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 short clown film, , staring Annette Devick from Canada and Mark Hudson from Australia which was shot in New Zealand in October 2006.
And also the new comming of age romantic comedy, Courting Chaos, shot in Los Angeles in 2013, in which a Beverly Hills girl falls for a Venice Beach street clown named Chaos and she must overcome her inhibitions and become a clown herself for the relationship to survive.Chapter 17. Anecdote: David MacMurray SmithBasic Training for My Clown, Canada
I grew up in a small town in New England. As a boy, and up until graduation from high school, I spent a major amount of my time working on my best friend's family dairy farm. At that time I had no plans to become a performer at all, let alone a Clown. I was going to be a doctor. I was sure of it and that was the image that I held of myself. Most of my perspective on the world and of myself were framed by that image.In the meantime I was, by circumstance, in the company of what I now consider to be some extraordinary individuals. The boys of Fieldstone Farm. My best friend and his two older brothers. Whether we were young boys or not, we were expected to manage a full-grown man's workload on the farm. I learned how to work hard while there. And, in the company of the boys of Fieldstone Farm, I also learned how to play hard.
These boys were very intelligent people and it was because of that, I think, that they were constantly inventing games to play while we were working, to keep themselves stimulated intellectually. The main premise of most of these games revolved around self-images and the behaviours that went with them. We would create characters and perform them for each other to make comment on ourselves, our situation, on other people we knew, and of the world around us. We were constantly in observation of human behaviour and the way that behaviour related to the images that people held of themselves. No-one was exempt from being played with. No subject was taboo. We were equal-opportunity employers for any and all things human and for any way we may wish to comment on them.
There were some very strange characters who came to work as farmhands over the years who inadvertently became case studies for our self entertaining games. We would name the behaviours and perform them in extreme dimensions. Many of them were named in a sarcastic way like, Mr. Friendly, for someone who is not, or after aspects of behaviour we wanted to comment on like, Lover Boy or Mr. Macho. And many were named after the people who inspired them. So, behaviors could be described as, doing a Geoffrey or doing a Paul.
An interesting thing about this entertainment was that it was actually much more than that. It was an amazing form of education as well. We were educating ourselves to be students of human behaviour and we were also educating ourselves in a quality of honesty that required us to discern the difference between performing an image of ourselves or simply being our real self. I am using the term real to mean an edition of our self that is open, inclusive, and honest.
We were merciless with each other if we saw that any of us were getting caught up in a self-image and being dishonest about who we really were. We were certainly allowed to play images of ourselves and had great fun doing it, but the game was not to confuse our real selves for the image of our self we were playing. The people we viewed as the most sad cases were the people who were playing a perfect image of themselves and did not realise they were doing so. Both those who were trapped in an illusion of inflated self-significance and those trapped in an illusion of self-insignificance.
These were genuinely tragic cases reminiscent of Shakespeare's King Lear who had given his kingdom and kingship away and still thought himself to be king and to be treated as such. He was tortured by the conflict he found himself in. He could not see the reality of his situation for the illusionary image he still held of himself as being king and deserving of the love and respect of his daughters and the service of his subjects.
I consider this time on the farm to be my primary introduction to what I now think is an important aspect of the Clown Mind. That aspect being the ability of the Clown to take delight in playing with the dynamics of the psychological argument between the image we hold of ourselves and the present, real, self in the moment. I like to call this Clown Consciousness.
Perhaps this basic argument remains the same in both tragedy and comedy. The main difference being whether the protagonist realises their situation or does not and presents it accordingly. I think that the skilled Clown can walk the tightrope between Image and Reality with impunity. They consciously play with the confusion between the two for the value to be gained by becoming aware of the trap that our own images of ourselves can become, if we mistake them for our real self.
They are willing to be brutally honest with themselves and to disillusion themselves with the understanding that, by doing so, they will be able to present more responsible illusions. They then can pretend with the purpose of being a responsible and entertaining guide through the maze of image-management concerns we may fall victim to. In doing so I think they present an opportunity to perceive a more enriching reality through their playful provocation towards an increased honesty within ourselves and among one another.
That said, my education on the farm compels me to remember that all I have just described is an image. An image of how a Clown Mind seems to work. I do find it fun to play with.
David MacMurray Smith
Over the last 30 years of his professional career David has worked professionally in the areas of theatre, ballet, opera, mime, and clown, as a creator, a performer, a director, a choreographer, and an educator. He is a movement specialist, body worker, creative and performance consultant, and an experienced counselor who has taught at several universities, was Head Instructor at the Vancouver Playhouse Acting School, and for eight years was the Movement Director for the Music Theatre and Opera Programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He has also been a guest resource artist at The People's Light & Theatre Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1987 and is presently the Core Trainer and Artist in Residence for Full Circle: First Nations Performance in Vancouver.
David founded his own studio, Fantastic Space Enterprises, in 1995, where the focus of the work is on self-liberation and self-realisation through creative expression. His special-interest is in how memory moves and patterns itself in our bodies and in how this affects our perceptions, behaviour, and communication. As a movement specialist David has drawn on his broad range of experience and sources to develop his own body centred, humanist approach to personal and professional development. His expertise lies in his ability to facilitate learning environments that promote principle centered self-education and provide strong foundations for continued personal and professional growth.
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 01 November 2013