Bringing In The Clowns . . . and the Submarines

Slater Penney thinks one of the reasons audiences enjoy his and Jaron Hollander’s latest two-person theater piece, The Submarine Show, has to do with the relationship between the two performers. They’ve known each other so long, it’s visible onstage, Penney says.

How long? Well, they met in a drama class at Berkeley’s Willard Middle School.

“We knew each other when we had hair,” Penney, an Emmy winner and teacher of circus arts and physical theater, about Hollander, a former Cirque du Soleil performer who directs the Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland.

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Hollander agrees their chemistry and total trust in each other helps. It’s nice to bring that back to the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley where they were children, he says.

“This is show so much about imagination and play,” he said. “It’s really wonderful to come back to do this where I grew up.”

Penney says the idea for the show came one day when he and Hollander were doing some clown exercises together and a friend told them they looked like they were in a submarine. So they decided they were. In the show, they fly through the air, swim and end up on a jungle island.

They’ve done it about 200 times, Hollander says, and he looks forward to it every time because the show captures the audience members’ imagination, and they are willing to go along for the ride.

“A lot of invisible things are made visible,” Hollander said. “I tell people the special effects are stupendous even though there are none.”

The Submarine Show, Harry’s UpStage, 
Aurora Theatre Company,
 2081 Addison St., Berkeley, Through Oct. 25, $28-$32, 510-843-4822. 

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