New York Clown Theatre Festival at the Brick in Williamsburg

These clowns aren’t clowning around

The Brooklyn Paper
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Who would have thought that actors with red noses were meant for the silver screen?

The nation’s only clown theater festival is returning to Williamsburg next month — and this year it boasts a “clown-sourced” silent film.

Clown troupes from around the world filmed simple scenes inspired by prompts such as “find a banana” or “fall down” using an iPhone app with a jerky hand-cranked camera aesthetic and edited the footage into one collaborative piece accompanied by piano for inclusion in the New York Clown Theatre Festival at Brick Theater in Williamsburg.

“There’s a broad range of tradition and interpreta­tion,” said organizer Audrey Crabtree. “It’s an emotional journey.”

Other cinematic displays at the festival include a clown interpretation of the Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” — a rendition in which a nomadic traveler strikes up a relationship with a pig.

Don’t expect all of them to look like Bozo: some performers use the classic red nose; others don’t.

And they all consider their craft a true form of art, Crabtree said.

“These actors express vulnerability and true emotions,” she said. “Most people think about birthday parties or circuses when they think about clowning — but we don’t do any of that.”

New York Clown Theatre Festival at the Brick [575 Metropolitan Ave. between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 907–6189], Sept. 7–30. $15.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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