Helen is an actor, instructor and theatrical, therapeutic and circus clown.
Theatre: In 2005, Helen formed her own theatrical clown company, Foo Productions. Shows were created and produced including Posey’s Wig (2005, 2006) and The Foo Talk Show (2006). Her clown persona Foo has performed for 3 years at Scotiabank’s BUSKERFEST (Feed the Foo, Leonardo da Foo) and annually at the Toronto International Circus Festival (Disco Foo, Leonardo da Foo) and hosting/co-hosting circus shows.
Saucisse: A Foo Musical, will be Foo Production’s second theatrical clown musical creation.
Circus: She returned in 2002 after clowning with Cirque du Soleil for 1.5 years, performing over 400 shows all across the United States and then for their Special Events worldwide, from England to Brazil. Specializing in animation (walkabout), she continues to entertain at special events in the corporate setting and currently works with Zero Gravity Circus
and Circus Orange.
Teaching: She has been teaching clown and movement workshops in the US and Canada for over 11 years. She runs independent workshops in theatrical clown regularly in Toronto and at the Haliburton School of the Arts.
Training: Helen is a graduate from the University of Toronto with an Honours B.A., Specialist in Drama. Helen has studied clown with David Shiner (Cirque du Soleil, Fool Moon), Roch Jutras (Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize), John Turner and Mike Kennard (of Mump and Smoot fame), Grindl Kuchirka and Theatre Smith-Gilmour. She continues her study of the art form with Francine Cote.
Therapeutic Clowning: Aside from her work in the theatrical clown realm, she is a professional therapeutic clown offering artistic clown interaction through therapeutic play at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Her passion in the therapeutic clown field includes raising standards of practice and involving herself in research efforts and participating and presenting at several conferences locally and globally.
1) Tell us about your show in the festival and why you’re doing it?
For many years I did a clown turn involving Foo and a Sausage called ‘Saucisse’. Last fall I started to ask myself: ‘how did Foo and Saucisse meet? What’s their relationship about? What adventures would they go on?’ Around that time, I was going through a major personal loss when my friend and clown partner died from cancer at a young age. Writing the story of Foo and Saucisse was also a way for me to explore our relationship and personalities through clown.
Of course the other reason I’m doing the show is Foo is jealous of my other clown personas. A few years ago my other clowns Mildred and Miss Posey did a successful musical called Posey’s Wig. I promised Foo that we’d collaborate on a new musical just for Foo. And you just don’t say no to Foo!
2) Is your number clown, bouffon, character or something else entirely?
100% clown. The real red-nosed variety. Unabashed silliness celebrating
clown mixed with song, dance -and puppetry of all things!
3) What is your best clown experience? Either as a performer or a spectator?
When touring with Cirque du Soleil, I was clowning in the VIP tent when Cher showed up with a friend and her young son. I had a great time ignoring Cher while pretending her friend’s son was famous. He kept trying to tell me that Cher was famous, but I refused to believe him. Cher was amused and played along with the gag.
Another favourite clown moment is whenever I clown with Circus Orange in their show Tricycle. Foo rides on top of the world’s largest tricycle, steering it through crowds of thousands of people while fireworks explode all around me. It doesn’t get more fun than that.
4) Your worst?
I remember having the stomach flu during a corporate gig. It came on suddenly, so I couldn’t bow out. I would perform, excuse myself artfully, be sick, clean up, clown again…for over 2 hours. It was brutal! Fortunately, I got away with it…
5) Are there any public figures you consider to be clowns? Why?
Rob Ford is a natural clown, but he just doesn’t know it, which makes him even funnier. He could have a whole other career after politics.
6) Tell us a joke.
Foo you too!
7) Anything else…?
I’m so excited to premiere this show at the Clown Festival before remounting it here at Pia Bouman October 10-20th. Thanks again! May the Foo be with you!