For the past three weekends I attended a FABULOUS clown workshop as taught by the equally fabulous Jane Nichols. Did I mention it was fabulous?
Imagine spending 8 hours Saturday and Sunday sitting in a studio LAUGHING. That’s basically what we did. Laugh. Sure, sometimes we weren’t, but most times we were.
Clown asks of the performer generosity of spirit and of play. And it takes a helluva lot of guts to get up there in front of people and try to make them laugh.
And our group had a lot of guts. No one gave up, and sometimes, Jane would keep someone up there for 15 minutes…letting them swing in the wind.
Because in failure comes great ideas. It may not feel like it, it may feel like you haven’t found anything…but…some little wiggly idea comes out. Maybe it’s how someone turn their head. Or a little silly physical joke. Something. All of us failed to get laughs…but something would always spark a little giggle. And a giggle is a beginning.
Clown, to me, is play. Playing free, with abandon, and for US, the audience. One needs imagination, a willingness to reveal that playful side, and lots of energy. Even standing there in your clown character takes energy…you have to be ready to jump…metaphorically and really, at a moments notice.
Everyday we started playing these real complicated games…like tag. And I sorta mean that…for some reason these simple games at the beginning would seem complicated to us adults. But, finally, we would settle into the game and then play hard to win.
Sweating, we would begin with more play…simple entrances, tricks…I brought in my yo-yo, and Jane from the audience would play, ask questions, tease, provoke…And it was fantastic fun to watch.
(I haven’t written a blog in ages, it seems, and I’m trying to get back into the habit, so forgive my poor writing skills…I’m not going to blame it on me, but the time of day…DAMN YOU 9:28!…and the coffee…DAMN YOU COFFEE!)
Anyway…the whole thing ended with performing in front of an invited audience. Without any sort of rehearsal…just things pulled from exercises and improvs. It was scary, intense, and a tremendous amount of fun.
Why, Larry, why did you take this incredibly fun class? Well…internet, I took the class because I’ve been talking about performing again, getting back out there and in front of an audience. I’ve always liked this kind of work and I get such a kick in the (big) pants from it.
Maybe next time I’ll write better about clown…but it’s tough for me…clown…and not the stupid birthday party clown…is a sort of mystical intangible creature for me…it is or it isn’t.
And I’ll write more soon…