[Phoenix-eNews] PHOENIX THEATRE: BackstagePASS > Final week of Alumni Festival- Cirque du Soleil Clown Shannan Calcutt

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Mon Oct 24 15:41:53 PDT 2016

@UVic Newsletter

Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
	October 2016  • Act 10 Scene 5

      eNews: Final week of Alumni Fest: Bring on the Clowns!

We're into our final week of the Alumni Festival! We're so honoured that 
alumna Shannan Calcutt has returned to the Phoenix from her home in Las 
Vegas where she has performed in Cirque du Soleil's show /Zumanity/ for 
the past 10 years. She is also the show's Co-Comedic Director and the 
Clown Coach for Cirque du Soliel's resident shows. She has been called 
/"a Jedi master of improvisation"/ and her shows /"...a spell-binding, 
comic/poignant tour-de-force performance." /Read more below./

      Behind the Scenes: *
      *Clowning Around:
       From the Phoenix to Cirque du Soleil and back

By John Threlfall,
from UVic's Torch Magazine 

/"There is nothing so funny, sad, and purely entertaining as a highly 
skilled clown, and Shannan Calcutt is that, to be sure."/ - The Georgia 

For most people, Las Vegas is a place of escape and relaxation. But for 
Shannan Calcutt, what happens in Vegas keeps her in Vegas.

*Calcutt, (BFA ’97)*, has spent the past decade starring in Cirque du 
Soleil’s /Zumanity /at the New York New York Hotel and Casino. Part 
burlesque and part cabaret, /Zumanity /is billed as an “erotic thrill 
ride” and has become one of the must-see sensations in a city built on 
sensory overload. Yet Calcutt plays down the show’s sensational side and 
instead sees it as that rarest of theatrical gems: a steady job.

/“It’s a great, great gig,/” she says. /“We do two shows a day, five 
days a week, 477 shows a year. That’s a lot of audience 

And while it’s Calcutt who got the job, it’s her famed alter-ego clown 
Izzy who has entertained over half-a-million Cirque spectators in 
/Zumanity/, and who will be appearing at the Phoenix in October as part 
of the 50th anniversary celebrations. /“My partner and I are the 
comedians in the show, and we change what we do every night based on 
what the audience says and does. That keeps it fresh.”/

While Calcutt had mask and movement training at UVic, she didn’t 
formally study clowning until after graduation, when she attended 
California’s acclaimed Dell'Arte International School of Physical 
Theatre on the advice of then-Theatre professor*John Krich*. It was 
there Calcutt met master teacher Sue Morrison (shown right), which 
resulted in her studying with noted Calgary physical theatre company The 
Green Fools; and it was there, during a Morrison-led workshop in Clown & 
Bouffon, that Izzy first emerged with what became her signature line.

/“We were doing duos at a cabaret in front of an audience and I asked my 
clown partner,/ /‘Do you think I’m pretty?’ That’s really where Izzy was 

It didn’t take long for Calcutt to make a name for herself with the 
/Izzy /trilogy—/*Burnt Tongue*/, /*It's Me, Only Better!*/ and /*Out of 
My Skin*/—winning multiple awards and playing to sold-out audiences 
across North America and as far afield as the Sidney Opera House.

She was scouted by Cirque du Soleil as early as 2000 (/“I was put 
forward for Varekai and Corteo”/), but it wasn’t until 2005 she joined 
/Zumanity/. Not that she’s been resting on Izzy’s laurels since then. 
/“I just finished a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Dramatic Media 
with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas,”/ she says. /“I spent a lot of 
time in the dressing room writing papers.”/

//In addition to John Krich, Calcutt also notes Theatre professors 
*Linda Hardy 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/faculty/bios/linda_hardy.html>* and 
now-retired*Julianna Saxton* as key influences, but names the late 
legendary professor*Kaz Piesowocki* as being singularly important.

/“As the movement coach, Kaz was a huge influence on me... he made such 
an impact on us all — the way he taught impulse, physicality, the breath 
— it was all so simple, but resonates in everything I’ve done since.”/

This kind of dynamic learning is what makes UVic’s Theatre department 
different from other Canadian universities, notes department chair *Dr. 
Allana Lindgren. 
/“In addition to our ‘hands on’ approach to education, we offer a 
comprehensive program that equally values practical and more 
traditionally academic courses,”/ she says. /“These factors mean that 
our students leave our undergraduate and graduate programs with numerous 
options ... it also doesn’t hurt that we also have one of the best 
educational theatre facilities in the country.”/

While it’s been nearly 20 years since she graduated, the 40-year-old 
Calcutt is philosophical about aging alongside her character. /“As you 
get older, so does your clown, so Izzy has really grown up here in 
Vegas,”/ she explains. /“In *Burnt Tongue,* Izzy is very innocent—it’s 
her first show, she’s all about finding a guy—but now she’s one of the 
sex experts in Zumanity. (An older, 'more experienced" Izzy shown 
right!) Izzy has a husband in the show—played by my clown partner, Nicky 
Dewhurst—but my 'real life' husband Darren Pitura is our back-up, so I 
do work with him on occasion too. Darren and I have had two kids, so my 
body isn’t 25 anymore ... that’s the beauty of being a clown—instead of 
having the shame of not looking like you used to, you shamelessly 
celebrate it instead.”/

As well as her work with Cirque du Soleil, Shannan has also been 
teaching the art of clowning, including a recent workshop called 
"Celebrate Your Ridiculousness" at the Vegas Theatre Hub (photo below). 
/"The more I teach, the more I realize how important this work is. Not 
just for artists, but for all of us. The art form of Clown is simply 
extraordinary. Clowns show us their flaws, so that we can forget our 
own. Clowns celebrate their shortcomings, so we can laugh at ours. 
Clowns show us their humility and vulnerability and wear their hearts on 
their sleeves. They remind us that we're all simply human and shouldn't 
take ourselves so bloody seriously," /Shannan said of her experience. 
/"Let's face it, we need clowns now more then ever!"/

Best advice she was ever given as a theatre artist? “/Make your own 
show; don't wait to be cast*.* Look at the alumni coming back — Charles 
Ross or TJ Dawe or myself — we’ve all created our own vehicles to 
perform. //Don’t wait for someone to decide that you’re good enough, or 
smart enough, or talented enough.//Talent is great, but you’ll never 
have more than you do today; you can work on skills and training, but 
it’s motivation and drive that will get you where you want to go.”/

Interesting Links:*

  * *50th Anniversary website*
    The history of the Department of Theatre and Phoenix Theatre,
    including plays, faculty members and successful alumni. Alumni can
    be added by sending in their own biographies
    <https://finearts.uvic.ca/forms/phoenixalumnisurvey/biography/> to
    be posted.
  * *Anniversary Events and Exhibitions:
    Learn more about exhbitions**and other activities during the year.
  * *Alumni Reunion <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/reunion/>*:
    All UVic Theatre alumni are invited to join us November 11-13, 2016
    for a weekend to reconnect. Register online. Share stories and
    photos from the past by posting them to this upload site.


      Upcoming Events:

/Presented by our Anniversary Alumni Partner:

*Shannan Calcutt: 
Tongue */ 
*Tuesday - Saturday, October 25-29 @ 8pm
Saturday, October 29 @2pm *

    This Cirque du Soleil artist is usually seen on the stages of
    Zumanity in Las Vegas. She is also known as her alter ego, Izzy the
    Clown, who is the star of this quirky solo show about a clown who’s
    eager to find love – so eager she shows up to her first blind date
    wearing a wedding dress!

    /"Shannan Calcutt is an absolute darling of an actor, and I defy you
    not to fall under her desperately fragile spell."/ - CBC TV

*Box Office* now open for all Festival tickets 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/phoenix/tickets/>. Call 250-721-8000. 
Subscription packages 
for 3 shows, 4 shows – or all 8 shows! – start at only $39.00.

*November 10 – 26, 2016* | *PREVIEWS: **Nov 8 & 9*
By Christopher Hampton | Directed by Fran Gebhard
/Presented by our Anniversary Alumni Partner:/


    /*/**/*Adapted into the Oscar-winning film *Dangerous Liaisons*,
    Hampton's award-winning original play tells a chilling tale of
    sensual decadence and revenge played among the rich and bored French
    aristocracy as a high-stakes game of life and death. When Valmont is
    challenged to prove his seductive powers, an innocent bride-to-be
    and the virtuous woman are caught in the middle. But while
    sabotaging others’ hearts and reputations, their own prove even more

*Box Office *opens forLes Liaisons Dangereuses tickets 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/phoenix/tickets/> on November 
1.Subscription packages 
for 3 shows, 4 shows – or see all 8 shows! – are available now and start 
at $39.00.

*November 11-13, 2016*
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/reunion/>**ALUMNI REUNION 
/Presented by our Anniversary Alumni Partner:

    Due to overwhelming demand, we've expanded the events over our 50th
    Anniversary Alumni Reunion. So many Department of Theatre alumni
    (and their families!) are already planning to join us over the long
    weekend. Come connect with five decades of grads, talk to old
    friends and meet new ones! Join us for any or all of the following

      * *Thursday*: 8pm
        /Les Liaison Dangereuses /
      * *Friday*: 7pm-1am*
        *Mix n' Mingle in the Mac
        <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/reunion/>(optional play)
      * *Saturday*:
        Decade by Decade Phamily Lunch
      * *Saturday*:
        Social, Dinner, Dance
        <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/reunion/> (optional play)
      * *Sunday*: 11am/12pm
        Phoenix Phamily Phun Run/Walk
        <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/reunion/> followed by
        Farewell Brunch <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/reunion/>

    With amazing support from our sponsors, /iA Financial Group
    <http://www.solutionsinsurance.com/uvic>/and the UVic Alumni
    Association <http://www.uvic.ca/alumni/>, we’ve kept the prices
    incredibly low. We want as many people as possible to attend.
    Alumni, faculty, staff and their guests *should register online
    as the prices go up again on November 1.


      Phoenix Phacts:

//more alumni updates? /*Check out the Alumni Profiles 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/>area of our website. Email 
your updates to us to be posted here in future eNews. Submit 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/forms/phoenixalumnisurvey/biography//> your 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> bio online 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> and yours could be the next 
alumni profile on our website!

*<https://twitter.com/UVicPhoenix>*Follow the most recent department and 
alumni stories by liking us on*Facebook* 
or following us on *Twitter <https://twitter.com/UVicPhoenix>*. Use 
*#phoenixalumni* to stream on our alumni website or tag *@UVicPhoenix* 
for us to retweet your event!


      Sponsor Kudos:

Thank you to the Phoenix Theatre's many individual donors 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/donations/> and corporate sponsors for 
their support of our programs and talented students!

Thanks also to our supporters over the past year from the *Cadboro Bay 
Village* <http://www.cadborobayvillage.com> including: *For Good Measure 
<http://www.forgoodmeasure.ca/>, Pepper's Foods 
<http://peppers-foods.com/>, Smugglers' Cove Pub, 
<http://www.smugglerscovepub.com/> Caddy Bay Liquor Store 
<http://www.caddybayliquor.com> and* *Heart Pharmacy 

Find out how your company can reach our 10,000 audience members and UVic 
community of over 25,000.Contact us <mailto:aholierh at uvic.ca> to discuss 
a customized sponsorship package to meet your goals.


Phoenix eNews is a regular email magazine for those interested in the 
Phoenix Theatre, the not-for-profit productions at the University of 
Victoria's Department of Theatre, PO Box 1700, STN CSC, Victoria, BC, 
V8W 2Y2 Canada. The University of Victoria is a Registered Charity. 
Charitable Registration No. 10816 2470 RR0001

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	© University of Victoria 2015 	

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