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 moved 3 different locations, each time packing and unpacking and reorganize all our stuff. Can you imagine all of our clown stuff? All our  weird props, hoops, and crazy stuff that you might find  in a clown’s bag? 😂😂

But finally, WE MADE IT.

The new space is serving as our rehearsals space for Clown Me In and our The Caravan Project, meeting space, and 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

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.

Sabine Shoucair Perofrm The Work New York Beirut Lebanon Clown 1Sabine Shoucair Perofrm The Work New York Beirut Lebanon Clown Happy MerchSabine Shoucair Perofrm The Work New York Beirut Lebanon Clown MerchSabine Shoucair Perofrm The Work New York Beirut Lebanon Clown Patch Adams Son

 

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!

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 Schedule

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.

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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!

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.

CATCH – Creative Arts for Change

Through creativity we can change the situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

 

 


 

 

 

61 million people are right now fleeing from war, persecution and poverty. In vulnerable situations affected by violence and uncertainty, existing power and gender structures are growing stronger. In areas of Lebanon where people who have fled from Syria now live, the situation is getting more and more acute as physical, mental and sexual violence against girls and women are constantly increasing. This is why, Clowns Without Borders Sweden together with Beirut DC and Clown Me In are starting  the two-year project “Creative ArTs for CHange”.

Together, Clowns Without Borders Sweden and Clown Me In (Beirut DC) will train Syrian and Lebanese people with a background in art, culture and social work. They will be given new tools and methods to apply when leading group workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In these workshops, Syrian girls, women, boys and men, will be invited in separate groups to express themselves in a safe space, to create understanding for others and get psychosocial support through creative art forms. The project is being carried out with financial support from the Swedish development assistance via the Swedish Institute.

“We are living one of the worst and biggest crisis in the world, a project like this one would open a space for us to come together, to listen and to act. The need is big in Lebanon and around the world and we all need to act right now,” says Sabine Choucair, co-founder of Clown Me In at Beirut DC.

“Creative ArTs for CHange” starts in April 2017. The first of two 5-6 weeks’ group leadership trainings take place in August-September, and then the weekly exercises for refugees starts in October 2017.