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Cheryl Cashman

Thoughts of a Clown

December, 2011

"Turning Thirty" is the first of a trilogy of solo plays I have written and performed over the last 30 years. Its genre is known as clowning (or more accurately character-clowning). It is linked historically to Vaudeville, and has its roots in the ancient tribal presence of the clown in society as a breaker of taboos, trickster, contrary and court jester - the one who deliberately upsets the balance when things have gone out of perspective in a society or tribe.

Unlike the satirist however, the clown does not speak from a distance, but wades in like a child upsetting the order of things, making us laugh and cry, and awakening the heart to what matters.

Since the inception of this show, and my work with master teacher Richard Pochinko, whose technique was derived from both the old European and ancient Amer-Indian traditions, many brilliant and daring clowns have emerged in a movement known as "the New Vaudeville."

Clowning is not a skill - it is a state of mind. The great reward of both teaching and performing the clown work is the wonderful dialogue of the heart that can occur when we experience together the renewal of our desire to play. But clowning is not naive - it is "innocence after experience." (Portrayals of clowns by Europeans such as Matisse and Fellini attest to the dark side of the art - the deeply human stuff of which it is made.) Not only in Europe but now in North America as well there is emerging a sense of the place and functions of the clown in our society.

I am proud to be a part of this art form - one of the many laughbringers.