The Rockwell Hosts Clowns Without Borders Benefit

Clowns Without BordersLeah Abel performed with Clowns Without Borders in Palestine in 2013. Photo courtesy of Naomi Shafer.

Clowns are coming to The Rockwell this weekendbut not the kind you should be afraid of.

Local performers including clowns, acrobats, aerialists, and jugglers will team up for a benefit show on Oct. 8 to support Clowns Without Borders, an organization that travels to regions in crisis to provide relief through shows and workshops.

Clowns Without Borders member Leah Abelwho has traveled to Haiti, Palestine, and a detention center in Texas with the group—explains that people living in war zones or refugee camps often don’t have much access to entertainment.

“When you come home from a hard day at work or you are having some sort of overwhelming time in your life and you need some sort of relief, in our society we often turn to television or hanging out with friends. Those are things that we rely on to help with our mental health,” Abel says. “When people are in very dire situations, that’s less accessible. That’s not to say any of us think they’re incapable of making their own fun or anything, but they’re focused on having enough food or having enough water or their safety. What we do is we try to provide some relief and entertainment, a distraction.”

Clowns Without Borders performances may not match most Americans’ conceptions of clowns, according to Abel. The group practices a more “pedestrian style”sometimes the clowns wear red noses, sometimes they don’t—and their work could be described as “physical theater,” she says.

Abel lives in Watertown and is the co-founder of Circus Up. Her next trip with the organization is to Lebanon, where the clowns will put on shows for Syrian refugees.

She’s the emcee at this Sunday’s show, the second annual Boston-area benefit for Clowns Without Borders. Fellow Clowns Without Borders participant Alex Feldman—who’s been on “America’s Got Talent”—will perform, alongside Cirque du Soleil clown Kenny Raskin and acrobats Jacqueline Judith and Robin Gopal.

The benefit show is Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased here.

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