Jackie Newton moved to the Lake of the Ozarks in 1983 and clowning became a huge part of her life in 1994.
Jackie Newton moved to the Lake of the Ozarks in 1983 and clowning became a huge part of her life in 1994. For years, she traveled miles to perform, train, teach and laugh. Her clown family grew over the years in the Ozarks. She worked with some of the best clowns in her own backyard, but one of her dreams was to travel the world and experience theater and clowning and to spread universal laughter. Newton wanted to meet people from all walks of life and gather a sense of others different than herself, and yet, the same.
As a member of the World Clown Association, Clowns International and Clowns of America International, she had the honor of becoming part of a universal clown family. Coming from all walks of life, after a long day of work, energy can still be found for the nose, the big shoes and the silly dance. For years, she watched gatherings of clowns around the world and drooled at the thought of hearing childrens’ laughter in all languages and dialects.
One of her great friends is the World Clown Association’s president from Lowestoft, England, Andy Davis. She says his character, his heart and his humor delight people from around the globe. He continued a tradition of the “gathering” of world clowns in his small village in the far eastern point of England several years ago. While the news stations were calling her group a convention, it was truly a gathering of theatrical talents from everywhere.
She says she cannot describe her experience as a convention at all. The CGUK, Clown Gathering of the UK was truly magic. The gathering is also conveniently placed during the time period of the Joey Grimaldi Celebration in London. For seventy-five years, the father of clowning is honored in a church celebration in London. She says that London takes this celebration very seriously. They were actually prepared before the celebration and given tips on the numerous paparazzi that would attend. Newton did not take this very seriously until she was whisked away by photographers and videographers from dozens of papers, news stations and magazines.
Newton’s cousin, Dolly Dimples, and her travel together. Newton pulled her into this world and she came willingly. They decided that if they were to travel all the way across the pond, they had better experience everything we could in a three-week period. Their three-hour drive to St. Louis and getting their beautiful costumes from her mother’s talented hands brought them closer to the six-hour drive to her aunt in Chicago and to their trip abroad.
From Chicago, they hopped a plane to Denmark and continued on to London. They ate pastries, toured the Louvre and Versailles. They continued walking the streets as Sparkie and Dolly Dimples, gathering several onlookers throughout the day. She says they knew about three words of French, but it didn’t seem to matter; clowns are universal.
They traveled back to London for the clowning day of “our lives.” She says she teared up several times as she got caught in the whirlwind of global laughter and fun during the Grimaldi Celebration. Clowns from everywhere, beautiful English, Irish and Scottish dialects filled her ears and silly universal laughter warmed her heart. Because of her mother’s talents as a seamstress, it was obvious to all that they were American and got a great kick out of ”You’re from America! Please come talk to us!” She says she had never been interviewed or photographed so much in her life.
She moved on from there to Lowestoft, England for a week along the North Sea. She rode in a one ton van from antique days and enjoyed the antics of their juggling/unicycle driver, Jonathon Jester. After a few jump starts, both ways, they made it to their destination. Packed in like sardines, with the craziest props in the world, they made it to experience the clowning and theater of a lifetime.
Newton had long conversations with the amazing funny man Freddie Davies who came to speak to about his antics with greats like Jerry Lewis and the old-time stage shows and films. She says she was swept into the hauntingly beautiful sounds of clown fiddler Paul Southcott, and the great face of Hagrid, the larger than life Eek.
Newton met truly moving actors like Simon/Clown Noir and the aerialist, the amazing Pip. The whirlwind continued on to two fabulous performances in the tiny Seagull Theater along the shores of the North Sea in a show dubbed as The Wrong Side of the Pier.
One of the highlights of her journey was interacting with the during intermission and their enthusiasm for the antics of the clowns.
As with all things, the trip had to come to an end but the memories will last a lifetime.