She studied classical piano and trained as a theater director, but when Diana Kolpac saw clown duo Mump and Smoot in Toronto, she was inspired by what they had to say through comedy.
She began studying “comedy horror clowns” and discovered that clowns allowed her to combine her talents of acting, singing, writing and costume design.
“I think clowns are one of the most subversive art forms,” said Kolpak, who grew up watching Red Skelton. “You can make people laugh and say serious things at the same time. That’s what clowns mean to me, to be honest, to hold up a mirror of society and tell the truth, some of which we don’t want to see, in a way that people The way you would laugh at it but then think, ‘Well, that’s really serious.'”
Like her 15-minute piece “Perfect,” she had liposuction on herself at the Vienna International Clown Festival (Clownin’). Later in the hall, a young man told her that the solo piece was his favorite festival because it was both serious and fun.
“I say thank you because that’s exactly what I want to do,” said Kolpak, the first Canadian to perform at the clown.
Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, Kolpac lived in Toronto for many years before moving to Comox Valley last year. She studied at McGill University in Montreal and has a master’s degree in directing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kolpak sees the Joker as “a powerful archetype in our minds.” She compares them to court jesters – the only ones who can tell the truth to the royal family.
On stage, she says there is a magic in the intersection between performer and audience.
“Joker made my dreams come true,” Kolpak said. “When you put on that little red nose, or play the character, the audience just follows you.
“Joker has a power,” she added. “As a performer, you have to take responsibility for that.”
In February, she made her Comox Valley debut with a solo performance of her musical “Blue” at Courtney’s Artful: The Gallery.
Some of her performances use casts. For example, the Gorgonetrevich Corps de Ballet Nationale in “The Gates of Bethany” has eight actors.
“Depends on the project,” Kolpak said. “I follow my instincts to my next project. Sometimes it’s a play, sometimes a short story, sometimes a poem, sometimes a full-length work.”
She is always looking for partners to do something fun and creative with art.
“Crazy ideas are great, let’s see what we can do with it.”
—Scott Stanfield, Comox Valley Record Special Correspondent
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