This year (2019), we had the pleasure of collaborating with House of Peace (Dar el Salam) on a project called Art of Being, in which 20 men and women of different backgrounds and nationalities from around Lebanon went through a year-long arts-based training program relating to children’s rights. The participants got to decide what three mediums or approach they wanted to focus on to receive more in-depth training to create awareness campaigns and initiatives around different themes that interest them.
And that’s where we come in! Those who wanted to learn more about the art of clowning received training with none other than our Clown-In-Chief, Sabine Choucair– with some of our other clowns jumping in too– to learn how to use clowning to communicate important issues.
Nine of the twenty participants began their training to find their inner clowns, as well as proposing the themes they wanted to tackle. They worked to conceptualize and create a half-hour show around the themes of education, hygiene, and bullying. This show toured in five different locations: Padova in Sin El Fil, Madraset Dammeh in Ghazze, Dar el Aytam and in the village of Bodai in Baalbak.
Besides learning to communicate these topics in a new way, our new-found clowns also learned a lot about themselves and how to overcome many of their own personal obstacles. A lot of them expressed how they learned to feel comfortable in their own skin, especially in front of a crowd. Fears or anxieties about speaking in front of an audience, letting loose, and even putting on the red nose slowly melted away as the new clowns came to terms with their insecurities and actually used them to their advantage.
The Art of Being clowns were happy and surprised to learn that it wasn’t just kids who enjoyed their performances. Residents of Bodai told them that they had only ever seen clowns on TV, so they were absolutely thrilled when they found out that they were getting a live performance in their town.
Some of the clowns enjoyed the experience so much that they’re still performing as clowns for children on their own, and even giving beginner workshops for the youth. That’s one of the things we love most about what we do: instilling the same love for this art in people, who in turn pass it on to others! It’s kind of like a virus, really. Symptoms may include uncontrollable laughter and extreme silliness.