Cherry the Clown – Mayhem and Magic

Cherry the Clown aka Adi Paxton 

Adi Paxton aka Cherry the Clown at St Clements @ 6, Monday 31 May 2014 Pic Gisele Turner

Adi Paxton celebrates 26 years of being a professional clown this year (2014) and her well-known well-loved character Cherry the Clown celebrates 21 years of appearing at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Adi studied drama at UKZN where she was bitten by the clowning bug, thanks to Prof Scholtz’ children’s plays and the influence of Ellis Pearson.  On Monday evening at St Clements (Musgrave Road, Durban) she treated a delighted audience to her impressive range of skills. 

 Being a full-time freelance professional theatre practitioner requires more than talent! Hard work and flexibility are core to managing a successful on-going career as a children’s entertainer. Adi Paxton is an institution in Durban and her talk about the where, why, how and when of her profession offered insight into just what it takes.

Voila! the little girl dress is gone and a fully dressed clown stands before us! Abricazebra! and the balls disappear, the scarf changes colour, the bag contains an egg, the ring passes through the rope and several coloured rings appear from nowhere! Alli-oop! and would you like a dog, frog, parrot, rabbit or cat out of the super-long balloon that is blown up and twisted in seconds? Here we go! Poi, sticks, juggling balls, hats within hats and singing puppets are all deftly handled with the practice that comes from years of experience.

Adi developed an interest in magic from an early age and is KwaZulu-Natal’s only female magicienne. With her background in dance and movement, she has the dexterity to manage circus props like juggling balls and spinning plates. Dressed in bright colours, with an outrageous hat on her head, she demonstrated her ability to make herself up as a white faced clown in less than 7 minutes, while chatting to us at the same time! 

“I have been in the highest of places – I was one of the entertainers at Madiba’s birthday celebration – and I have trundled out to far away rural areas where the entire village has sat in a tent waiting for me to come and entertain them,” she said. “I work in schools and hospitals, at private birthday parties and at big corporate events. Sometimes the audience is huge and I am in a massive venue, other times there’s scarcely room to set up my puppet booth! But whatever the occasion, the children always know how to show their appreciation and I have been the recipient of many, many group hugs from happy kids.”

Adi has a Master Degree in Communication, and although she has tasted academic life, she prefers to take to the road with her shows. “Working with Dr. Pamela Tancsik I have travelled with shadow puppet theatre to Germany, where I had to learn to speak some German! I devise, write and perform in my own plays, which always include my circus skills, mime and magic. Cherry the Clown is my alter ego, my companion and my livelihood,” she concluded. 

Adi’s demonstration / lecture was fascinating and exciting and also a real eye opener for people who assume that being a clown in the street doesn’t take much. With a battalion of well-honed skills whoopsed out her magic bag of tricks, she kept us all thoroughly entertained and delightfully surprised. 

St Clements @ 6 is organised by Pieter Scholtz, and is free of charge although there is a donation box. Book launches, play readings, poetry, local documentaries, talks and musical soirees are included in the line up. Call Pieter on 031 3682022 for more information.   




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