Jack Kelly (Ken Do) and Henry Maynard (Tatterdemalion) present the first collaboration between their two companies OftheJackel and Flabbergast Theatre (Boris And Sergey) – The Bouffon Clown Double Act Skrimshanks. Skrimshanks performs at the Assembly George Square Theatre from the 3rd – 28th August, with breaks on the 16th and 22nd.
We spoke to Jack Kelly about the show, and about why the world needs the Bouffon clown.
Theatre Bubble: What inspired the creation of Skrimshanks?
Jack Kelly: Skrimshanks is an archaic army term applied to someone not doing their duty. We were interested in what our duty is, as artists in our mid (mumbles incomprehensibly) -ties, as humans and as a society where we’re raised to believe that fairness is the very pinnacle of morality yet live in a world of stark inequality.
Also I think our lives have been building towards making a show where we could be unpleasant to people under the guise of art and have them applaud us for it at the end.
TB: How does your Bouffon work depart from your clown work?
JK: From my perspective Ken Do is an idiot that through his idiocy and failure, hopefully, you feel a bit better about yourself after seeing him. I think the same is true of Tatterdemalion, watching someone struggling to make sense of the world around them allows us to laugh at our common humanity in a gentle way. As for Skrimshanks, the focus is very much on the audience and their failures, hopes, dreams etc. We the bouffons, are there to gently help you along like mischievous spirit animals. It’s much less about us putting on a show and more about meeting the audience and seeing what happens.
TB:What are you most looking forward to about the Edinburgh Fringe?
JK: The chance to meet lots of new people every day who have no idea what to expect.
TB: You both have worked with Eric Davis (Red Bastard) – what do you feel you learned most from this experience?
JK: Actually, only Henry has worked with Eric. I’ve met him and seen his show. I thought it was wonderful. Whilst it was a fantastic performance he was very disciplined in keeping the focus on us the audience. This is something we wanted in our show. Though feedback we had early on was how much people enjoyed the flights of fancy we departed on. Who are we to disappoint them? So we’ve tried to strike a balance.
TB: Why do people need Bouffon in their lives?
JK: At its best it should remind us that we’re all foolish and vulnerable and that life is a precious thing. We would all rather not face up to our less likeable elements, vanity, pomposity, mendacity – all the ‘ity’s basically. In today’s world with social media and camera phones there’s more and more opportunity to construct an image of ourselves that shields us from facing these things. Though I think that’s a terrible idea. If you try and insulate yourself from failure and foolishness and the bits about you that you don’t like, then well I think you become Donald Trump and no one needs that.
Buy tickets for Skrimshanks here.