For the 2018 tour, and following the We Must Clown project, Stephen Sobal from All In Theatre joined Sabine Choucair from Clown Me In to train the new clowns and artists of We Must Clown. Clowns from Clown Me In and our new We Must Clown members devised the show together and started touring –from the 24th of October till the 4th of November– the new performance around Lebanon along with Hannah Elisabeth and Brendon Gawel from Clowns Without Borders USA who are also joining this year’s tour.
This tour usually comes after our We Must Clown workshop, a program aimed at giving free workshops to young people from different backgrounds and give them the opportunity to express themselves through clowning, then join the regulars of Clown Me In as part of the yearly tour.
All 24 clowns went on tour from October 24 to November 4, in Choueifat, Tannourine, Akkar, Tripoli, Barr Elias, Tyre, Saida, Aley, Deir El Qamar, suburbs of Beirut, and several areas around Lebanon (check the full schedule for location details). We performed in refugee camps, schools and public spaces, spreading happiness and laughter to kids and adults of all ages.
Since we’re all about getting new people involved, we were happy to have not only new clowns, but also a guest trainer, Stephen Sobal, from the All In Theatre in London. Sabine and Stephan worked together, supervising and training the clowns, building on improvised scenes – bit by bit – to create the performance and link the ideas together, based on themes that are important to the clowns that we wanted to share with the communities we would be visiting. Recycling, hygiene and the environment were the main topics we tackled. Language barriers didn’t stop anyone from laughing and having fun. Clowning is, after all, a universal language of its own.
“Laughter is important because people sometimes forget to be happy”
“الضحك مهم لأنو الإنسان بينسى مرات يكون مبسوط”
Man from Deir el Ahmar after watching the show
The experience was in itself great for everyone involved and they came away having learned something new about themselves and others. This really showed through in the performances, where us clowns were challenged by audience interaction, having to listen and engage with them as well as helping, supporting and communicating with one another, all in the spirit of teamwork.
Everyday on tour was a road trip, with us together in 2 or 3 big cars, singing songs and playing Souk Oqqaz and improv games as we drove all over Lebanon. We even got stuck in mud on the way to some of the refugee camps that were sometimes difficult to reach. Good thing some clowns are professional (not really) off-road drivers, too. The fact that these places are sometimes so difficult to reach remind us that it’s really important to take the time to get there, because the kids are so excited to see us and so happy to watch the show. They also asked us over and over if we could come back more. Some kids we surveyed at the end said they’d want to see a clown show EVERY DAY if they could!
The excitement level from the kids never dropped, even in schools that get regular access to artistic and cultural events (Yes, we do have tools for measuring these things scientifically, in case you were wondering). The kids were always focused and immersed in the experience, even in the places we had already visited before on different tours.
Dahr El Moghr, in Tripoli, is a village built on a hill that can be reached by climbing a whooooole lot of stairs. Our visit wasn’t expected, so we started calling out for people to gather. The kids who saw us coming up the stairs were so excited that they were actually the ones who got everyone gathered in the square within ten minutes, filling up not only the square but also the roads all around it with people watching all around from their balconies! Some of the kids even remembered which of us clowns were there last time, down to the details of what we were wearing!
It’s these moments that mean a lot to us, and that keep us doing what we do. Kids who remember you even if they’ve seen you only once before, who are receptive to stories and messages that you’re trying to communicate, and who are sad to see you go. A lot of them always ask when the clowns are coming back, and the feedback we receive when we ask what they think of the shows is (no joke) overwhelmingly positive. The only kid who was actually unhappy with something was upset because he saw Sabine (the co-founder and clown) sitting on the side with her broken leg and felt bad for her!
“حبيت أصبح في المستقبل مثلهم”
“I’d like to be like them in the future”
Wasayef Muhammad, 10 years old, Arqa camp
The tour may be over (at least for this year 😉 ), but check out some of the highlights in this short video!
We also be shared 3 short videos that were done as part of the We Must Clown workshop
We Must Clown project is funded by Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Middle East Office, Beirut and British Council Lebanon.
A big shoutout to all of you around the world who helped us fund this year’s tour and supported us through our yearly crowdfunding campaign.
To know more about this project go here