Angels can Fly - A Modern Clown User Guide
Angels can Fly includes a mix of fiction which follows the adventures of ten clown characters, personal clown anecdotes from clowns from around the world, a total of 50 practical clown exercises, and some theory on the nature of modern clown. The book is available on order through bookshops and online stores in New Zealand, Australia, America and England.
And You can get a free eBook copy of the book to read on your computer at: www.alanclay.com/ebook_list.htm
On this page you will find excerpts from the book. Check back often for new excerpts from Angels can Fly.
And while you are here, why not check out Alan Clay's new clown film, Moontan, which was shot in October 2006 in Wanganui, New Zealand, staring Annette Devick from Canada and Mark Hudson from Australia.Chapter 3. Exercise: Accepting AttentionWORKSHOP
Participants sit in a semicircle with a chair at the focal point, and one at a time they sit on the chair, and look around at the audience, making eye contact briefly with each person.
Next they hold the eye contact with two people, one after the other, for 20 seconds each.
In our culture extended eye contact is not something we do, unless there is an emotional relationship between the participants, so after the first few moments, the vulnerability of the contact, without that relationship to strengthen it, can become quite excruciating. I tell participants that I don't mind what else happens during these 20 second periods of eye contact, so long as the eye contact is held.
When we are open and vulnerable to an audience member we often feel a demand to entertain, so some people may extend their communication into a performance or a game. This is all okay, so long as they hold the eye contact.
Run the whole group, one after the other, with applause for each, and then talk about it. (See the exercise in chapter 29, Feedback Session, for tips on how to maximise the learning value of this discussion process.) Ask some questions first. What did we experience in the exercise? What did we learn? How was it to look in someone's eyes? Do we do this normally in life?
We come to an understanding that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and of the communication process that occurs through those windows.
Red Nose Attention
In a variation on this exercise, the person in the centre puts on a red nose as they sit on the chair, and take the nose off as they get up, and leave it on the chair for the next person. Otherwise the exercise is played as above.
This exercise is always one of the first that I work with in my workshops, because it introduces the the approach of being in the moment on stage, of acting without acting, as well as helping to overcome the inhibitions we often feel at the start of a workshop about being the focus of attention.
Participants react to this exercise in different ways, however mostly the person in the centre bursts into expression in some form, with facial expressions, sounds, posture changes, or words, in an effort to build communication with 'the other' who is in their intimate space, and there by keep themselves safe.
One might say this is a good definition of modern clown, certainly much clown comes out of this exercise, but this is discovered in the work, while the intention is held simply on the eye contact.
Some people respond to this exercise by deadening themselves to expression, by looking 'at' the other, rather than by making eye contact. These people should be encouraged to be more present and expressive, and reminded that it is about the contact, not about the determination to stare.
If time is limited, one can jump straight to the second part of this exercise, but if there is sufficient time it is instructive to run the exercises one after another and see the difference. Another variation would be to run half the group without the nose, discuss, and then run the nose with the other half.
It tends to be that people feel less vulnerable with the nose, and more able to control the situation to affect the 'safety in intimacy' that we talked about above. What the nose does for most people, according to feedback, is give them permission to play.
Angels can Fly is available on order through bookshops and online stores in New Zealand, Australia, America and England. Order your copy today. Find it on Amazon by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/9nrwj
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Last updated 24 November 2011