Friday, 27 November 2015

Monday Clown Workshops

Quite a few people have been asking me recently what the clown workshops held every Monday are all about (including some people who come regularly).

There are two main aims as far as I am concerned (participants might have other aims, of course). One aim is to work continuously on a better understanding in practice of what makes clowning happen. As the years have passed, I have more and more come to the conclusion that it’s all rather simple. So simple, in fact, that it’s easier to clown than it is not to clown (people often say comedy and clowning is so difficult, but maybe they’re wrong). You just have to create the right conditions. So that’s what I hope to do in a workshop: set up the best possible conditions for participants to clown, and, crucially, to understand how it works. Increasingly, then, I’ve preferred to whittle down what used to be a whole mountain of games and exercises into two or three fundamental forms, which can help you access the dynamics of clowning as directly as possible. And those forms, or dynamics, are derived in turn from the basic premise of clowning, which is to be the object of laughter for others.

My second aim comes from the fact that it’s all very well experiencing clowning in a workshop situation, where the teacher sets up the frame and conditions, but quite another matter when you come to perform in front of audiences out there in the world. Learning the dynamics of clowning won’t be enough. Something else is required. Other kind of comic performers habitually spend a lot of time and effort on ‘material’. Stand-up comedians worry over joke structure, sketch comedians search for strong premises for their ideas. Why should clowns be different? Popular misconceptions suppose that clowns just get up there and are funny just by being true to their inner selves. But looking inside yourself won’t really save you. There are countless practical ways of devising material appropriate for your clowning. Awareness of and understanding of these is far preferable to just hoping the clown you ‘found’ will survive the real stage situation. These forms and structures of clown material also derive from simple notions of what clowns actually do. At the moment, my favourite terms for what clowns do are ‘wrongness’, the ‘unthinkable’, the ‘unexpected’ and the ‘obvious’.

This workshop is ongoing, drop in, continuous, unending - basically every Monday - so you can come regularly or occasionally or just once. It works for different kinds of people: you might be just starting clowning; you might want to reinforce your understanding of clowning, or get back to it after a time away; you might want to start performing in public; or revisit your material and improve it or change it.

Time: Mondays 6.30 – 8.30pm
Venue: Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London E2 9EG
Cost: Single class £15; or £50 for four classes paid in advance; or £60 for five classes paid in advance; or £110 for ten classes paid in advance

Jon Davison 

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