Conversation with Actress and Clown Christine Moynihan

Ethel goes to Montreal. Christine Moynihan. Ethel goes to Montreal. Christine Moynihan.

Share with:

I have known Christine “Chris” Moynihan for decades. I even directed her in Colorado when we were both students in the theatre department at the University of Colorado. She has always been that rarest of actors — thoroughly engaged intellectually as well as emotionally in her performances. These traits make her debut as a clown all the more intriguing.

Christine Moynihan.
Christine Moynihan.

Moynihan came to Montreal from Boulder, fell in love, and had three children. Somehow, even in Toronto, acting was not a financial option because her husband passed away. She applied for the job at Equity and was hired to which her response was, “Are you SURE?” For over a decade Chris was the administrator of the Equity Showcase in Toronto. When it was time to move on she became the director of Dance Umbrella of Ontario. She is still grateful for the opportunities these jobs gave her to meet some of the most interesting people around.

While she was at Equity, John Turner of Mump and Smoot gave a Baby Clown Workshop, and all the staff at Equity took it. Turner studied with Richard Pochinko (1946–89) who played a pioneering role in North American clown theatre through the creation of an original pedagogy synthesizing modern European and indigenous Native American techniques.

Moynihan kept trying to retire, and was pulled back twice. Then, one morning she woke up and knew that she needed to do more clown. She signed up for more work with Turner and took two classes at Manitoulin Island. The results were the show, Outside Ethel: Inside — A Clown Show, which she performed at the Toronto Fringe and will be performing at Mainline Theatre as part of the Festival Bouge d’Ici.

Christine Moynihan in Outside Ethel Inside. Photo by Maylynn Quan
Christine Moynihan in Outside Ethel Inside. Photo by Maylynn Quan

I asked about the red nose and her response was that the nose is universal and traditional in a way where the clowning becomes a metaphor and it is easier to express the insanity of the human condition. The nose takes one beyond the quotidian and allows one to address much larger issues — all this while the audience is laughing its socks off.

Outside Ethel: Inside, a clown show is at the MainLine Theatre (3997 ST Laurent Blvd) from January 9-11 as part of Festival Bouge d’Ici. Showa at 8 P.M. It is for ages 13+ For tickets, contact the box office at 514-849-3378 from Tuesday to Saturday between 2PM and 6PM, or come in person to 3997 St-Laurent Blvd from Tuesday to Saturday between 2PM and 6PM. Info HERE.

also of interest