Saturday, January 22, 2005

Hilary Chaplain Clown Anecdote

I was teaching a course in clowning in New York open to amateurs and professionals with any amount of experience. I had a wonderfully varied array of students - from party clowns to serious theatre professionals.

Out of 10 students, 5 were women over 60, 4 of whom had come to clowning later in life as something fun to do do. I was rather anxious when they walked in recognizing them all from a Clown Alley in New Jersey where I had given a talk.

I knew these women had never been in a class anything like what I planned to teach and was afraid that they would be resistant to just being themselves, no make-up, no floppy shoes, no wigs to hide behind.

I was so wonderfully surprised to learn that they had chosen to come to my class precisely because they knew they would be getting something very different from what they had experienced before at the Clown Camps they had attended.

They were so open to me, a woman a little more than half their age, asking them to bare themselves before the group, to me playing the authority figure with them, to me asking them to just be themselves as honestly as they could and to shed their clown tricks.

I did a very simple exercise one day that was an incredible break through for one of these women. I had each person enter the room, see the audience, take a breath, and present themselves to us. Very simple, very difficult.

We're so used to trying to be a certain way and so uncomfortable just seeing and being seen for who we are. One of these women had an extraordinary experience with this exercise. She felt that for the first time in her life, show was JUST her.

Not a twin (she had a twin sister) not a wife, not a mother. It was a profound moment for her. The next class she told us that the feeling had carried over the week and that she had never felt so much like herself.


Hilary Chaplain’s award winning solo physical comedyshow A Life In Her Day, will be presented at Carcajada 2005 in Buenos Aires this April and has been performed at the Faust Festival in Hong Kong, The NY International Fringe Festival where it won a "Best of the Fest Solo Show Award", the LA Women’s Theatre Festival, the East Coast Funny Women's’ Festival, and the Prague and Melbourne Fringe Festivals.

As a solo performer she has also appeared at PSNBC in NYC, the FILO Festival in Londrina, Brazil, The Atlanta Fool’s Festival, The Funny Women Festival, Chicago, The Crazy Women Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia, Caroline’s Comedy Club, Surf Reality and more.

A founding member of the New York Goofs, Hilary has appeared with them in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Wolf Trap Family Farm. Patients at NYC hospitals know her as "Nurse Nice" of the renowned Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit®.

She was an original cast member in Bill Irwin's Largely/New York, and appeared on Broadway in the NYSF production of The Tempest, directed by George C. Wolfe. She played a featured role named Hilary in the film Forrest Gump.


Anonymous said...

and she is one of the most talented performers of our time, not to mention as funny as all get out...and a real real sweet gal!

2:08 AM  

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