Interview: Tonight a Clown will Travel Time at Fe Gallery
According to their website, Murphi Cook and Zach Dorn of Miniature Curiosa present “vaudevillian puppet explosions in parlor rooms, galleries, bathrooms, and empty store fronts.” They’ll be premiering a new show – Tonight a Clown will Travel Time – this Thursday-Sunday at Fe Gallery in Lawrenceville. The event features a memorial and documentary, “Uncle Orville, I Remember” for popcorn luminary Orville Redenbacher, hosted by his niece JMALMALMAL. We got to touch base with Murphi, Zach and Julie about what attendees can expect during the show.
The premise for Tonight a Clown will Travel Time is as follows: “Clown, archivist, and amateur scientist Albert Billows has built a time machine. Disguising his garage as an exclusive memorial for the popcorn luminary, Orville Redenbacher, Mr. Billows invites an unsuspecting audience to participate in its initial voyage. Followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, haunted by a bloodthirsty execution of a lawbreaking pachyderm, and inspired by a mysterious woman from a century earlier, Albert Billows escapes to the past in order to change the course of human history and finally do something useful with his life.”
Kymbo Slice: What is your background in terms of puppeteering? How did Miniature Curiosa form?
Zach Dorn: Miniature Curiosa came about when Murphi and I were selected to participate in The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Pop-Up Program. We created some living window displays on 7th Street, fabricated a photo booth that turns into an unexpected Las Vegas-themed puppet show, and offered on-demand toy theater performances for downtown Pittsburghers during their lunch breaks. Unfortunately, the on-demand puppet shows didn’t catch on. Our most loyal audiences were vet techs and some folks who would stop in everyday while waiting for their transfer bus. I was hoping the idea of on-demand toy theater shows would really appeal to the kids at CAPA, they’d get really into it, and I’d turn into the Drake of the puppet world.
KS: How did you hook up with the Robert C. Smith Fund and the Betsy. R Clark Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation for funding?
ZD: In 2012, I was awarded a Creative Development Grant through the Pittsburgh Foundation and Heinz Endowment’s Investing in Professional Artists program to fund two new puppet spectacles. Murphi and I created the first one, The Luna Park Project, last summer at The Brew House in the South Side.
KS: What should attendees expect when they come to the performance?
ZD: Attendees should expect a lot of popcorn.
Murphi Cook: They should expect flashing light bulb do-it-yourself pageantry. There will be puppets! They should also expect to travel time, so wear outfits that Michael J. Fox would be proud of.
ZD: Oh! They should also brush up on their 1980s music trivia.
KS: What has been your favorite thing about putting together this production?
MC: The puppets. I feel like we really puked out some of our weirdest puppet stylings for this show.
ZD: We got some cool LEDs and a fog machine. I am very excited about the LEDs.
KS: What’s next for Miniature Curiosa?
ZD: I live stream new puppet shows at least once a month from my home studio via my website. I am also working on a new show with The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s f.i.n.e. artist residency in March. The entire set is made from Craigslist-ed dollhouses and found objects. I will manipulate cameras through this miniature world, live projecting tiny puppet scenes to the visitors. Also, we really want to tour Tonight a Clown Will Travel Time. I would really love to bring it to the Nashville and stop in Dollywood along the way.
MC: I just want to be Danielle Steele.
Show dates are Thursday, February 28 and Friday, March 1 at 8PM and Saturday, March 2nd at 7 & 9PM. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door and can be purchased here. Seating is limited, so it is highly advised to buy in advance!