What Every Actor Does Not Know: Clowning to Expand Theatrical Performance Horizons
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Over the last few years, I have become very interested in clowning and physical theatre. This interest deepened during my study abroad in England, and I have decided that I would like to pursue theatrical clowning as a career. This field, although competitive, does not attract as many performers as do the more mainstream types of theatre, such as musical theatre or drama. However, I believe that some of the techniques used in theatrical clowning could be beneficial to performers in all types of theatre. Through my Senior Individualized Project, I wish to discover how all actors can utilize clowning exercises in performance, whatever the variety of theatre in which they work. In order to accomplish this, I plan to attend the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. For one month I will attend classes in New Vaudeville, Clowning, Circus Arts, Juggling, and possibly Movement. In addition, I will observe a few performances at the Mad River Festival, a physical theatre festival held in Blue Lake. After the month in Blue Lake, I will create a short performance based on what I have learned at the school. Upon returning to Kalamazoo College, I will perform my clowning act, and possibly hold an informal workshop (based on requests from other students) to teach Kalamazoo College theatre students what I have learned. I believe that this project will benefit me personally as a theatre artist, not simply because I will be learning to create a clowning character, but also in terms of feeling comfortable in my body on stage. I have cerebral palsy, and feel that the classes that I will be taking can assist me in my efforts to feel secure in my movements. I wish to be a professional clown/physical comedian upon finishing college. I believe that my project will assist me in this goal, because at the Dell' Arte School I will be able to learn and invent clowning acts, as well as develop a clown character. All of this will be taught by professional artists in the physical theatre, and I believe that I shall benefit from their tutelage, not only because of their experience, but also because they can advise me in which paths might be appropriate to take in order to begin performing. This project will benefit other students in the theatre department through the planned performance and "workshop", which will demonstrate to the students various clowning exercises that can be beneficial to all performers. It is my hope that this project will also introduce a different form of theatre to students who perhaps are unaware that clowning involves more than pies-in-the-face. I will feel that this project has succeeded if the result is one student becoming interested in clowning.
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