House of Peace: Art of Being Workshop

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 Choucairwith some of our other clowns jumping in too– to learn how to use clowning to communicate important issues.

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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.

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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. 

 

Let’s Laugh Workshop FEB 2019

Because we want to spread clown culture as far and wide as possible, we sometimes give short workshops for anyone interested in discovering and bringing their inner clown to life. We had 12 participants sign up for our intensive, five-day Let’s Laugh workshop in February with Sabine Choucair, where they learned how to build their clown characters and personalities through different games and activities. 

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This is what Monif, one of the participants, had to say about the experience:

Joining the workshop with Clown Me In has opened many doors for me, both perceptually and personally. I have begun exploring a new side of myself, a side which initially resisted the idea of letting out my inner child. That resistance fell away as I confronted myself, and one small clown step at a time, we all began to define our clowns’ characters, and saw the team’s true colors flourish. 

We had daily routines as part of the workshop, playing games like Mr. Hit, the impersonated Simon-Says game: “Jacques a dit”, and sometimes just a little of a very loud round of Screaming Tag. These games always helped get us into character so that, day by day, we could build on the previous steps. We were always ecstatic to discover what we would have coming up, as we were not only building our clown-selves for those moments, but are actually using that process until today. I feel like my personality fused with the teachings of the workshop to produce a new version of myself. This has kept me wanting to clown outside of the workshop, so I now look for every opportunity I can get!

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Our New Location

One of our biggest achievements this year is acquiring our own location: CLOWN ME IN THE HOUSE!

In the past year and a half, we changed 3 different locations, each time packing and unpacking and reorganize all our clown gear. Not going through the details of the past 12 years 🙂
Can you imagine how much clown gear we have? All our fun props, hoops, costumes, kazoos and crazy stuff that you might find  in a clown’s bag? 😂

But finally, WE MADE IT.

The new space is serving as our Clown Me In rehearsals space used for Clown shows, The Caravan Project, and of course as the very very serious classroom for the students and teachers of IIVVSS

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The new location is supported by SintraCo who offered us the space,
and Fondation SESAM and DROSOS who partially funded the furnishing of the interior.

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Cleaning and setting up the space in September by the clowns