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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Clown&Clown Festival – Monte San Giusto, Italy

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Sabine Choucair, Lebanese humanitarian clown and founder of Clown Me In, received the Il Clown nel Cuore 2019 award at the Clown&Clown Festival in Monte San Giusto, Italy, for her work using the art of clowning on the streets and in crisis and conflict zones with refugees, disadvantaged communities, women, and diverse social groups around the world.

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More than 10,000 people attended the award ceremony. The Il Clown nel Cuore award recognizes artists who combine comedy and the joy of living with humanitarian missions in solidarity with those in need, thus becoming models for the community.

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Over the years, the award has recognized the work of big names, including Andrea Caschetto, Dario Ballantini, and Patch Adams. 

Sabine Choucair is the first woman to receive this award.


حازت سابين شقير، المهرجة والناشطة اللبنانية ومؤسسة Clown Me In ، على جائزة Il Clown nel Cuore 2019 في مهرجان Clown & Clown في مونتي سان جيوستو، إيطاليا، عن عملها باستخدام فن التهريج في الشوارع وفي مناطق الأزمات والنزاعات مع اللاجئين والمجتمعات المحرومة والنساء والفئات الاجتماعية المتنوعة في جميع أنحاء العالم

حضر المهرجان وحفل توزيع الجوائز أكثر من 10000 شخص 

تعترف جائزة Il Clown nel Cuore بالفنانين الذين يَجمعون بين الكوميديا والفرح والمهام الإنسانية تضامنا مع المحتاجين، وبالتالي يصبحون نموذجا يحتذى به في المجتمع

على مر السنين، أعطيت هذه الجائزة لأسماء كبيرة تم الاحتفاء بأعمالهم، ومنهم Andrea Caschetto و Dario Ballantini و Patch Adams.

سابين شقير هي أول امرأة تحصل على هذه الجائزة

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Job Opportunity: Operations Officer

Operations Officer

with experience in finance/accounting and operations

Clown Me In (Awrad Association) is a clowning and street theatre NGO based in Beirut, which uses clowning to spread laughter and provide relief to disadvantaged communities while exploring human vulnerabilities and helping individuals to accept them. Clown Me In has worked around the world, in Mexican, Lebanese, Palestinian, Indian, Brazilian, Moroccan, Jordanian, Syrian, Greek and British communities.

We are looking for a self-motivated and result-driven operations officer with extensive experience in finance/accounting and operations for NGOs.

Duties will include formulating policies, coordinating and following up with project managers of the different projects, working on general budgets, allocating budget resources, monitoring and motivating staff, managing operational costs, improving administration processes, identifying new opportunities, and monitoring financial activities.

The successful candidate for this role should possess good communication skills, exceptional budgeting and finance skills and strong leadership qualities.

Operations Officer responsibilities:

  • Overseeing daily operations
  • Developing and implementing growth strategies
  • Developing and implementing policies in accordance to international NGOs norms
  • Creating and managing budgets
  • Evaluating performance and productivity
  • Analysing accounting and financial data
  • Generating reports
  • Managing cash box and bankbook
  • Drafting contracts
  • Overseeing the legal papers of Awrad Association
  • Overseeing the work being done at the new space

Cashbox Management:

  1. Make all due cash payments in a timely manner in coordination with project managers.
  2. Make sure that all invoices are in compliance with rules and regulations required by the Lebanese government and donors.
  3. Make sure there are sufficient funds in cashbox and that cash counting is carried out on a weekly basis.
  4. Record all payments in cashbox sheet in a timely manner.
  5. Archive all financial supporting documents of cashbox according to budgets and projects.

Bankbook Management:

  1. Make all due payments either via check or bank transfers in coordination with project managers and president.
  2. Record all payments in bankbook in a timely manner.
  3. Manage online banking.
  4. Carry out monthly bank reconciliations in coordination with president.
  5. Archive all financial supporting documents of bankbook according to budgets and projects.
  6. Make sure that there are sufficient funds in bank account in order to carry out due payments on time upon request of project manager and/or president.

Human Resources:

  1. Draft new consultancy contracts per budgetary requirements.
  2. Archive resumes and contracts per projects.

Reporting:

  1. Deliver financial reports due to donors on time in cooperation with project manager.
  2. Provide all required financial supporting documents to donor due along with reports.
  3. Provide all documents required by the auditor for the preparation of end-of-year reports to the government and follow up with auditor and lawyer to guarantee that reports are submitted in due time.

Operations Officer qualifications:

  • Degree in business management and/or MBA or similar
  • At least 3 years of experience in NGOs
  • Strong leadership qualities
  • Highly organised
  • Computer literate
  • Good Arabic and English (French is a plus)

 

To apply, send an e-mail to clownmein@gmail.com with “Operations Officer” as a subject along with a motivation letter and your CV before April 19th.

Short-listed candidates will be contacted on the 22nd of April.

To know more about Awrad Association please visit : www.clownmein.com
and our fb page: https://www.facebook.com/clownmeinpage/

Job starts on May 1st 2019

Clown Me In 2018 Tour Performance We Must Clown

Clown Tour 2018

Our Clown Tour for 2018 was a huge success, with 24 clowns reaching over 4,600 people through 25 performances in 10 days all over Lebanon. That’s a fancy way of saying that it was absolutely incredible!

Clown Me In 2018 Tour Performance We Must Clown

Photo from the last show by Diego Ibarra Sanchez

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

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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!

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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!

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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’ll also be sharing a few short videos that were done as part of the We Must Clown workshop soon, so stay tuned!

 

The Tenth Performing the World (PTW)

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Sabine recently participated in the tenth Performing the World (PTW) conference that was held in New York City from the 21st till the 23rd of September, 2018.

Sabine gave a clowning workshop to more than 35 therapists and theatre practitioners. They talked and experimented on how to use different forms of art and theatre as therapeutic tools and forms of activism.

Performing the World is a platform that has a developmental attitude towards life by exploring and celebrating performance as a catalyst for human and community development and culture chance. The conference addresses the need to develop performance activism as an essential tool in developing the world: “We have to perform the world again because – and we’re all involved in this – this one stinks”, said co-founder Newman in 2008.

Sabine met some very inspiring people who led incredible initiatives all around the world, of which was Patch Adams, the comedian, activist, clown and author.

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“Clown Me In” in Boulder Circus Center

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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 disadvantaged communities in the Middle East and Europe. And opened a discussion about how artists can make a positive difference through our work. She is the proud co-founder of the IIVVSS ( International Institute of Very Very Serious Studies) that will be launched in Lebanon in the coming few months.

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!