The CLWS 8th Grade Class of 2021 Presents: The Clowndemics!

A CLWS 8th grade student poses with his clown nose on

What if you woke up one day and felt like something just wasn’t right? You look in the mirror and suddenly you realize…you’ve become a red-nosed clown! What if you couldn’t stop laughing? What if you saw the world with new eyes, full of wonder and amazement? What if you basked in the infinite possibilities of foolishness? And what if, by some small miracle, you suddenly possessed super circus powers?

Don’t Miss The Clowndemics!

Since we weren’t able to host our annual in-person Circus at the Music Box Theatre due to COVID-19, our talented and creative 8th Grade Class of 2021, along with Movement and Circus Arts Teacher Jason Burnstein, created a documentary, instead—a heartwarming, awe-inspiring, truly joyful and touching tribute to this remarkable year, and the magic that can happen when we connect and work together.
Click here to watch

Fun Facts and Gratitude

At the World Premiere screening of The Clowndemics at The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis (special thanks to Ward and Maggie Johnson!), Mr. Burnstein shared a few notable bits of information about the making of the film, highlighting the hard work, creativity, and determination of our 8th grade students:

  1. This film was created in the middle of a pandemic (an obvious fact, but easily overlooked). There were many obstacles to work around, from people needing to miss school to get tested, to our block rotation style of teaching, etc.
  2. The idea for the premise of the film, that there is a “clowndemic,” came entirely from the 8th grade students, in the fall. They even coined the term, “clowndemic.”
  3. We began working on the film in earnest when the class was in full Distance Learning in January and February. Assignments were given over Google Classroom to create their own characters, and then submit videos to me.
  4. We had just one block—about one month—to develop skills, create acts, further develop characters and the throughline of the story, film all the various scenes and interviews, etc.
  5. We had just two days in the theater to rehearse and film every act and EVERY backstage scene.
  6. What I originally thought was going to be a short, 30-minute film, turned into a 67 minute mockumentary. And the students themselves wrote or mostly improvised almost all the lines in the film. One incredible class of 14 year olds, who were especially lucky to have a dear friend and classmate (Karu Thompson) who happened to love filmmaking, shared his cameras, captured footage, helped with editing, and played a leading role in the film.

Extra Special Thanks to Street Factory Media for help with filming the live performances and to Russell Harris for his additional coaching. Also to Pablo Jones for mentoring me and helping me solve endless technical issues. Such gratitude for my “right-hand man” Mr. Benjamin Domask-Ruh, who had faith that we could pull this off, supported me in endless ways, and shared his juggling expertise with the students. And finally to our Director of Photography, and co-editor, 8th grade graduate Karu Thompson. We couldn’t have done it without you, Karu. Thanks for making all of us look so good!

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