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Weekend Workshops

Clowning #1: Clown Dynamics

 

19th-20th August 2023

Venue: Bold Elephant, 21 St.George’s Road, London SE1 6ES

Cost: £130 

Time: 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday

To book your place, email  info@jondavison.net for details on how to enrol

Maximum: 18 participants per workshop

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Clowning #1 - Clown Dynamics

“How do I get into the mood for clowning? How do I get over not being funny?”

 

This workshop dives into the dynamics of clowning, when we present ourselves as ridiculous for each other’s own amusement, and when we laugh (or don’t laugh) at each other.

 

What is the relation between this in-the-moment interaction between clowns/spectators and the content we create for performance?

 

The week is aimed at all students, teachers, and practitioners of the performing arts whether or not you specialise in clowning.

 

Our explorations will be concerned with laughter, and the unique relationship the clown performer has with it - when it is present and when it is absent. But it is not concerned directly with the question of HOW to be funny. Nor is it concerned with the question of WHY something is funny. These are not inane questions but they are dealt with amply by others elsewhere.

 

Laughter is the fulcrum upon which clowning balances. Laughter does amazing things to us, physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. Whilst we are immersed in it, it seems to relieve us of the burdens of norms, expectations and even meaning itself. What a relief!

 

But it is never under our control. To pursue such domination is a pointless task. But neither is it advisable to discard it, out of fear of not attaining it. Clowns who MUST be funny and clowns who DON’T HAVE to be funny are a turn off.

 

When you really look, most things are ridiculous: our bodies, our movements, our ideas, our emotions, our words, our relationships, the universe. We don’t need to change ourselves, just look at everything from another perspective. It’s a human thing to do, so anyone can do it.

 

The exercises we will use are my ongoing explorations to condense the training into the simplest and most accessible form I can. My concern has always been to simplify. Clowning is sometimes spoken about in mysterious tones, with allusions to depths of meaning. Those may be valid conclusions to draw. But they don’t, in my experience, serve as starting points on the journey. We cannot aim directly for such grandiose or abstract goals.

 

The exercises might sometimes seem so simple as to appear mechanical. By focusing on the simple tasks, we can become more aware of our responses on all levels. Simple meditation techniques work in a similar way. Furthermore, these emotions, sensations and thoughts will make up much of the content of a clown performance, in the absence of an authored, fictional character or narrative (and I am mostly interested in clowning as inhabiting this ‘fiction-less’ world). Once we start to come to grips with this material, we can see how clowns can create many different kinds of dynamic relationships between themselves, and between themselves and the public.

 

We will experiment with how you, as a performer, respond to that response from the onlooker. How do you behave, feel or think when the spectator laughs, or does not laugh? Indeed, how do you behave, feel or think upon the mere appearing in front of that audience whose expectations are already formed? Such self-explorations are at the heart of any genre of performance. Focusing on how you, as a performer, respond to your own presence in front of a responding audience, can enrich your work in whatever direction, style or genre you choose, and enable a coming to terms with some of the common struggles that many performers will face throughout their careers.

 

This workshop is suitable for anyone interested in clowning, whatever your experience. Clowning is something many of have done throughout our lives in informal or social situations, and our experiences will differ widely according to our backgrounds, cultures, and identities. We already know a lot about clowning before we ever set foot in a class or on a stage. All of this knowledge is welcomed into the workshop, without the need for aesthetic unity or discipline.

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