San Francisco Fringe 2019
“Inspired by Jean-Luc Godard, clown Rodeo Debbie conducts an aesthetic investigation, where symposium meets jam session, and the audience contributes vital material. Mr. Godard knows a lot, but you are your own expert on art! “Donnelly’s writing skillfully twists the prosaic into a profound exploration.” (The Scotsman)”
Rodeo Debbie is a curious theatrical clown created and performed by Áine Donnelly of Theatre Infinite. Solitary onstage she watches the audience come in and greets individuals personally in our seats. It’s rather like stepping back in time in some ways but in others its quite timely and certainly refreshing. Her high pitched voice, wide eyes, red clown nose and narrowed mouth as she speaks with great respect to her audience encourages interaction, which is a substantial part of the show.
Wearing a bright yellow lace dress, a tall red knitted hat with a pom pom at the top, Rodeo Debbie has a wooden item on cord hanging across her body – a water flask? No, but it’s a kaleidoscope that she readily shares with the audience to take a look and be transported back to a time of play in our youth. We discover the joy of the transparent colored glass shapes changing pattern as we each take turns looking through the kaleidoscope gently moving the cylinder to create our own wonderment!
Two chairs, one with small items on the seat comprise the simple set. Rodeo Debbie is enthusiastic and effusively positive when engaging in polite conversation. However, this is not fluffy banter that it may seem at first, for Rodeo Debbie is on a mission and imparts her deep knowledge about art and its appreciation in short comments such as “we must talk about art so we can speak about life.” Using her few props and asking us questions she beguiles with simplicity, silent moments and her interest in what makes people tick.
This character is like a quirky librarian, a gentle therapist or knowledgeable art teacher, all at the same time! One thing that is revealed from this show is that there is a need for it, it is disarming, gets us off our devices, provokes us to contemplate other things – and take the time to breathe. The character is not yet fully formed or unified, but will develop with more evaluation and performances. In addition the strength of this character is in short conversations and less so when speechifying. Technology and busy lives take us away from taking the time to listen to each other and we need someone who wants to encourage us, especially in artistic endeavors – go see what Rodeo Debbie has in store for you!