Monday, April 16, 2012


Good evening one and all.
If this is your first time here then welcome.
If you have visited before then thanks for coming back.
My my my, a hell of a lot has happened since I last left you.
3 major things, firstly the Arts Council said yes to my application to do Bouffon at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier.
This feels great for a number of reasons and the main one being that it feels like Clown Lab are starting to be taken more seriously. Clown Lab will be 3 this year and since we started we have constantly invested time and money into our development and training as performers and teachers. As well as this we have brought some really high caliber teachers to the North West to share their knowledge and further develop a burgeoning clown community. We have also tried to keep the cost of our workshops down so that they can be as inclusive as possible to people because we really do believe in the benefit of the work to performers so to finally achieve some kind of recognition for our hard work is great.

As John Wright said on a workshop that I did with him last year regarding clowning... "We are at the fag end of Art."
Well if that is true then lets hope someone drops it into a puddle of petrol so that we can light up the night with our fun and laughter.

The second good thing to happen was the success of the Occasional Cabaret.
Those of you that were there will know what a good night it was, especially for me as my mum and stepdad were in the audience and evcen though as a compere there were a couple of ropy moments the event as a whole was a success and we are already thinking about the next one. Halloween cabaret anyone?

The third thing and the reason for this blog being back up and running is that I'm now back in Paris having just completed day 1 of Bouffon.
This blog will be online for the next 10 weeks minimum as I try and record, once again my process studying here, my successes, failures and thunkings around this workshop with Philippe Gaulier.

So, no time like the present, off we go.
Class started in the usual fashion. 10 minutes of Samual says, this time allows us to contact each other, to look around in the eyes of classmates and see who is up for playing, who looks tired, who looks hungover,and who is in a giddy mood.

Philippe tells us that historically the bouffon are the outcasts of a society, the downtrodden, the people banished to the swamplands and the forests, spurned by the powers that be in a city. In medieval times these people, the dwarf, the mad, the gay, the prostitute, the jew, the mongel, the gypsy and the heretic priest they absolutely had to be kept away from good society. From Godly society. It's obvious isn't it, if god made man in his image then this ugliness must be the work of the devil. In fact if we are all Gods children then these things could only have been fathered by Lucifer, the evil one. And so it follows how this evilness must be kept away from good society, polite society, god loving society.
To the swamps and murky woodlands for you lot. And while you're at it wear this bell around your neck so that we goody goody god lovers can tell when you're near, so we can cover our good little childrens eyes, we can't have their young minds polluted with the sight of you.
Yes Ring-a-ling-a-ling the toll that sounds the coming of one of lucifers little ones.
Run away or you might catch something nasty.
And then some days the children of God wouldn't be want to go away from the ringing. No, sometimes they would come armed, with sticks and clubs and sneers to beat the children of the devil. Just for fun, you see, for kicks. Ahahaha. Yes. Club to the face, punch to the stomach, stick up the arse.
Ahahaha look at how his head splits when it makes contact with this bat!
Ahahaha, look at all that blood and listen to how it screams, ahahahaha!
Oh it's not moving anymore. Oh for Christs sake it's not moving anymore.
Bloody devil-child fancy going and dying on us. Ruining all our good clean fun.
What fun it must have been to beat and kill them and its all totally guilt free I mean if God doesn't love them, then why should you?

Shut out of the church, shut out of society, living in those nice clean swamps with bells constantly clanging and the occasional beating, yes it wasn't really much fun being a child of the devil not for 364 days of the year at least (363 in a leap year). But they do say that every dog has its day, and seeing as how Dog is the reverse of God then therefore the devil is the dog, so it follows that every dog/devil has his day and this day which eventually became known as carnaval in France was the day that the church was open to the Bouffon.
On this day of the year the doors of the church were thrown open and the children of the devil allowed to pour in and blaspheme to the ugly black hearts content, it really was all go here, defocating on the christ figure, humping the Virgin Mary, pissing in the holy water, total anarchy in the pews.
The one day that the children of the devil could mock the priets and the powers that be of the goodly society.
Still it was worth it, after a bit of a clean and mop up, the children of Gods consciences could remain unsullied for another 364 days.
Our exercises today concerned with trying to make our first steps into the world of the bouffon. The world of the ostracised and downtrodden.

Philippe explains that in the swamps the bouffon wore lots of clothes to protect themselves from the elements so we wrap several layers around ourselves, bind our arms, sit on our haunches with a skirt covering our legs, dirty our faces and blacken the teeth to give us the look of a dwarf from the swamps.

The exercise. 10 bouffon in the space.
Philippe goes down the line. Can you impersonate the prime minister of your country, next a toff.
Then we sing together. A religious song. which builds and builds until we all end up in an orgy singing the hymn, humping one another and laughing manically.
We apologise to the audience for our behaviour. Naughty bouffons. I think that the smile should never be far away.
We smile today because the children of God smile and we parody the children of God.

The final exercise is an exercise in mocking a classmate.

1 person stands in the centre of the room and Philippe asks them questions. Once we think we could have fun to mock this person we go up and mock them.
Its similar to a clown exercise except clown was for fun bouffon is going for the jugular.

Philippe talks quite a bit today, about a workshop he did in Edinburgh with members of Graeae (greyeye) theatre and how brilliantly an actor called Jim played God, about special schools set up in french coastal holiday resorts where the kids aren't allowed out of school during the holiday months.
He talks to us about the bastard and how we have to try to think of 3 bastards who we can parody. The bastard is the kind of person who in war time france would right to the gestapo to say hello there monsieur gestapo, my neighbour is a jew would you come and take him away please. The bastard.
I don't know any bastards. Not personally. I'm glad. Maybe I'm the bastard.
Anyway this will be a challenge to find three bastards
Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Bush, Sadam, Murdoch, these are all fairly conventional targets. I think i need to do some trawling online, go on the hunt for my bastards. I'll take my trusty weapons of parody and mockery and see if i can slay a few bastards once I have them in my sight.

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