Cheryl Cashman Cheryl Cashman Cheryl Cashman
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Cheryl Cashman

Workshops/Master Classes/University Teaching

"The clown experience is an initiation - a rite of passage.
Clowning is not a skill - it is a state of being."

Cheryl Cashman



Discovering the art of clowning after ten years of doing theatre was a landmark experience for me. While in acting, the audience and actor are involved in 'willing suspension of disbelief'; in clowning, both are involved as well in 'active engagement of the imagination'. This creates a state in which the experience had by each present is deeper and more multifaceted than in most live theatre performances.

In my solo shows, my characters have a clown sensibility that disarms the audience, allowing them to have an unexpectedly deep experience. I have also witnessed the audience having the same intimate and powerful experience during many of the group clown shows I have directed and in the clown shows of other artists.

Each clown intensive involves twelve participants. Each makes six masks. We do a week of exercises - physical/vocal/ensemble and introductory clown exercises such as 'finding the feeling' and 'colours' and most importantly 'coming to neutral'. (I no longer use the neutral mask for this process - I find the actor integrates it better when neutral is felt and experienced in the body as a whole). By having (with the help of the physical/vocal/spatial exercises) the actors' energy be clear physically, with the breath vocally and in the surrounding space, anything can be then dropped in as an impulse - a colour, a piece of text, a sound. 'Coming to Neutral', and 'Doing Nothing in the Nose' are exercises and states of being we who clown or solo return to as a touchstone over the years. Then the actor begins the process of making six masks. Each mask is made with eyes closed, painted by a similarly unconscious process and the mask wears the actor in two improvisations.

In the teaching of the clown intensives the masks are not an end in themselves but a means to awaken the many possibilities which exist in the individual participating. These are worn in two key improvisations repeated throughout: "Waving Goodbye to Someone you Love" and "Return to Childhood". Each mask accesses not one but two possibilities amounting to twelve for each participant to activate and draw upon. The seventh mask, The Nose, contains all of these possibilities.

Masks dressing themselves Students University of Regina

Techniques Used in Each Workshop

  • Voice, Movement and Ensemble exercises to Center, Empower and Attune to the self and the group.

  • Improvisations that invite the varied aspects of yourself to come out: male/female, happy/sad, dark/light

  • Uniting all of these aspects and inviting them to come out and play under the Red Nose

These workshops teach a form of clowning developed by Richard Pochinko. Using European clowning techniques (from the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris) combined with the traditions of the North American native Trickster, adult students align and open and enter deep into the innocence of the child , emerging with a newly-awakened sense of their adulthood. Pochinko called it "Innocence after Experience." From this state the inner clown emerges and takes shape. The work is process-based, focused on the growth of the participant, using comedy to explore human issues and interactions. For performers, the shows which have emerged following the Clown Intensive are imbued with a disarming intimacy and a powerful sense of immediacy.

(See : Clown Shows Directed and Solo Shows)

"The workshops get to the root of self-expression and free the participants' creativity. Starting with breathing and centering exercises, Cheryl takes you through a process which really allows you to let loose, without the feeling of doing anything at all. - Rob Parker, Vancouver workshop participant. (See: Student Testimonials)

Nelson Intensive Grads

Nelson Intensive Grads

Toronto Intensive Grads

Vancouver Intensive Grads

10 week Clown Intensive Grads Salt Spring Island 1996

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