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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“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.

Liban Jeux 2017

Back in July I was invited to represent Lebanon as a storyteller at the 2017 Jeux de la Francophonie in Abidjan.

I used the opportunity to share stories about my experiences clowning for refugees with Clown Me In and Clowns Without Borders.

I am always grateful to be given a platform to tell these stories, they are stories that are very important to me and to many others I am sure. They ares stories of human suffering, compassion and love. They are stories that need to be shared with the world. Thank you to all the artists and athletes with whom I had the pleasure of sharing these few days with, and thank you to my fellow Clown Me In member Chantal Mailhac who translated all the stories into french.

 

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