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August 26, 2008

Profiles - Emily Newton - Clown

Submitted Photo
Submitted Photo

Emily Newton has been clowning around ever since she graduated high school. Professionally. 

Newton, 19, a Brown School and Walden Theatre Alum, was an avid performing artist from a young age, and when she graduated high school, a teacher from Walden passed her a brochure for a school in Southern California called the Dell’Arte School of Physical Ensemble Theatre. Newton had never heard of the school, although she’s originally from California and has family there. 

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she says. 

Newton learned the basic principles of physical theater, which focuses on the body and how it is used in space. The study of this craft is the foundation for all aspects of theater, and especially crucial for comedy. That’s where the clowns come in. 

“The Dell’Arte style is character-based clowning,” Newton says. This means they don’t do a lot of juggling and throwing of pies. “The possibility for mistake is huge, and the possibility for success is also huge,” she says. “But right as you get to that success, you fall again. But it doesn’t matter, because you’re laughing.” Newton explains that the clown world is one in which actors are “moving from one emotion to another, but being completely honest about it.” 

At school, Newton created her own clown, Mitzi, who she says began a polite and quiet clown, but through improvisation and character exploration got louder and meaner, which made her performance pieces, you know, pretty funny. An ensemble piece that Mitzi is a part of was accepted to compete in New York City this fall at a festival. 

In the fall, she plans to work at a puppet theater in Oregon, something she has also never done before. But, she says, “Louisville is always home.” —Jane Mattingly