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FACES OF TWIN CITIES THEATRE: Mime, Juggler, Clown, Musician Benjamin Domask-Ruh

Mime, juggler, clown, and musician Benjamin Domask-Ruh.

How do you describe the theatre work that you do?

The theatre work I do is multi-disciplinary spanning juggling, clown, mime, and music. I bring my full attention and presence as a human being to the stage. Through these, I focus on circus’ and theatre’s ability to bring people together and to create memories.

Where and how did you train for what you do today?

I trained through many different avenues. First I trained as a psychologist at university (UW – Eau Claire). Then I trained ‘on-the-job’ at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival as a stage performer. The audience was quick to teach me what I was doing wrong! Then I trained through may hours of self-taught trial and error.

Simultaneously, I was taking private dance classes (ballet under Sylvia Schourek), attending Mime School (The White Church Theatre Project under Steve Wasson and Corinne Soum) and training with different clown and theatre teachers. (Robert Rosen, Jon Ferguson, Audrey Crabtree, to name a few.)

I am still training everyday as I am still working towards the freedom onstage to find those expressive moments through unconscious competence that comes with mastery of skills!

Benjamin Domask-Ruh balances a peacock feather for a trick. Photo by Dan Norman.

What are 3 words that describe you as an artist?

Adaptable, melancholic, joyful.

What’s the last performance that you were in/worked on/wrote/etc?

Dead + Alive presented by One Year Lease in New York at the Connelly Theater.

How did you become involved in theatre?

After being inspired by the theatre students at university and being lucky enough to perform with two of them at the renaissance festival, the ideas of performer and audience were at the forefront of my mind everyday. Learning to connect and interact with an audience in a room together, creating those moments of emotion together keep me feeling alive and part of something larger than myself. It gives me hope for the future and gives me a sense of belonging in the universe.

What does theatre mean to you?

Theatre is connection. Theatre is healing. Theatre is also damaging in a way that opens us up to growth through empathy.

Multi-disciplinary artist Benjamin Domask-Ruh. Photo by Isabel Fajardo.

Tell us about a favorite experience in the performing arts. Why was it meaningful?

One most recent experience is during a circus performance: I have a routine that involves bringing an audience member up on stage to participate as a helpful assistant. I go into the audience to pick a volunteer. I am heading towards a person. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I notice someone wearing a tuxedo t-shirt. They are perfect! I start to bring them up. They are so reluctant but willing. Once onstage, they realized the game was simply to play. And how easy the game was! And how I wasn’t there to make fun of them, but to make them the hero.

It was the MOST fun I’ve had on stage in a long time. After the show, they track me down and made sure to come up to me to also let me know just how much they enjoyed being a part of the show.

Seeing their demeanor shift reminds me the power and responsibility of being a performer.

Tell us about someone who had a profound impact on you as the artist that you are today.

Too many people to choose! Should it be my mime teacher that reminded me I am in control of my body? My mentor who pushed me to the limitless power of empathy? My show partner who dragged me through thick and thin of the industry and how to be professional yet still humble, down to earth, and connected?

What is an upcoming performance that excites you, with which you are NOT involved?

I am so excited to get to go to the International Jugglers’ Association Festival this year. Last year, I was co-director. This year, I get to join in the fun as an attendee and see all the amazing performers during the final ‘Cascade of Stars’ showcase.

Benjamin Domask-Ruh…in a bathtub. As one does. Photo by Bob Alberti.

What’s up next for you, creatively?

In the month of June I get to revisit my solo show, HODGE PODGE, as I rework it in preparation to perform at the Chicago Physical Theater Festival (July 8-16th.)

Follow x Online

Instagram – @domaskbz

Twin Cities Arts Reader