Clown Congress 2023
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
The Clown Congress will take place this year in the Wickham Theatre at Bristol University between Saturday 28th and Monday 30th October with confirmed contributions from:
Quiplash Arts - exploring clowning made by disabled and neurodiverse artists
Fatina Cummings - discomfort and how to clown it - white and black artists working alone and together
Michelle Matlock - sharing insights from ‘The Mammy project’, which transforms an oppressive stereotype into a celebration of the power we gain from knowing and understanding our history.
The organising committee are now seeking additional proposals for contributions that address questions of clowning and identity. We welcome proposals from anyone with an interest in clowning: performers, practitioners, researchers (academic or otherwise), teachers and encourage you to distribute this call as widely as you can to your networks.
We envisage this as an event which can advance projects concerned with clowning and how this practice goes forward. For this reason, we are seeking proposals that enable inclusion of the full congress (between 20 and 40 delegates) in events. These could be in a range of formats, including exploratory workshops, focused discussions, open spaces, informal get-togethers and sharing individual projects and personal artistic experiences. We envisage timings for activities ranging from half an hour to ninety minutes, but will be open to proposals for longer activities where appropriate.
The questions we are asking ourselves about clowning at this time include:
- What potential does clowning hold for staging of our identities, of our hopes, anxieties and debates around who we are? Who (and how) are we as clowns in the world?
- Who am I when I clown?
- Who gets to clown? Clowning has often been dominated by privileged identities: we are interested in diverse ways of clowning that emerge from diverse identities and in continuing to explore the artform in ways that encourage greater diversity and inclusion? Who is included in that ‘we’ and how can this be widened and diversified?
- How do diverse identities clown together?
- How do we understand clowning? How do we expand our understanding of what clowning is beyond rigid dominant definitions? How do we cultivate diverse approaches that emerge from our diverse identities?
- How does the clown look globally?
- What is the difference: between clowns, between selves and between clown selves?
However, we also want to be as open as possible to YOUR ideas and The Congress will be organised according to the nature of the proposals included.
We encourage proposals which explore and challenge clowning practices from a range of view and particularly encourage contributions from more marginalised communities, such as PoC, trans, queer and disabled.
Please submit your proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org in writing by 31st August 2023 as follows:
- No more than 300 words please at this stage, to include:
- A title
- Brief description of activity
- How this addresses issues of clowning and identity
- Form of contribution, eg practical workshop, discussion
- Length proposed (from 30 -90 minutes)
Download Call Out as PDF
Robyn is a Bristol-based director, teacher and performer. With over 20 years experience she is a passionate practitioner of clowning, physical theatre, circus and street arts. She has a MA in Circus Directing, a Diploma of Physical Theatre Practice and trained with a long line of inspiring teachers including Holly Stoppit, Peta Lily, Giovanni Fusetti, Bim Mason, Jon Davison, Zuma Puma, Lucy Hopkins and John Wright.
Over the past five years she has been exploring the meeting point of clowning and a deep desire to address the injustices in the world. This specialism has developed through her Masters Research ‘Small Circus Acts of Resistance’, on the streets and in protests with the Bristol Rebel Clowns and in research residencies with The Trickster Laboratory.
Robyn’s Activist Clown research has led to collaborations with Jay Jordan (Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, France), Clown Me In (Beirut), LM Bogad (US), Hilary Ramsden (Greece) and international Tricksters; ‘The Yes Men’ (US).
During the pandemic in 2020, Robyn set up The Online Clown Academy with Holly Stoppit and developed a series of Zoom Clown Courses. Robyn’s research, started during her Masters, has been exploring the meeting point of clowning and activism, online, in the real world and with international collaborators. With this drive to explore political edges of her work she has also dived back into the world of the Bouffon; training with Jaime Mears, Bim Mason, Nathaniel Justiniano, Eric Davis, Tim Licata, Al Seed and the grand master Bouffon-himself; Philippe Gaulier.
Keen to explore the intersection of clowning and politics, Robyn is driven to create collaborative, research spaces, testing and pushing the limits of the artform to create new knowledge and methodologies for her industry and strengthen partnerships for future work. Some of her most recent collaborations and teaching projects have included the Nomadic Rebel Clown Academy (5-day Activist Clown Training), The Laboratory of the Un-beautiful (Feminist Grotesque Bouffon Training for Womxn Theatre Makers) and the Clown Congress (annual gathering of clowns, activists & academics collectively exploring what it means to be a clown in this current era)