A clown is still a clown 

Shannan Calcutt breaks barriers as alter ego Izzy

Who: Shannan Calcutt

What: Out of My Skin

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Friday, March 12, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $17 - $20

The clown is one of the most iconic and adapted figures in North American culture.

There’s the happy birthday balloon twister and the benevolent happy meal-bearing corporate mascot.

There are the kitschy sad hobos on black velvet sold for $9.99 at low rent malls in bad parts of town, the B Movie and hardcore nü metal horror clowns and the consummate performer circus clowns, both of the traditional three-ring variety and the new school Cirque du Soleil.

And then there’s Izzy, a relentless seeker of love, companionship and a perfect body, the clown alter ego of Canadian performer Shannan Calcutt.

A perennial Fringe Festival act, Izzy is the star, by default, of Calcutt’s performance trilogy Burnt Tongue , It’s Me, Only Better, and Out of My Skin . It’s the latter that Calcutt will perform next Friday at MY Place, a piece that picks up with Izzy after she has "lost everything," a situation inspired by a real life incident whereby Calcutt’s car was broken into and all her performance props, costumes, makeup – basically everything Izzy – was stolen.

What the thieves planned to do with a wedding dress and a case of clown makeup, including the ubiquitous red nose, is a question for the ages.

What Calcutt did is open herself to the delicate territory where life and art cross paths. Out of My Skin opens with Izzy onstage with several replacement wedding dresses, none of which can replace the one that was stolen. From that point on, Calcutt as Izzy is driving the clown car with the entire audience packed in for a wild ride.

She may look like a sweet young thing with big wide eyes and a cute red nose, but Calcutt isn’t playing to the kids. When she takes on self-respect and body image she takes it on, or more accurately, off, wholeheartedly. Out of My Skin shows plenty of skin, and contains adult content. Take the kids to see the clowns at the circus, not Shannan Calcutt.

"I would say I would be more progressive, but it’s hard because what is a traditional clown?" she muses. "Clowns used to be really political and speak out before they were censored. Izzy totally speaks out and at one time that was a traditional clown. But in today’s society you think traditional and you think the Shriners or Barnum & Bailey."

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