy on the stage is way more important than any technical skill.
Vladimir the Crow is a ghoul clown, mime on steroids, horror fuelled, sonically sensational, visual and visceral piece of sublime physical clowning and plays until April 20 at the Melba Spiegeltent Studio Collingwood