Reviewed by Gail M. Burns, July 1999
Sometimes you find theatre in the strangest places. On Tuesday night I found it way at the back of the playing fields at Mt. Greylock Regional High School. It was an idyllic summer evening, still light throughout the 7 PM show, which ran just 45 minutes. There was one performer on the stage and her props and costumes were all home made. The investment in this show was one of love and talent, not one of dollars and cents.
And sometimes love and talent are enough. The love that was evident was that of performer for material, and of the love invested in this young woman by her parents and the community where she grew up. About thirty people trekked across the playing fields, dragging folding chairs and blankets and picnic suppers. They were all ages and races and sizes. They came because they knew that theatre doesn't require thousands of dollars and a computerized light board to happen. And they came to see Emily Windover.
Windover and her family have lived in Williamstown since she was five. She is a 1995 graduate of Mt. Greylock Regional High School who has spent what might have been her college years living the life of a struggling artist. Last year an important thing happened to her and her career when she was accepted in to the Dell'Arte School of Physical Performance in Blue Hills, California.
The year at Dell'Arte was obviously a transforming experience for Windover, who has emerged as a much more confident and well-rounded performer. Confident enough to offer up a one-woman clown show "HelloHiThanks" to the people who know her the best. And we all know that a prophet is without honor in his own country. There is no tougher crowd than the folks who knew you when.
Last week, when I spoke with Windover about clowning and the development of her clown character, she said that finding her "own little clown inside" was the most rewarding part of working alone on this solo show. And I must say that I agree, meeting her little clown was a joy and a pleasure. The person performing looked like Emily Windover, but she was not. She was a new clown creation. I wonder if she has a name?
Windover also spoke of the perils of developing comedy alone. But she found she grew from making her own decisions about what was fun and what was funny - that it was good to for her to make her own choices and then have to stand by them in front of an audience. The audience seemed to agree with many of the choices she had made, as there was much laughter from the crowd.
This is a clown show, so it doesn't have a plot that I can summarize for you. There are jokes and gags and monologues and, at the end, a dance. Windover succeeded in creating images that will stay in my own mind, under the category of "Very Funny Things", for many years to come.
Windover is still young. Her clown character is an emerging work in progress. She is not quite ready for Prime Time, but there is nothing wrong with where she is right now considering her tender age and the fact that she just graduated from Dell'Arte's one year program two months ago. I look forward to seeing her and her little clown grown and develop.
Windover will be performing "HelloHiThanks" once again at 6 PM on Friday, August 6 at Caretaker Farm on Hancock Road in South Williamstown. The performance is free, although donations are welcome. Call Windover at 413-458-5446 for further information.
copyright Gail M. Burns, 1999