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A clown, a woman and a saxophone 

Jim Jackson brings a unique brand of performance to the MAT

click to enlarge Its fair to say that in playing 20 characters, Gemma - Wilcox has something to say.
  • Its fair to say that in playing 20 characters, Gemma Wilcox has something to say.
In the 1970s, Jim Jackson toured with two other guys, a monkey, three cats and a horse in a postal-style van. The Royal Lichtenstein Quarter Ring Sidewalk Circus was part protest, part circus and Jackson's first alternative theater performance (ATP).

Alternative theater espouses motives beyond entertainment, such as political or sociological change. It also often incorporates the style of solo shows often featured at the Manitou Art Theater shows with an intimate narrative style, la contemporary memoirists like David Sedaris.

Through his experience in alternative theater, Jackson developed a network of ATPs who keep him and fellow MAT proprietor Birgitta De Pree up to date on the most impressive performers of the day.

That's how De Pree and Jackson heard about Gemma Wilcox's The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over.

Wilcox wrote Honeymoon, the first ATP show of the MAT's '07-'08 season, based on her own marriage and divorce. She plays all 20 characters who meet the stage, and crafts her story by experimenting with different combinations of personalities. She relies on a pact with the audience to believe that she embodies all these people not to mention a saxophone.

When she plays the part of the musical instrument, she speaks in a "sassy, silky, jazzy" voice.

"It's not literal in any way," she says. "It's more like the essence of the saxophone."

As part of the writing process, Wilcox also works from lists. To create her characters for this show, she compiled a list of characteristics that make her jealous. She says the honesty and intimacy she incorporates into the show give audience members the sense that they're learning secrets.

The MAT, which seats 120 people, is the perfect setting for an artist to develop intimacy with the audience.

Wilcox says she partook in random lotteries to get into Canadian Fringe Festivals, which show the works of emerging and established artists in the most affordable, accessible and democratic ways possible. She then developed a unique tour based on which festivals she got into. The performer, originally from England, admits the system does let in "quite a bit of rubbish," but also provides a series of venues for alternative, uncensored and low-budget performers.

A friend with shows in the Canadian festivals e-mailed Jackson and De Pree about Wilcox.

So far this year, Wilcox has performed Honeymoon in Orlando, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Boulder, Winnipeg and Ontario. In Canada, Honeymoon cleaned up three awards, including Best Solo Show.

Without Jackson's savvy connections, Springsters wouldn't have access to this unique brand of theater. Jackson says the artists' craft gives these solo shows the ability to cross cultural boundaries.

"You want it to be really authentic," Jackson says. "That's what makes it art and not just entertainment, which [audience members] can get on cable TV."

The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over
Manitou Art Theater, 515 Manitou Ave.
Thursday, Oct. 18 through Saturday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $16; call 685-4729 or visit themat.org andgemmawilcox.com for more information.

Artist workshop: "Honesty Unleashed"
Manitou Art Theater
Saturday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m. to noon
Tickets: $30; call 685-4729 or visit themat.org.

  • Jim Jackson brings a unique brand of performance to the MAT

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