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UW-Fox Hosts 'Living Clown History'

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Menasha, WI-- The University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley is hosting a very special performance on Monday, November 15, 1999, at 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., in the UWFox Student Union. Arthur Pedlar is a professional clown AND a clown historian. His performance at UWFox is a combination of narrative clown lecture as he prepares his clown appearance, and an actual clown performance.

Pedlar's career as a clown was inspired "when he was a youngster and saw Emmet Kelly perform at London's Bertram Mills Circus." According to Pedlar, he felt "Emmet's comedy was based on a core of truth that ran through all his routines."

Pedlar has been a clown since 1953, when he joined the "Spider Austin clown troop performing a very famous indoor circus called the 'Cirque Medano' in Paris." While this circus was in a permanent building, the show changed every three weeks. The clowns in that show typically stayed for nine months, and they individually had to create new routines for each show. During that time, Pedlar had the opportunity to work with the legendary Buster Keaton.

After his stint in Paris, Pedlar helped run his family business and spent his vacation time doing "Cabaret work in nightclubs and music halls on the Mediterranean Coast." For the first twenty-five years of his clown career, Pedlar performed as a tramp clown specializing in musical and unicycle comedy, in the tradition of Emmet Kelly. His pantomime routine allowed him to work anywhere without the restrictions of a language barrier.

In 1978, Pedlar changed his clown persona to that of an older man, named Vercoe, which is actually his own middle name.

Pedlar's interest in clown history came about as a result in his lifelong passion for the rich tradition of clowning and in preserving its heritage. His creation of Arturo is out of respect for that rich tradition. Often appearing with a partner for the whiteface routine, Pedlar sometimes uses a puppet of his own creation when a qualified partner is not available. In 1985, Pedlar created another character, Arty, that makes special appearances in churches, prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Throughout his clowning career, Pedlar has appeared at schools for mentally and physically disabled children. He was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1992.

Arthur Pedlar's lecture and performance at UWFox is free and open to the public. There is plenty of free parking on the West Side of the campus building. The University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley is located at 1478 Midway Road, Menasha, just west of S. Oneida St., east of S. Memorial Drive, and just south of Hwy. #441.

by Dave Hager

Director of University Relations


Posted 11/12/1999