Moments of joy from 2020, pt. ii

Continuing the series of posts detailing some of my projects from 2020. Because of the nature of the projects and the Big Shift that happened last year, I wasn’t very advertisey in the moment. While many planned things dropped, I was still able to be part of a bunch of interesting and inspiring projects. Over the next little bit, I’m planning on detailing each and sharing some lessons learned throughout.


Therapeutic Clowning

Our work changed in 2020. All around the world many therapeutic or hospital clowns were not allowed to enter our places of work for a variety of very good reasons. It looked like the whole thing would stop and be deemed non-essential. And it did. It was. For a bit, at least. Therapeutic Clown programs all around the world mobilized quickly and efficiently to find ways of continuing this vital work. As you can imagine, a period of lockdown and social isolation is a most important time for our work as therapeutic clowns. Because of COVID-19, so many people in long term care have been more isolated than ever before.

Eventually, after a bit of a change, the work continued by embracing a couple new formats.


Peachy (Heather Marie Annis) and Cecil (me)

I was about to start an in-person apprenticeship in Elder Clowning with Kathleen Le Roux when the pandemic arrived. This caught many of us off-guard and the apprenticeship had to pivot quite dramatically. With Kathleen and her group throughout the summer, we figured out some ways to adapt in order to still be in person. Some sites (like Union Villa) have large window galleries, accessible to the outside. As Kathleen coordinated with staff indoors, the residents were brought to the window galleries at a specific time. Once there, the residents of all three floors were greeted by a couple fools they knew, and one they didn’t (me!).

Dizzy (Kathleen LeRoux)

These outdoor visits forced us to be larger, more theatrical. They asked us to find things that read across distance. Things that could travel to the upper floors. We also had to remain socially distant from one another: one of us would often be close to the glass while the other would be farther back, interacting with the upper floors. It’s not the same as being in the same room and right beside one another but we were able to find moments of true connection: throwing kisses across the yard and up to the second and third floor; hands pressed against the window glass, touching the same surface but not the same skin; mirroring, leading, following the movements offered by either side.

Peachy and Dizzy cheers their friends
Peachy writes on the glass for the residents inside

The visits with Red Nose Remedy eventually started up again on a virtual platform. After half a year, we were able to visit our friends again in their homes, friends we hadn’t been able to see since March 13th. This time, however, we arrived from screen to screen, or, as we like to call it, from nose to nose.

The RNR team after one of our virtual trainings.

The learning curve here was gigantic. One of our biggest skills as therapeutic clowns is the ability to read the room and adjust/enter/proceed accordingly. One of the most effective ways of being in a duo is having an awareness of our proximity to one another and to complement or contrast accordingly. These two fundamental things completely change when a three-dimensional space all of a sudden becomes a series of rectangles on a screen.

Testing out virtual duoship and music.

In both instances, outside/distanced visits and online/virtual visits, true touch is no longer an option and the nature of playing music changes dramatically (another of our often reliable tools).

The Learning

Like anything and everything that’s happened since this pandemic started, trying to recapture how things were before and insist it remain the same is foolish (and not in a good way). We must adapt, even if that means our service looks and feels only slightly similar to what it looked like before (and what it will look like after). What we are able to offer has taken on its own shape, it’s own structure. And with that, there are so many freedoms and creative inspirations that follow (like the unlimited use of props, or playing with the framing of the camera). Our clients still receive authentic, direct and personal interventions, even if they are across such distances.

All around the world, therapeutic clowns are getting back into their places of work. In some countries, hospital clowns have even been receiving the vaccine because the work is recognized as essential. And it is. I’m sure many people will agree that the social isolation we’ve been required to participate in is difficult and has potential to become unhealthy. People need people. We need connection – connection not through a screen. But if that’s all we have right now, then that’s where we’ll meet you.

With a smile and a song.


For more information about Therapeutic Clowning, check out Red Nose Remedy at www.rednoseremedy.ca and Kathleen Le Roux at www.kathleenleroux.com

Glass to Glass

Everything is changing. Much of my interaction with other people has moved behind glass. The black mirror is now a pixellated-shimmering portal offering fluidity and connection when the wifi is good. My heart is heavy these days and my eyes are strained from constantly staring into the near-distance. But with all this connection I’m finding ways to disconnect, and craft in a finger-pleasing, brain-tinkering kind of way. That way now has a name, a name that is not as obvious as the one before.

GLASS TO GLASS is a (quaran)’zine documenting and serving as response to this global phenomenon we are now facing. And I am accepting submissions.

Anything you have come up with these past weeks, anything that acts as response, some beautiful moment you witnessed, some experience you never thought you’d have, a comic, a poem, a list of all the things you miss, a hyper-detailed recording of everything you’ve sanitized since the quarantine started; whatever you’d like to share, I will accept.

Send submissions to afieldofcrowns@gmail.com with something like ” ‘Zine submission ” in the subject line. For now this is a volunteer thing, created out of interest and desire to make. I’m investigating ways to fund the printing of it, and once this happens that volunteer thing will change into another thing.

Stay safe. Keep moving. Maybe take a moment to scribble out some thoughts. You never know what’ll come out.

– Andrew

CREATORS | ARTISTS | PERFORMERS | sweet residency opportunities @ hub14

The studio I work with, hub14 art & performance works has released their call for residency proposals.

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This call is suitable for anyone with a performance practice, emerging to established. The residencies range from research-based explorations (you pitch a compelling idea with a thoughtful plan & could receive up to 40 hours in studio to explore it without any demand of a final product from us), to three-day gallery pop-up installations (usually geared towards a visual artist working with performance or performers working with visual/installation art), community initiatives (discussions, classes/workshops, performance series, etc.) & even a live-in for artists outside the GTA.

The studio is based in Toronto, just around the corner from the Queen West & Bathurst intersection (very close to Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Rapier Wit & lemontree creations).

It’s one of the only programmes of its kind in Toronto and one of my favourite things to be part of each year. Seeing what you’re working on, hearing your voices, your passions, your ways of expression is a privilege I am humbled to experience.

That said, the hub14 team wants to support you & your art!

Applications are due July 6th @ 11:59pm. So get on that!

Check out the call here.

201819 SEASON RESIDENCIES

field notes.04 // Helen Donnelly & Neil Muscott

field notes.
episode 04 // Helen Donnelly & Neil Muscott
a foolish conversation about clowns

June 2nd, 2016
8:30pm
Sorauren Park

I catch up with my clown teacher, Helen Donnelly and her partner/director Neil Muscott to chat about clowns, flat tires, preconceptions, clown logic and realness.

helendonnelly.com
fooproductions.com
fooandfriends.com


reverend foo

The Reverend Foo Revival Time
playing June 8th, 10th & 12th at Factory Theatre
as part of the Toronto Festival of Clowns.

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