The celebrated actor and clown’s critically acclaimed one-man show tells the
incredible true story of growing up in San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus
SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2012)— After receiving ecstatic reviews and audience ovations last winter, Lorenzo Pisoni’s celebrated one-man show, Humor Abuse, returns to American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) for an exclusive limited engagement. Created by Pisoni and director Erica Schmidt, Humor Abuse takes us under the big top with Pisoni’s incredible true story of growing up as the youngest member of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. Celebrating the complicated, no-holds-barred life of a performer, Pisoni shows off the tricks of the trade he learned from his father, Pickle cofounder Larry Pisoni. A hilarious and heartfelt event that will delight audiences of all ages, Humor Abuse dazzles with unforgettable stories and mesmerizing routines. The show has been critically acclaimed throughout its runs around the country: the New York Times called Pisoni “a performer of charisma and charm with the split-second timing and aplomb of Buster Keaton;” Variety praised the show as “surprising, funny, and entirely theatrical;” and during the show’s sold-out run in January, the San Francisco Chronicle awarded the show its highest rating, hailing it as “90 minutes of nonstop hilarity . . . a tour de force of physical comedy and a gift to the Bay Area.” Humor Abuse performs August 3–19, 2012 at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). Press night is Friday, August 3, 2012, at 8 p.m. Tickets (starting at $25) are available by calling the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or at act-sf.org.
About returning to the Bay Area, Pisoni—who previously appeared on the A.C.T. stage in 2005’s hugely popular The Gamester and also recently performed in Broadway’s Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe—says: “When I was asked if I was interested in doing Humor Abuse again at A.C.T., there was no question. Being able to share the story of my father and the Pickle Family Circus with Bay Area audiences was an absolute dream come true and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to share it all again.”
Pisoni was born into the Pickle Family Circus shortly after his parents, Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider, founded the alternative big top in 1974 with their juggling partner, Cecil MacKinnon. After Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle joined their ranks—creating the incomparable clown trio of Lorenzo Pickle (Pisoni), Willy the Clown (Irwin), and Mr. Sniff (Hoyle)—the Pickles became a venerable and beloved Bay Area institution. They toured the West Coast (and beyond) through the 1980s and ’ 90s and led the charge in the renewal of the American circus, exchanging animal acts, pyrotechnics, and the supersized three-ring format with daring acrobatics and its famous show-stopping group juggle, all presented on one intimate stage so audiences would not miss a single moment. Lorenzo Pisoni grew up in this hotbed of creativity, first appearing onstage at the age of two. He became his father’s clown partner not long after, and he continued to perform with the troupe during his teens. Pisoni, a natural storyteller, gives the audience a unique take on the familiar coming-of-age story and creates a moving and hilarious portrait of a father-and-son relationship. His recollections are centered around physically demanding tricks (both newly created acts as well as and reenactments of his father’s famous Pickle performances) that show off his skills as a juggler, acrobatic, clown, and physical comedian.
The creative team for Humor Abuse includes lighting designer Ben Stanton (Seminar on Broadway, Angels in America at the Signature Theatre), sound designer Bart Fasbender (over 100 productions, including work at The Public Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Atlantic Theater Company), and composer Randy Craig (who is an original Pickle Family Circus member and recently composed and performed the music for A.C.T.’s production of Scapin). Humor Abuse is stage-managed by Hannah Cohen.
A.C.T.’s production of Humor Abuse is made possible by producer Marilee K. Gardner. A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge its 2012–13 season company sponsors Ray and Dagmar Dolby, Frannie Fleishhacker, Ambassador James C. Hormel and Michael P. Nguyen, Koret Foundation, Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Mary and Steven Swig, Doug Tilden, and Jeff and Laurie Ubben.
A.C.T.’ s 2012–13 season continues with many other incredible productions. Next up is the West Coast premiere of George C. Wolfe’s Tony Award–winning production of The Normal Heart (September 13–October 7, 2012), followed by Carey Perloff’s sweeping production of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Elektra (October 25–November 18, 2012), featuring core acting company member René Augesen in the title role and associate artist (and Academy Award winner) Olympia Dukakis as the fiercely partisan Chorus Leader. December brings A.C.T.’s celebrated production of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol (November 29–December 24, 2012), now in its 36th year. This version of A Christmas Carol,, adapted by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff, stays true to the heart of Dickens’s timeless story of redemption and brings a playful sensibility to his rich language. Widely considered one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, Tennessee Williams’ sultry classic, A Streetcar Named Desire (January 17–February 10, 2013) takes the stage in a sumptuous new production. Next A.C.T will present the world premiere of George F. Walker’s Dead Metaphor—a hilarious dark comedy about the hypocrisies of postwar living (February 28–March 24, 2013). In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. is thrilled to continue the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage with the world premiere of Stuck Elevator (April 4–28, 2013). A powerful and poignant hip-hop opera, Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. As the event of the season, A.C.T. is thrilled to present the Bay Area premiere of The National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch (May 3–June 9, 2013). Written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany (who recently won a Tony Award for his inventive work on the acclaimed Broadway musical Once), Black Watch is based on interviews Burke conducted with soldiers of the legendary Scottish regiment who served in Iraq. The 2012–13 season culminates with a new production of Tom Stoppard’s masterwork Arcadia (May 16–June 9, 2013). Hailed as one of the best plays of the 20th century, Arcadia unfolds in a beautiful English country house and moves between the 19th century and the present through a series of love stories, as characters from both eras discover connections, unearth mysteries, and unravel hidden truths about the nature of heat and desire. To subscribe or to receive a season brochure, please call 415.749.2250 or visit act-sf.org.
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