Monday, October 24, 2011

The Lion Sandwich or how Philippe Gaulier touched a deep nerve

Feeling a little deflated after clown class.
Nothing unusual happened in todays exercise.
The normal mix of bad, average and the funny orientals. Oh to be non-European and sound funny whenever you open your mouth to speak English.
Is that racist?
Maybe, but in class it is certainly true; Yurichi and Kosei seem to get laughs almost everytime they speak.
Me the odd titter here another there but none of the belly laughs that happened on Friday.
Okay so on analysis, Friday we had a structure to hold on to but today, and most days in the space with nothing; I flop.
Very frustrating.

So, the exercise, 5 people enter the space to music, circle the space, music stops and then we had to introduce the celebr..celebr..celebrat the first y..y..y.year of the..ecol.ll.l..l.le....Phil..l...l..lipe..gau...gau.gau..lier!
You got it?
Me, I don't fink it could be more clearer."
This is more or less how Philippe explains the game to us.

I get up to be one of the first 5.
Enter onstage.
Walk round.
Music stops.
Philippe points down the line 1,2,3,4,5.
I'm no 4.
my friends start.
Boom goes the drum.
Before I know its me.
I walk a bit forward. to
Nothing not a peep.
Where is this thing called clown?

Later in class we get to have another go.
Same again.
No laughs.
Same for most people in class today.

later still I have 1 more go, I think about pleasure, about trying to contact the audience, abouttrying to have fun, about not being too confident about being bad and...........
silence from the audience.
Philippe turns to Steve.
"If he leaves the stage Steve, you are happy?"

"Noooo Steve, Noooo!" I shout

Steve turns to Philippe

"Yes. I am happy if he leaves the stage."

I start to take myself back. This has previously got a laugh.


"Normally when I leave they laugh." I whine "Philippe I'm getting worse."

I rejoin the line, Ammo looks at me as if to say are you okay, I give him a wink and he winks back.
We watch as Claude flops.

End of class

Philippe answers a question from Steve, I'm backstage getting changed wondering why nothing is working.

Steve: "Does the clown like the flop?"

PG: "Non, he does not like the flop, no clown likes to flop but the clown, he loves to save the show. The great clowns they write the flop into the show, you take Charlie Rivel, he would flop and then everytime he would save the show with his Owwwwowwwowwwww!"

We have to learn to flop and then save the show, not flop and keep on going. Flop AND THEN SAVE THE SHOW.

I spoke to Philippe after class. I asked him.
"Philippe do you think the flop kills me?"

"Non, its your smile. When you smile we think you don't really care to save the show."

"Ah so I need to eat a lion sandwich?" (Philippes advice for actors who are too timid or who don't give enough)

"Yes. If you smile we don't care because you don't. We don't think you will do anything to make us laugh"

"So it's a question of attitude? I have to take it more seriously?"

"Yes. You, you look at the girl who cried, it was because she was desperate. She wanted to make us laugh that she cries. You have fun, but it is serious." His eyes tell me that he is deadly serious when he says this. I need to start taking it more seriously. It has to matter moreto me. Much much more.

I say thank you Monsier. and start to write in my notebook.

"It has to matter. If you want to get paid to do this it's the secret, it really has to matter."

This last generous sentence struck me in a way like nothing else he has said so far.
It is a question of attitude.
Of taking the fun seriously.
Of it really mattering whether the audience laugh or not.
Maybe this small truth revealed under the spotlights of a small school in Etampes has opened up the reason why I have only played fringe works these last years.
Does it really matter enough to me?
That is the question that I want answering here, over these next 8 weeks.
Does it matter to me?
Really matter?
I know I can do it, I've done it before.
I need to eat lions and bears every day before class to give me the strength and courage to do anything.
Anything for their laughs.
Anything to save the show!

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