Clowns who are Serious About Having a Laugh
As the nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of Comic Relief, we discover a new kind of clowning which delivers a new kind of slapstick. The kind that makes you sit up and think. The innovative Social Clowns have developed the art of putting serious issues in the spotlight.
‘Sometimes people don’t really want to talk about stuff, they find it scary or difficult. We see our job as breaking down barriers. We hope that if a topic is introduced in a playful way we can open up the debate about sensitive issues in a non-threatening way,’ says Pauline Morel, who is one of the group along with Sinikka Lumiluoto.
At the International Peace Festival they performed a piece about a group of three people who are trying to Do Good. Coming after a serious discussion about Peace, they lightened the mood in a provocative way with their improvisation entitled ‘Save The Tree’…
The tree in question was a real tree which had been brought into the studio: a tall, lanky beast in a tiny pot far too small for its root ball. It did indeed look as if it was in desperate need. The three clowns entered. One noticed its plight, then gradually they all became aware.
The trio set to work using mime to demonstrate that the tree was in trouble and that they were campaigning and fighting on the tree’s behalf. But then it all started to go wrong.
The focus moved away from the tree and started to be all about their relationships with one another, and a power play developed whereby the one who cared most about the tree was ignored and bullied by the other two.
Instead of setting to work as a team to save the tree, they became involved in an internal struggle. Words were not needed to illustrate this common experience and it was clear from the knowing laughter that many in the audience had also been there.
As well as being entertained they’d been reminded about the difficulties of campaigning and the inner politics of pressure groups. Meanwhile, as the curtain came down, the outlook for the tree was still uncertain.
Links: Social Clowning