The Congress kicked off with a one-day workshop offered by Portuguese clown, Eva Ribeiro. A friend and prolific clown & activist, I had met Eva online during my Activist Clown Co-lab Series in February. At her invitation I went to Porto to deliver my Activist Clown Weekend. Continuing our conversations on the political possibilities of clowning I invited her to join us at the Clown Congress. This was also a chance to see elements of her own practice in action.
12 lovely clowns joined us on a gorgeous sunny Sunday in the grounds of the Estate to explore Clown Diving in Nature. It was a gently-led invitation to tune into our senses, tap into our intuitive selves to play and respond to nature. Each sense; sight, sound, touch was explored with the playful, lightness of the clown. The day culminated in solos, duos, trios and group presentations by clowns responding site-specifically to the woodland.
The day was a welcome opportunity for all participants to step out of our everyday experience of the world, letting anxiety drop away and a child like curiosity take the lead. It was a really beautiful way to start the Congress.
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)