By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Shannon Haddock
Name: Phillip Gerba
How did you first get involved in theatre?
I think my first taste of theater came in middle school with the Odyssey of the Mind where we made a sketch to go along with the action as we tried to stack as much weight as we could on a few bits of balsa wood glued together. I have to say that I didn't really consider it as a career choice until halfway through my college education when I changed my major from Political Science to Theater.
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influence has to be Jeff Raz and his Clown Conservatory in San Fransico, which I graduated from back in 2003. Other big influences are John Gilkey of Cirque fame, Dan Chumley with the San Fransisco Mime Troupe, and Ellen Stewart who willed La MaMa ETC into existence. Of course the great vaudevillians who went to film, like Buster Keaton, W. C. Fields, and Charlie Chaplin, are also constant sources of inspiration.
Tell me a little bit about your show.
Onomatopoeia presents clowning and juggling in a brand new light. Three characters present a collection of short scenes which explore a single idea through physical theater and object manipulation. As the title suggests the only spoken words in the piece will be Onomatopoeias!
What inspired Onomatopoeia?
I wanted to create a comic three-person juggling show that used juggling as a storytelling medium. Often in modern juggling shows the tricks are just punctuations to humorous patter, or based solely on the "wow" factor of amazing tricks, and the beauty of the craft. To ensure this I limited my words to onomatopoeias so that I wouldn't rely on patter. I based each act on a single simple concept to explore with juggling and clowning. With that concept holding the act together I was free to think of juggling tricks as a way to express an idea rather than something to impress the audience.
Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?
Lisa Soverino and David Ellis are both joining me onstage for the FRIGID festival. I have juggled with them both casually for almost a year, and we have performed a short scene from Onomatopoeia at Bindelstiff's Open Stage Variety Show in February. Dave and I also were shot to be in a scene for an upcoming French film last fall. I would also like to give a special thanks to Dan Berkeley and Andrew Smerek who both helped me develop this act in its earliest stages.
What's next for you after FRIGID?
We will be creating an online club passing tutorial for IJA's first annual YouTube Juggling Tutorial Contest. I have also submitted Onomatopoeia to this year's Fringe festival in New York.
And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?
We put the fun in funny, so get ready to laugh out loud.
By Phillip Gerba
The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street
Thu 2/25 - 6:00 PM
Sat 2/27 - 5:30 PM
Wed 3/03 - 10:30 PM
Fri 3/05 - 8:30 PM
Sun 3/07 - 7:00 PM