HISTORY Foo Productions was founded in 2005 based in Toronto and headed by clown artist Helen Donnelly. The following artists have joined her:
Directors: Susanna Hamnett, Michael Kennard, Neil MuscottDramaturgy/co-writer: Neil Muscott, Susanna Hamnett Lighting designer: Michelle Ramsey Set designer: Lindsay Ann Black Music composers: James Fisher and Matthew Reid Stage Managers: Jennifer Lee, Farnoosh Talebpour, Jess Wilder THE SHOWS: To date, Foo Productions has created and performed nine professional productions in theatre, cabaret and circus festivals: Posey's Wig (2005 and 2006), The Foo Talk Show (2006 and 2007), Feed the Foo (2008 and 2009), Disco Foo (2011) and Leonardo da Foo (2011). Posey Sings (2011-). Saucisse: A Foo Musical is the second clown musical created by Foo Productions and was featured at the Toronto Festival of Clowns June 2012 and at the New York Clown Theatre Festival 2012. It remounted in October 2012 to critical acclaim. As the Foo Turns was featured at the Toronto Festival of Clowns in 2014. In 2015, The Reverend Foo Revival Time was born and remounted as a full show at last year's Festival of Clowns, 2016. In 2012, Helen began THE FOOLISH CABARET in Toronto. It has enjoyed much success due to its high standards and unique content. This physical theatre cabaret features emerging and established artists in the following disciplines: MASK, MIME, BOUFFON and CLOWN. Interested in performing at the popular FOOLISH CABARET? Contact Helen to submit your piece for the next FOOLISH CABARET! email: email@example.com MANDATE The mandate of Foo Productions is to create quality one-person theatrical and/or festival clown shows that will:
Entertain through the parody of existing theatrical genres
Educate audiences and students of clown
Challenge audiences with provocative themes expressed through clowning and physical theatre
Reach a more multicultural and diverse audience by creating imaginative and accessible theatrical languages.
Helen was forced to retire this company due to her illness and the pandemic.
ABOUT HELEN DONNELLY: “Donnelly has the warm heart and icy blood of a master playwright." -Mooney on Theatre “Donnelly's clown is dark, but playful, and makes us laugh and think." -EviDANCE, CIUT “Donnelly is a wildly energetic performer and keeps the audience cackling throughout the show, a difficult task for a single performer spreading their energy over multiple roles." - FAB Magazine “Donnelly is the endearing figure, delight, amazement and playfulness apparent in her fine physical and facial work.” - NOW Magazine “Helen Donnelly… is bold, experimental and on her way to the top.” - The Toronto Star "Foo is the most narcissistic, reckless, careening, primal personality ever to crash the civilized sanctuary of my CBC Radio studio. We bonded,and Gold Bond had nothing to do with it." - CBC Radio, Here And Now “She’s a clown more in the mould of a mad poet, with a dash of Zen...a sprinkle of Jungian archetypes and a seltzer spray of theatre of the absurd.” - The Hamilton Spectator “With Donnelly, we're in the hands of a rubber-limbed and -faced clown who knows her stuff – how long to milk a moment, how to touch her viewers' feelings and how to play off that audience, even build on its laughs.” - NOW Magazine
ABOUT SAUCISSE: A FOO MUSICAL "Working with director Susanna Hamnett, Donnelly knows how to charm us with physical and verbal humour. SAUCISSE is a strong vehicle for Donnelly, an entertaining show that entices the audience into Foo's vivid world." - NOW Magazine "Foo lands onstage like a startled traveller from another universe, immediately conveying an aura of toughness, vulnerability, and loneliness. It’s a testament to Donnelly’s presence and performance that a bit of sand, a bunch of twigs (for a wee fire under the stars), and a postmodern cube with a large photo of a shiny rock on one side can be transformed into an entire western landscape—empty to the horizons, huge, unknown, and wanderable. Donnelly’s Foo is tantalizingly mysterious. I wonder, not for the first time, what a clown is. A manifestation of the Id? Our emotional selves revealed in all our weak, alone, strong, inelegant, charming, desperation to be loved? The magic heart at the centre of Saucisse discovers itself to us: Saucisse is a buffon love story, the anti-romance between Foo and the sensitive little creature Foo rescues from the prairie. Their friendship is breathtakingly developed. Donnelly gets the audience’s hearts breaking for her puppet, and laughing out loud... Viv Moore’s choreography indelibly creates joy, clown stumbles, kicks and diagonal struts that enlarge and deepen Foo’s language of frustration, energy, and exploration. The sound, including pre-recorded accompaniment for the musical’s songs, is vibrant and a strong part of the play’s texture. The lighting creates days and nights, and spots of warmth and aloneness, subtly and supportively. Saucisse is an evanscent, solid, peculiar and engaging experience. Donnelly’s clown is dark, but playful, and makes us laugh and think. The play is soaked in symbology that is at once light (we don’t need to think about it to enjoy the play) and intense: modern life as barren wasteland, within which love provides hope and warmth; the dailiness that Donnelly conveys so well, our struggles to get by; the powerful voices of authority, or conscience, or god, or all three combined, shouting down at us, even we, or Foo, do our best. And we are all meat, in a strange way, as Saucisse is; so as the audience laughs and has heartleaps as Foo finally tracks down Saucisse, it is all so true, and sad. Yet so humanly funny." -CIUT Radio 'EviDANCE' review by Beverley Daurio "Helen Donnelly has created a beautiful solo clown show, exhibiting the best elements oftheatrical clowning and any written description cannot adequately describe the experience of being there. All of it makes sense: the language, the look, the music. I still don't think I've done justice to the effect this show had on me. It was simply top-notch. I loved it from start to finish." -NY Clown Theatre Festival Nina (official blog of the festival) " Written, produced and performed by the amazing Helen Donnelly, this is an outlandish, lovely clown show. It’s also very twisted. The style of Saucisse is that of a wild-western fireside tale with a dark, even dystopian twist. Donnelly is a wildly energetic performer and keeps the audience cackling throughout the show, a difficult task for a single performer spreading their energy over multiple roles. Saucisse is strangely eloquent. The narrative is clear, the dialogue has precise direction, and the singing is absolutely beautiful. Donnelly throws her voice from a grumbling bass to operatic heights, and she is a delight to listen to. Saucisse is a ridiculous, hilarious show, but it also goes to dark places. Not only is the audience thoroughly entertained, but they’re free to interpret, and make up their own ending. And maybe be a little terrified." -FAB Magazine "With humour and humility, seventy-five minutes and a pig puppet, Helen Donnelly one-ups just about any other comedy staged in Toronto this year. Saucisse, playing at the Pia Bouman Scotiabank Theatre, explores friendship, fate and the pursuit of happiness; it manages, even, to lampoon the perversions of authority to which human beings are so disastrously prone. All this while delivering expertly timed comedy, merciless caricature, six professionally orchestrated musical numbers and a botany lesson. Saucisse stars Helen Donnelly, multitalented veteran of Cirque du Soleil. What makes this play almost magical – what makes missing it unforgivable – is its seemingly impossible marriage of the universal and the utterly unique. Everything about Saucisse – its production, its props, its set design and orchestration – is strikingly original. But Saucisse taps into something we all feel, a sense of longing, fear and hope so primal it defies language. Donnelly has the warm heart and icy blood of a master playwright, pulling you into her embrace only to get a better shot at your jugular. Every element in the play is perfectly placed, and it’s hard not to admire her sense of narrative and timing as she finally decides to let the whole thing fall apart." -MOONEY ON THEATRE "Helen Donnelly is a gem of a performer and her new show is no less magnificent. Warm, magical and hysterically funny, Saucisse achieved greatness in its wild offering of imagination, virtuosity and excitement. It was a privilege to have seen Helen's craft hard at work on stage. With every word, song, and step, Helen exudes an enormous love for her audience. She takes great care of us, and we, in turn, wholeheartedly return this love." -Adam Lazarus, co-producer, Toronto Festival of Clowns ABOUT POSEY'S WIG “Posey’s Wig, a clown gibberish musical, is written, produced and performed by Helen Donnelly. Set backstage and onstage at the Tubegosh Opera House in 1906, Posey’s Wig is a tour-de-force of physical comedy on the part of Donnelly, supported by her opera quality voice, as she shares her feelings with the audience. Slipping between the characters of the operetta star, Miss Posey and her repressed maid, Mildred, babbling and singing in her unique gibberish, Donnelly was the highlight of the festival.” - View Magazine “Saw the final performance of Helen Donnelly’s Posey’s Wig, a show we reviewed… in 2005. It’s wonderful to see how this Cinderella tale of a mistreated maid who gets revenge on her nasty opera singer employer has blossomed. Billed as a clown gibberish musical, it’s richer visually…But it’s Donnelly who really shines, with sharper satire, brighter characters and a delightfully wicked way of handling disruptive latecomers….And on top of her comic skills, Donnelly has a great singing voice.” - NOW Magazine