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Comic actress ends the MAT season with the show that helped start it all

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Not Yet, At All was the first show to premiere at the Manitou Art Theater, back in 2002. Now the sole performer starring in the production, Edith Tankus, is returning for an encore.

"It's sort of a special visit to Colorado, which I'm really excited about," says the Toronto native and resident.

Tankus wrote and developed the show with the help of her friend and award-winning vaudevillian Toms Kubnek, whom she describes as "an amazing performer and facilitator with a great eye." Together they created the comedic routine, she says, "with improvisations; by jamming on an idea and letting it evolve."

Besides singing, acting and playing the ukulele, Tankus incorporates trapeze work, which she learned specifically for the production. She plays multiple roles, but the Depression-era story is all seen from the perspective of the central character, a feisty young girl named Francis who has chosen a liberating but dangerous life with the traveling circus.

"It's all serving a story and character who's a bit hapless and incompetent and has fun expressing herself in different ways," Tankus says.

As a true comic, Tankus has no trouble taking on Francis' persona.

"I was cuckoo as a kid," she says. "I used to bounce up and down on my bed and giggle until I fell asleep, "cause I was so tired from laughing."

But in some ways, Tankus has come a long way since then. She has trained at the L'cole Jacques Lecoq and L'cole Philippe Gaulier theatre schools in Paris. She performs and leads workshops in clown and physical theater throughout Canada. She is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of Toronto's Magpye Theatre.

In June, Tankus will go to Connecticut to perform with Kubnek at Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and elsewhere with Circus Remedy, an international arts organization devoted to bringing the circus to children's hospitals all over the world.

Tankus won the Best Actress Award in Victoria B.C. and was featured at the Uno Festival of Solo Performance. Even with all the credit and recognition she's received for her achievements she is simply doing what she loves to do.

"When the audience and I are communicating subtly and on the same page; when they pick up on every nuance, it's really playful and such a joy," she says.

Not Yet, At All is the final performance of the 2006-07 season at the MAT. The 2007-08 year will kick off in the fall.

Not Yet, At All

Manitou Art Theater, 515 Manitou Ave., May 17-19, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $15; call 685-4729 or visit themat.org

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