Clown Me In in NEW YORK

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On Wednesday August 29th, Sabine Choucair was part of an evening of open sharing and discussion about the #Clown and its political, social and healing power along with Giovanni Fusetti.

Sabine Choucair, from Clown Me In – Lebanon, showcased the work she and her team are doing with refugees and disadvantage communities in the Middle East and Europe. And to discuss more how, as artists, we can make a positive difference through our work. She is the proud co-founder of the IIVVSS ( international institute of very very serious studies)

Wednesday, August 29th, at 7.30pm
Boulder Circus Center
4747 26th St, Boulder, CO 80301

These are some of the themes that we will be exploring.

The Hero and the Fool: how tragedy and comedy dance together.
What is the politics of the Fool?
Laughter is a human right. And so is Play, Joy and Humour.
What is the role of Clowns in areas of humanitarian crisis?
What is the difference between performing as clowns and touring to different communities vs using it as tool to find stories and spend more time with people?
Storytelling, trauma and the resilience of the heart.
How we as a community can take our work further?

Donations are very welcome and will fund the work of Clown Me In-Lebanon.

Healthcare Clowning International Meeting

400 clowns from 50 different countries and 150 healthcare clown organisations gathered in Vienna for the very first Healthcare Clowning International Meeting hosted by Red Noses, and Sabine was one of them!

She was invited to give a workshop passing on methods she has used in Lebanon and elsewhere when working with refugees and disadvantaged communities. She led her workshop ‘We must clown: different artistic formats to engage with refugees’ on the first day of the conference for a group of 20.

Together they had a lot fun, playing games and engaging in focused exercises but they also talked about the use of clowning in crisis zones. They listened to stories recorded from children during The Caravan projects to help to contextualise the work that we do at Clown Me In and discussed the techniques we use.

“The conference was an incredible experience, all these awesome clowns gathered together in one space in a frenzy of silliness, laughter and practical jokes all in the context of a huge learning experience. It was fantastic to hear from so many very accomplished clowns working in healthcare clowning, leading fascinating and eye opening conversations about our form of art and performance, it’s techniques and effects.” – Sabine

Upon her return Sabine exclaimed that it was definitely one of the most fun conferences she had ever been to, and honestly who can blame her? An auditorium full of 400 clowns? Who wouldn’t want to be there!

Clown Protest

As clowns we tend not to be too dramatic about things, so when we cry or make a fuss you KNOW it’s for a good reason. Back in February we joined a protest (I know, I know, February was a long time ago – but we’ve been in mourning!) to express our extreme distress at the government’s solution to our ongoing trash crisis: to build an incinerator for Beirut! Apparently it’s not enough that our sea is drowning in trash, that our landscape is littered with plastic, that our food has become poisonous and that the air is filled with the exhausts of a million cars. Apparently now we must inhale the fumes of all the trash piled up and burning in our very own incinerator!

So we joined the demonstration, protesting in the only way we know to be effective: with a good dose of humour. We arrived with a goal and determination to break the Guinness World Record for the longest noose of trash. On our shoulders we bore an incinerator and around our neck was tied a noose. We hugged each other and sobbed loudly –

We were received with surprise and encouragement from the many people gathered on the streets of Beirut that day. A couple even asked us to include their infant in our procession which we did gladly, giving him a bright red clown nose and carrying him whilst we set up our Guinness World Record breaking noose of trash. The crowd was keen to take part, we placed the noose around one of our necks and with the help of enthusiastic (and sometimes weary) volunteers we held it up with a broomstick and started piling on the trash.

Our attendance at the demonstration is part of our long term clown commitment to living in a cleaner and healthier environment. You may remember us from the last protest we attended where we were interviewed by the press:

After everyone had packed up and gone home, we received a message from one of the organiser’s of the event who thanked us for our participation and intervention because we had transformed the protest from a dramatic and heavy on the heart event into something a little more enjoyable. It is always important to stand up for our rights. See you very soon on the streets, where we will be standing up for social justice with a little side of clown humour!

IDEAS BOX part 3

The IDEAS BOX project that we collaborated with INTERSOS and the Goethe Institute on has come to an end. We carried out two social therapy workshops each lasting several weeks. The  first was run by Chantal and focused on storytelling and theatre which you can read about here, and the second, run by Joelle, focused on digital storytelling which you can read more about here.

During the digital storytelling workshops the kids made two mini movies whilst learning the technical aspects of film making, how to use the camera and other basic skills. Take a look at the results below:

 

 

 

Clown Tour 2017!

We have just finished our 2017 Clown Tour of Lebanon and whilst we clowns recover from the 10 days of back to back performances we would like to take a minute to thank everybody who supported us through our generosity campaign and fundraisers and helped make this tour a reality. We went up and down the country, travelling hundreds of kilometres per day to perform in refugee camps, schools and public spaces spreading laughter and and love where it is most needed.

This tour was very different to our usual tour, along with our regular Clown Me In members (who you can find out more about here) we were joined by new clowns from We Must Clown, the project we launched this summer in collaboration with the Qattan foundation (click here to find out more) and also by Leah and Hannah from Clowns Without Borders USA. The entire show was devised in one week through intensive rehearsal sessions with all the clowns on board.
We included our favourite scenes from our old show but added new scenes tackling issues such as trash, honking, plastic surgery and hygiene.

We travelled up and down the country in and around Akkar, the Bekaa, Tripoli, Beirut, Sour, Saida and managed to perform for over 4600 children, teenagers and adults. The response we got was so positive and we really had to tear ourselves away from the kids at the end of each show, neither of us wanted to part ways!

For us the most important part of the tour is reaching kids who don’t usually have access to this kind of entertainment or activities. This is why before and after each show we spent as much time as we could walking around the camps and playing, dancing, clowning around and laughing with the kids and adults alike.

This tour was also different to our usual tours as we had brand new clowns with us every step of the way, and a slightly different team every day. We took the risk of having a less prepared and polished show in order to include new members of Clown Me In and what a difference that made! We were able to travel to and perform for their communities which created a bond between us, the performers, and the audience that you could never ordinarily achieve. For the audience, seeing someone they know and love arriving with the clown troupe makes the show extra special and meaningful; for the performer, bringing all these clowns to their community is a moment of pride and creates a bigger commitment to the show. And for the tour as a whole? It enables a series of really special moments unique to those specific shows and gives everyone that extra little boost when energy is running low.

Click here to find out more about We Must Clown.
Click here to find out more about our work with Clowns Without Borders.

Clown Me In 2017 TOUR

Super excited to announce our new Clown Me In tour that we are doing with Clowns Without Borders USA and We Must Clown! Check out the tour dates below to catch a show near you.

CMI Tour2 updateCMI Tour2 update2

This tour is being funded by the money raised from our generosity campaign. A massive thank you to all of you for your support and generous donations. The campaign is still running to fund a further tour so click here to donate and please share with your friends!

Liban Jeux 2017

Back in July I was invited to represent Lebanon as a storyteller at the 2017 Jeux de la Francophonie in Abidjan.

I used the opportunity to share stories about my experiences clowning for refugees with Clown Me In and Clowns Without Borders.

I am always grateful to be given a platform to tell these stories, they are stories that are very important to me and to many others I am sure. They ares stories of human suffering, compassion and love. They are stories that need to be shared with the world. Thank you to all the artists and athletes with whom I had the pleasure of sharing these few days with, and thank you to my fellow Clown Me In member Chantal Mailhac who translated all the stories into french.

 

Panoptikum – Sabine

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with PanOptikum, a theatre ensemble based in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

My relationship with the producer Matthias Rettner of Pan Optikum actually began 5 years ago when Chantal Mailhac (fellow Clown Me In member) and myself were performing Whispered Tales in Portugal. Pan Optikum were doing a huge street production so Matthias was there and able to catch our show. He loved it and invited us to work with the theatre one day.

5 years later and here we are! Matthias contacted me and asked me to take part in PanOptikum’s project entitled ‘Power of Diversity – The Crossing Lines’. I was invited to Freiburg on 3 separate occasions for 9 days each where I worked with youth and refugees to develop the piece HOCHWASSERZUKUNFT (High Water Future) which was co-directed by Sigrun Fritsch.

I had a fantastic time working with the group who were enthusiastic and great collaborators! We had the pleasure of working in the big and beautiful PanOptikum workshop space ordinarily used for building their sets. Working on a German text was a challenge for me but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I was able to focus more on the physical performance and stage presence. Sigrun did the rest and most of the amazing work

In February, the show was finally performed for two nights on the small stage of the Freiburg Theatre to a completely packed audience on both nights!

My final week in Frieburg, I performed Whispered Tales in two cafes. Whispered Tales is a collection of Lebanese and Syrian stories told alongside musical accompaniment and enjoyed with Lebanese coffee and thyme and oil. The performances in Freiburg were particularly exciting because I teamed up with students from UCW Freiburg. I spent three hours at their school telling them stories with students improvising the accompanying music and then three of the students offered to perform with me in the cafes!

So, together with Imelda, Donovan and Katja, we spent three hours rehearsing and then set off for our first performance. It took place in a small local café with an audience of about 40. The second night we performed at the theatre café before the main performance where we attracted an audience of 150 people! Both shows were a huge success, so thank you Imelda, Donovan and Katja for taking part and being so wonderful!

All photographs credit to Felix Groteloh

We Must Clown!

يهدف مشروع “تهريج إجباري” إلى جمع إثنا عشر مؤدٍ غير محترف (فلسطينيين، سوريين، ولبنانيين) مختارين من المجتمعات المهمّشة و المتركزة في خمس ضواحٍ من لبنان (بيروت، جبل لبنان، البقاع، الجنوب والشمال).

سيمنح هؤلاء برنامج تدريبي محترف عن فن التهريج في مدينة بيروت لتمكين قدراتهم وسينتج عرض واحد يؤدى في خمس مناطق مختلفة في لبنان بمشاركة من أعضاء “Clown Me In”، كما سينتج خمس فيديوهات مدتها ثلاثين ثانية يتم تداولها عبرالانترنت.

سيتناول عرض الشارع والفيديوهات المنتجة مواضيع متعلقة بمشاكل اجتماعية معينة يتم اختيارها من قبل المشاركين أنفسهم . ذلك سيؤدي إلى إلقاء الضوء على بعض من هموم هذه المجتمعات والتحفيز على ابتكار وإنتاج أعمال مستقبلية تسعى لمعالجة هذه المشاكل  وإيجاد حلول لها.

هذا المشروع بتمويل من “صِلات: روابط من خلال الفنون” و Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Art

 

The project aims to bring together 12 non-professional clowns ( Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese) from disadvantaged communities in the 5 districts of Lebanon, giving them professional clown training,  devising a street clown performance together with 3 clown members of Clown Me In, performing it 5 times in public spaces in Lebanon and producing five 30sec clown videos to be shared online.  

The outcome (performance and 5 videos) will tackle specific social problems chosen by the participants themselves. The performance and the 5 videos will shed light on some of these communities’ concerns in order to instigate the creation and production of future works that discuss these problems and find solutions to them.

This project is funded by “Selat: Links Through the Arts and Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Art.