Clown Prince of Theatre: Garry Starr Performs Everything

We’re big fans of the ludicrous and playful here at Gutter Culture, so we were quite curious to find out about the clown-fuelled show Garry Starr Performs Everything.

Damien Warren-Smith, who brings Garry Starr to life in ebullient fashion, was generous enough to chat with us. Here’s what he had to say.

Image courtesy of Dallas Bland

Image courtesy of Dallas Bland

Gutter Culture: Tell us about what inspired Garry Starr Performs Everything.

Damien Warren-Smith: The character of Garry Starr emerged whilst working with clown troupe The Plague of iDiots but performing everything goes right back to my childhood. My brother used to laugh at me for never sticking with anything. I tried every sporting and creative endeavour under the sun but never stuck with any. The result is a vague (yet passionate) understanding of a lot of different artforms. That’s basically the show.

GC: Garry Starr seems like a force to be reckoned with - what drives him?

DWS: Garry is driven by audience approval. He doesn’t really understand why he does so much of what he does but the audience seem to like it so he keeps going.

GC: How has clowning informed the show?

DWS: Clowning plays a huge part in the show, especially in the early development stages. I think the longer I play the show the more he’s becoming a character but that could just be my perception. I’m sure everyone has a different idea about what the difference is but for me a clown is more dangerous and more chaotic whereas a character can drive a show forward which is useful when you’re at a festival with a 15-minute changeover between shows. A clown would just keep playing as long as the audience is laughing which is very difficult for programming.

Image courtesy of Joseph Till

Image courtesy of Joseph Till

GC: What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened during a performance?

DWS: I once got someone up to play Juliet and her name was actually Juliet; she showed me her license.

GC: It seems like Garry Starr Performs Everything is playing with the notion of high/low art. What do you think about that?

DWS: We played with the idea of doing a high art show way back with The Plague of iDiots. High art performed with low intelligence… I’m sure there’s something very profound to say about this but I don’t know what.

GC: Every genre of theatre in just one hour… is Garry a reliable judge of what everything is? Is there anything that’s off limits?

DWS: It’s very childlike to make claims like this which is very clownish. As far as Garry is concerned, everything simply means everything that he knows, like some political leaders. Nothing is off limits as long as it’s handled with sensitivity.

GC: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

DWS: Only that my new show Garry Starr Conquers Troy is premiering in Adelaide in February so keep an eye out for that in Perth soon too.

Garry Starr Performs Everything runs 29 January to 2 February at The Blue Room Theatre, plus 8 and 9 February at Funtavia. Get tickets here.