By Jennifer Luck, Director of Education and Outreach
Tomáš Kubínek is an interesting fellow and if you were the kind who analyzes such things you would say his act is pretty simple. He merely partners short works of physical comedy, with magical slights of hand, contortionism, and audience participation, but the result is an absolutely delightful evening of classic vaudevillian entertainment. Billed as a Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible, the one and only Dr. Professor Tomáš Kubínek is a comic genius, virtuoso vaudevillian, and all-round charmer who gives audiences an utterly joyous experience they’ll remember for a lifetime. Something super unique and different!
Tomáš Kubínek was born in Prague. At the age of 3, he was smuggled out of the country by his parents to escape the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. After two months in a refugee camp in Austria, the Kubínek family was granted asylum in Canada. It was there that Tomáš witnessed his first circus. He became passionately interested in clowns, circus, theater, and magic. He has appeared in over 30 countries in theaters, opera houses, international festivals of theatre and humor, in television specials, and on Broadway.
But on Wednesday, March 28th – one day before he played the Paramount Theatre for the first time – Tomáš proved himself to be much more than just a clown when he offered to give an intimate, private performance for the girls and residents of the Settlement Home in North Central Austin. The Settlement Home for Children works with youth who are in the foster care system. It is a treatment center for girls and they also have their own Foster & Adoption program. Their on-site treatment center works with girls age 12-20 and their foster family program works with boys and girls 0-18. On Wednesday night Tomáš performed for over 30 teenaged girls, on site, and gave them an experience that many of them rarely ever have.
While the Settlement Home is part of the Paramount’s Access to the Arts program, a program that invites young members of Austin Non-profits to the theatre free of charge, the home isn’t always able to take the theatre up on offers for free tickets because of the logistics of getting so many girls downtown in the evenings or a myriad of other reasons. Pippa Peart, the Program Support Coordinator at the Settlement Home, told us that having time to be together, laughing and being silly is such a special opportunity for their girls. She was incredibly grateful that the Paramount was able to bring Tomáš on site so that a good number of their girls would have the opportunity to see the performance; and quite frankly, so that they could have a laugh. With so many of their residents in the foster care system, sometimes a simple laugh can go a long way.
Tomáš did a portion of his full length show at the Settlement Home, but also treated the girls to some special moments that weren’t in the evening performance. What made the experience really special was Tomáš taking almost 20-30 minutes after his performance to field questions from the girls that raged anywhere from: What famous people have you met and where have you traveled to? To specifics about his “tricks” and how he maintains his body so it is flexible enough to do some of the physical bits he does in his show. (Apparently, he fills his bathtub with vinegar every night and gives himself a good soak. Or maybe he just stretches, eats well and was born skinny. You guess which one is the real answer!) Frankly, he would have continued to answer questions all night long if the girls’ curfew hadn’t come upon us.
While the touring schedules of many Paramount acts keeps them from being able to offer such amazing gestures of community engagement and outreach, the theatre is always trying to find ways of bringing young people closer to the artists, especially those young people who would never have these opportunities if the Paramount wasn’t able to create them. It is our goal to facilitate more of these moments every season, and hopefully in turn, creating lasting memories for some of the amazing young people in our community.
Jennifer Luck, Education & Outreach Director with the Paramount Theatre gives a huge thank you to Tomáš Kubínek for his special performance at the Settlement Home.
For more info about Tomáš Kubínek check out: www.kubinek.com
For more info about The Settlement Home check out: www.settlementhome.org