A short introduction...
The clown opens up a space that is much greater than the one we normally allow ourselves to live in. Celebrating and enjoying successes and flops alike the clown steps into the world fearlessly, finding an open door at every fiasco. Discovering who we are in each moment, the clown shares that immense richness and poetic imperfection with others.
The Play of Now helps to foster innovation, while teaching participants to fail well and to stay open and creative in the face of the unexpected. We offer workshops in finding one's own clown, for individuals as well as groups, and as professional training.
A longer introduction...
A Clown is a being that steps into the world afresh. He or she is open to new experiences, meeting things, people, events with wonder, curiosity and a sense of pleasure. Quite different from our pragmatic and often routine way of being, a clown is forever discovering the new. She enjoys being just herself however she is - so being shy, awkward, grumpy, afraid, bossy, falling in love or falling over - all those have a place and can be experienced, seen and celebrated.
And flops and failures are not something to hide from or feel embarrassed about, but an opportunity to reveal yet another aspect of a clown's characteristics, his or her very unique and inimitable way of being - a part of their individual poetry of life.
Originally, in the world of the circus, the clowns were those artists and gymnasts who were too old to be on the trapeze or involved in other dangerous acts - they made too many mistakes. So from that the archetypal act of a clown is just that: to fall over, to fail. This is what we meet whenever we watch a clown, that sense of getting into a mess with even the simplest of tasks. Despite the ever increasing sense of fiasco the clown remains optimistic and confident, and so allows us to laugh about him: we empathize, because we are so very familiar ourselves with the fact of fallibility and imperfection.
Every clown lives in their very own world, their emotional states and experiences, their physical being and their own particular way to deal with what the world throws up for him or her. Their physical posture, voice and costume all come together to show to the world something about the unique way that this being engages with life in all its ups and downs.
Clowning and its benefits...
In this personal and very comical work, the participants discover their own clown. Not a character one takes on, the clown is really a state in which one consciously explores ones own naivety, imbalances and contradictions in order to transform them into the poetry of the ridiculous.
The state of the clown is one of openness and deep listening to oneself. It allows one to see oneself, others and the whole world afresh and to experience a far wider way of being and greater range of emotion. Letting go of ideas of right and wrong, of shoulds and of control, in discovering the clown inside oneself, one can allow oneself to play again, to experience whatever arises and discover one's own individuality and both folly at the same time.
Through the work with our own clown we open ourselves to who we are more deeply, both the half hidden as well as what might be totally obvious to others! The exercises and improvisations are done in a spirit of lightness and play. They will help to discover and explore our very individual ways of being and so create greater understanding and insight for each individual participant. In allowing the clown in some of the exercises to enter the everyday world and work of the participant, we see how he brings his new perspective and a very different way of interacting with colleagues, clients and the task in hand.
Clowning and meditation ...
In meditation we allow our mind just to be, and so to reveal to us the sky-like nature of all things. Dwelling in that dimension more and more, we are clearing away the veils that usually cover our senses and we come to have a more direct experience of life and the world around us. When we stop holding on so tightly to the idea of who we are and stop maintaining that view by the stories we tell ourselves and others about us, we can relax. Relax into the open space that is always there for us and has never shut us out. Meditation allows us to re-integrate ourselves effortlessly into space and discover that so much more is possible than the small story of 'I', the box in which we usually try to contain ourselves and all that occurs.
Entering the world of the clown we open ourselves to ourselves including contradictions and imperfections. The clown trips and spills through life seeing an open door at every flop. She lives in a state of perpetual wonder at the world and nurtures an openness to the infinite possibilities of life. Clowning and meditation have a lot in common. The stepping into the unknown, the openness to whatever occurs, the sense of improvisation rather than being able to plan what will happen. Both ask for and help in developing an awakeness, integration, joy and the ability not to take life so seriously.
While meditation occurs, on the whole, sitting on a cushion, eyes either open or closed, clowning happens in a public space, in front of others - the same as most of our lives. In clowning we show others what goes on, when we enter an unknown situation. Not just keeping our responses private we share them with all our friends in the group, honestly and directly. While this can take a bit of courage the mutual understanding that is created is tremendous and reconnects us with life and our fellow human beings. Breaking through a sense of isolation we might have, we can experience mutual support and empathy and the joy in being ourselves and being appreciated for who we are.
Red Nose Workshops and Training ...
The Play of Now offers workshops open to everyone, with or without previous experience. Participants enter into a spirit of exploration, curiosity and deep listening to themselves, in order to find their personal clown. Plenty of exercises to warm up body, voice and imagination, fun, games and improvisation, using props as well as costumes, assist in the discovery and development of the new clown's way of being. The atmosphere is light and supportive and helps the clown in the first tentative steps and maybe towards a delicate dance or decisive stomp - whichever it may be!
General workshops run for 2-3 days.
The Play of Now offers professional training in team-work, communication skills, leadership, public presentation, listening and creative engagement. Each workshop is individually tailored to the group and their area of engagement. Training is available to suit different purposes and various time frames.
A half-day training allows participants to relieve stress and to relax body and mind. It is great for team building and for allowing people to see each other with fresh eyes - possibly washed with the tears that come from having a good laugh. This can stand alone or be used as a taster in preparation for a longer workshop. (max participants 25)
A one-day training will give a good team building experience, getting to know one another better, exploring and playing with the dynamics that occur at work and between people. It will serve as a new start and help everyone to work together more creatively. (max participants 25)
A two or three day training will allow for the whole development of the individual clown as well as then applying the clown's perspective and way of being to the everyday work and interaction of the group of participants. It will bring clarity into communication and open up fresh and more imaginative ways of engaging with the work. It is very helpful for work that involves public presentation or interface and dealing with clients. Themes touched on include how to deal with insecurity and fear of failure in any area of work. The training also assists in bringing about more direct and truthful communication in the team, supporting a healthier team dynamic. (max participants 12)