We tend to think of clown as the painted faced character which has come down to us from the circus tradition of the last two hundred years. However clown is possibly the oldest art form, occurring in every society throughout the ages, and it is an art form which has been undergoing a renaissance and a rejuvenation over the past few years.
Modern clown is less character based and more interactive than traditional clown, it is less about hiding behind make-up and more about revealing our true selves, and less about routine based entertainment and more about spontaneous artistic expression. We need training and tools to facilitate these new skills in our work, and the students coming out of the 2012 Clown Summer School prove that it gives participants a way of working which supports this process.
Playspace director Alan Clay is currently working on his clown film Courting Chaos and is taking a break from teaching. He reccomends that you check out his book Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User Guide which includes 50 practical clown exercises, many of which can be done individually.
If you would like to be kept informed of future Clown Summer School dates, email us:
clown (at) artmedia.com.au
'Modern Clown' Summer School, (15 work days) 10am - 4pm each day
Reconnect with the playful, inquisitive, cheeky, clown spirit in a centrally heated studio space with adjoining dormitory accommodation, overlooking the mouth of the Wanganui river. This is a new course led by Alan Clay at his retreat centre in New Zealand.
Each day will start with a yoga warm up and participants will work physically to free themselves from patterns and to connect with their emotions.
Street theatre has informed and assisted the development of modern clown, and participants will take exercises from the studio and work at street-cafe's to develop interactive audience skills. It's easy and fun.
Clown is empathic, 'feeling with' the audience, and it is also playful, open to the impulses in each moment, and this workshop will train and develop these skills through improvisation exercises.
Video will be used as a feedback tool and by the end of the third week students will develop shows and performance material suitable for both indoor and street environments.
The summer school is aimed at those with a professional interest in clown. It is suitable both for beginners and for those with experience, and it functions best with this mix in the class. There will be a minimum of four and maximum of eight on the workshop.
The residential nature of the summer school provides a relaxed atmosphere and secluded environment which means that students get more out of the contact hours and can also process and discuss the work outside of the class.
Note: There will be no traditional clown skills taught in this workshop, no character technique, no balloon modeling, no circus skills and no makeup technique. Juggling and other circus skills are encouraged as a warm-up and out-of-class activity.
Participants will have the weekends free and the studio will be available for individual work. The studio is within reach of breathtaking west coast beaches, bush walks and jet boat or canoe expeditions, but still handy to good coffee and all facilities.
"In the best clown tradition Alan held up a window-mirror for us to step through and reflect on the patterns, habits and rituals of our days... It was funny, moving and excellent theatre." NZ Herald.
The 'modern clown' summer school is led by Alan Clay. Alan has been performing for thirty seven years and teaching clown for over thirty four years. He is the author of Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User Guide, which is now a required text in clown courses at US and UK universities and is in use in the drama departments of over 200 high schools in New Zealand, Australia and the US.
"For me the key to clown is playfulness. We can all play, although we often loose the ability as we get older. If we are lucky, we replace it with exploration, but where play is directed to the joy of the activity itself, exploration involves mapping out possibilities. As we advance with our theatre practice, our successful patterns often trap us into not taking risks and therefore not growing in our work."
"When I developed my five day workshops, my aim was to provide students with a series of tools, which they could use in performance situations, thereby empowering them to explore the art form through working in front of an audience. In my new 3-week summer school I will give students more opportunity to practice those skills, so they become more second nature."
"In the best clown tradition Alan held up a window-mirror for us to step through and reflect on the patterns, habits and rituals of our days. It was funny, moving and excellent theatre." NZ Herald
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