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.

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

3 questions to help you live a purposeful life

Paolo Gallo, Chief People & Culture Officer, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva has written this beautiful article to help us all to live a happy and purposeful life. Read it here.

He also did a great Ted x Lausanne talk entitled The Compass of Success where he talks a bit about the work we do:

 

Thank you Paolo for everything you do!

Please support us to continue to do our work by donating here.
We really appreciate any contribution big or small!!