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Four Clowns presents
Lunatics & Actors
by °David Bridel
directed by °Jeremy Aluma


April 29 - May 28, 2016
at The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
1238 W 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026

"Under Jeremy Aluma’s finely tuned direction, however, the play soon darkens and deepens" - LA Times
“Genius!” - Broadway World
“Remarkable… lively and heart-breaking” - Theatre Notes
“Brilliant… Terrifyingly real...” - Discover Hollywood
“One of the funniest shows I’ve seen.” - Observations Along The Road
“A brilliant fiction” - Examiner
"laugh out loud" - Edge Media Network
"truly impressive, physical performances" - On Stage & Screen


Enter the unsettling world of a 19th Century Parisian clinic where a strange experiment is about to unfold. YOU could become the next subject of the evening's scientific demonstration. Once the electro-shock therapy begins, there's no telling what will happen next...

Based on the real life obsessions of famed doctor, Duchenne du Boulogne, Lunatics & Actors takes its audience into the peculiar hinterland of emotional authenticity. The Four Clowns of this performance veer wildly from reason to insanity to Hamlet, and things are never far from becoming completely unhinged. Who is really mad after all – the lunatic or the actor?

Friday, April 29 at 8pm
Saturday, April 30 at 8pm - PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN
Friday, May 6 at 8pm - PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN
Saturday, May 7 at 8pm
Friday, May 13 at 8pm
Saturday, May 14 at 8pm
Thursday, May 19 at 8pm
Friday, May 20 at 8pm
Saturday, May 21 at 8pm
Thursday, May 26 at 8pm
Friday, May 27 at 8pm
Saturday, May 28 at 8pm
90 minute show

Thaddeus Shafer as DR. DUCHENNE
and his Lunatics
*°Tyler Bremer as BON-BON
Andrew Eldredge as PEPE
°Alexis Jones as FIFI

Stage Manager °Ashley Jo Navarro
Assistant Director Amaka Izuchi
Set Designer Fred Kinney
Lighting Designer Azra King-Abadi
Costume Designer Elena Flores
Sound Designer Kate Fechtig
Propsmaster Niki Mercs
Technical Director Matt MacCready
Producers °Jeremy Aluma and °David Anthony Anis
Associate Producers °Jennifer Carroll and °Julianna Stephanie Ojeda

° Four Clowns Company Member
* Member of AEA

Originally presented as a Workshop
May 2012 @ Lyric/Hyperion Theatre & Cafe
Lunatics & Actors by °David Bridel
Directed by °Jeremy Aluma and °David Bridel

°Jon Monastero as DR. DUCHENNE
and his lunatics
°Alexis Jones as FIFI
°Raymond Lee as PEPE
°Zach Steel as BONBON

Costume & Scenic/Props Designer Fred Kinney
Lighting Designer Sarah Steinman
Associate Scenic/Props Designer Amanda Stuart
Associate Costume & Make Up Designer Noël Walker
Choreographers Edgar Landa & Debbie McMahon
Stage Manager °Dave Honigman
Photographer Mustafa Sayed
Graphic Design Kiff Scholl
Hand Props Amy Ramirez
Design Consultant Staci Walters

PREVIEW: Lunatics & Actors

Blog CriticsApril 14, 2016 at Shakespeare Center LA

Four Clowns is a Los Angeles-based, internationally touring clown troupe whose definitions of clowning and physical theater are much different from what people most often assume. It’s not Ringling Brothers, to say the least. The company was formed on these tenets: humanity, entertainment, and redefining an audience’s relationship to the performers onstage.

Its first show, aptly titled Four Clowns, was developed by director Jeremy Aluma with the company and produced at the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival. Four Clowns won Best in Physical Theatre and Dance and was nominated for Best World Premiere, as well as the Bitter Lemons Award for Most Outrageous Theater at the festival that year. Since then, the troupe has presented distinctive clown versions of such works as Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and Pinocchio.

I had the opportunity to interview Aluma last year in anticipation of the company’s most recent Fringe show, The Halfwits’ Last Hurrah, and also got to experience first-hand what Four Clowns is all about. Now, as he prepares to depart the troupe (at least temporarily), Aluma spoke to me about the new show he’s directing that opens at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles on April 29.

Lunatics & Actors takes the troupe into darker territory than it’s been before. Inspired by the experiments of real-life 19th-century neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne, the show posits the question: “Who’s really mad after all – the lunatic or the actor?”

Aluma developed the idea for Lunatics & Actors with David Bridel, interim dean at USC, whose The Clown School inspired him to form Four Clowns. As a member of the troupe, Bridel has worked on a number of productions and approached Aluma with the idea for this new show, one that would fit the company’s aesthetic but definitely went in a different direction. It was workshopped in 2012, but this is its premiere staging.

Bridel was fascinated by Dr. Duchenne, whose controversial experiments advanced the science of electrophysiology. By applying electrodes to certain areas of a subject’s face, the doctor felt he could induce specific emotions.

“David had the premise from the beginning that [the character of] Duchenne would invite an actor from the audience and then compare and contrast his or her emotional authenticity with that of three lunatics he has brought with him from an 1860s French asylum,” said Aluma. “He uses an electrical conductive device to induce emotion from the lunatics and then compares them with the actor to see who has more authenticity.”

Lunatics & Actors is a definite departure from the productions Four Clowns has done before. “Often, when we are creating our own stories, or even when we’re adapting the text, we’re bringing our own theatrical and clowning language,” he added. “This time, we really embraced the tone of Duchenne and his experiments rather than our own outrageous aesthetic. We didn’t need to push the envelope because it had already been pushed.”

Naturally, this results in a more serious piece. The humor is still there, though – it’s just bleaker than usual. “We’re relying on the discomfort of the audience to provide the laughter,” he added.

Citing Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight as an example of an actor’s extreme dedication, Aluma wondered: “How far is too far? Is it still acting or has it become this psychosis they are living truthfully in an adopted mind – turning on something that is no longer them and is in fact dangerous?”

“The same thing goes for medicine. [Duchenne] is experimenting with electroshock therapy similar to the ways Nazis were experimenting in the 1940s. Sure, there were great advancements in the medical field, but at what cost?”
“Often, we as artists say it’s for the greater good, but if someone’s life or mental health is at risk, is it really for the greater good?” he finished. “I’m interested in that question, and where we draw the line in both arts and medicine.”

- Kurt Gardner