MICHAEL MASKEDMichael Kennard’s used to clowning around, but you’ve never seen him tackle something like his new show, Puzzle Me Red.Best known as half of gibberish-speaking clown duo Mump and Smoot, Kennard currently lives and teaches in Edmonton.
He’s back in T.O. to premiere Puzzle, but though John Turner (Smoot) is directing, don’t expect an M and S show. For one thing, it’s a solo piece, and for another, it’s an unusual blend of clown and mask.
“I wanted to see what would happen if I mixed together two styles that fascinate me,” says Kennard. “They both break the theatre’s fourth wall, though in different ways. Clown involves the audience in the action, while mask forces a performer to rely on physicality and the use of the eyes.
“In mask, a little tilt of the head can have huge meaning; working with masks often requires the performer to communicate through silence rather than words.”
Biv Rogy, the show’s central figure, is an Everyman seduced by the media yet trying to do the right thing to fight climate change, war, starvation and the myriad of planetary ills we all face.
“All these things have an effect on us in an unconscious emotional way,” notes the writer/actor. “Most people want to do good, but they’re caught in a world where doing good often means having to do something bad.
“People still drive their cars to deliver used clothes to those in need, or express their concern about poverty in Africa but waste food they buy here.”
Turns out that Biv – who drives a Hummer – has trouble reconciling his charitable thoughts for others and concern about his own image. Even a visit to a getaway log cabin can’t quiet the conflicting thoughts racing through his mind.
Kennard loves creating a character different from the self-?centred, demanding Mump (though he and Turner are planning a new M and S show down the road).
“Every step you take opens a door.”