Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eccentric Clown Principles

In my ongoing search for and development of trickster pedagogy, i have just come across Avner the Eccentric's "Eccentric Clown Principles" which i found through Mady Schutzman's site: Jokers Run Wild and which includes some of her writing on Guru Clown (the site is a bit tricky to navigate and i recommend using the site index). However, these principles are relevant to more than clowning. One aspect of trickster pedagogy that i am working on articulating more fully has to do with the ways in which we perform knowledge. And as a performing storyteller and an active facilitator of workshops and classes and sundry meetings, i have come to believe that the performative moment in learning/teaching (as well as any sharing of knowledge we have that we wish to convey) is key. What occupies my passions most, however, is how we can teach/learn this. Teaching the "tricks of the trade" is easy compared to teaching people how to be in the work. And i feel strongly that we can do more than simply advise (sagely? when really we are simply unsure?) that it will come with experience. I guess my hypothesis is that within the traditions of trickster pedagogy is to be found the means by which we can teach/learn the necessary dispositions of performing knowledge that are emancipatory, that resist oppression, that celebrate love and compassion, that acknowledge sorrow and loss, that communicate joy. These Eccentric Clown Principles are profound challenges to how we comport ourselves in the work:
  1. Clown’s job is to make the audience feel things, and to get the audience to breathe.
  2. Everyone inhales, but many of us need to be reminded to exhale.
  3. The imagination and the brain are connected to and affect the body. Any change in the mind has a corresponding change in the body. Any change in the body (i.e. in the breath first) has a corresponding change in the mind.
  4. Don’t tell or show the audience what to think, do, or feel.
  5. Don’t tell or show your partners what to think, do, or feel. Don’t point.
  6. Weight belongs on the underside. Keep a single point in you lower abdomen. Keep your energy flowing.
  7. Tension is your enemy. It produces emotional, mental and physical numbness.
  8. How you feel about your performance is what counts, not whether it is in reality good or bad.
  9. The clown discovers an audience who are sitting in rows and looking at an empty space and waiting for a show. This must be dealt with first, by establishing complicity with the audience.
  10. The clown creates a world in the empty space, rather than entering into a world that already exists (sketch).
  11. Use mime to create fantasy, not to re-create reality.
  12. The clown searches to create a game and to define the rules, which then must be obeyed.
  13. Don’t ask or tell the audience how they feel or think. Have an emotional experience and invite the audience to join in your reaction.
  14. Be interested, not interesting.
  15. Everyone must to breathe all one’s life, even when on stage.
  16. The clown enters the stage to do a job, not to get laughs. If there are laughs, it is an interruption that must be dealt with.
(One note of caution on The Jokers Run Wild site: some of the links don't work because they insist on inserting "" before the actual website you want. Simply delete this string from the url.)

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