A giggle of clowns attempt to take back our public spaces
John Jordan’s work merges the imagination of art and the radical engagement of activism. He is a writer, lecturer, artist and activist. He set up C.I.R.C.A and works in the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination infamous for fermenting acts of mass disobedience. I found this fantastic video from him which outlines 16 Principles for creating beautiful trouble through art and activism. Watch here
A group of clowns 'lighten' the mood of a very serious festival
At festival of independent journalism I explored ideas of resistance through play. Click here to read more...
Today I met an amazing lady, Stefania Placenti, who has just completed her PhD in Italian theatre studies at Bristol. Her thesis dealt with the links between movements of protest and theatre in particular the occupation of spaces as a form of resistance, with reference to the Occupied Theatre Movements in Italy born in 2011. Her research covers a number of theatre occupations, examining the historical, socio-economic and political context in which these movements occurred.
An interesting section in her thesis examines the language the occupiers used to perform their protest. From this chapter I was inspired by their approach using their physical presence to resist. From being, to walking and then talking, each action begins to change the narrative of a space.
Our so-called public spaces are culturally defined, but by who? Is it a shared agreement? Are the public spaces in our cities actually public? It can be difficult to escape capitalist ideologies in the centre of Bristol, with advertising and shopping dominating our view and the narrative to buy more to feel better.
In my next workshops I plan to further explore public spaces, to examine the dominant narratives and then poke them with a stick.
A group of clowns try to instill authority and boundaries at a festival where there is none
Through a series of workshops at PLAY Festival I explored the ideas of resistance where there is little or no authority to oppose. Click here to read more...
I love charts and schematics. I found this in my search for definitions of political resistance in The Deep Green Resistance Book. Considering the scope and form of my research I am working in area of Education and Awareness Raising. Is it possible to move to the right along that axis towards to confronting and dismantling power without conflict?
Jumping through Hoops was a creative action depicting the 'hoops' society requires us to jump through to have access to basic rights, care and security. This was the result of revised workshop methodology that explored the meeting point of circus, street theatre and protest with circus performers and activists. Click here to read more...
In Barnaul, Russia, January 2012, cuddly toys protested the re-election of Putin and electoral fraud, taking the place of protesters who were arrested at previous demonstrations. The toys carried slogans like ‘I am for clean elections’ and ‘A thief should sit in jail, not in the Kremlin’. Authorities reckoned that the toys represented an ‘unsanctioned public event’ and their protest was banned. Police recorded slogans in their notebooks. The organiser stated that ‘We wanted to show the absurdity and farce of officials’ struggles with their own people’.
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)