Experiment #4 Clown Play
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...
Resisting the narratives of space
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.
Experiment #3: Clown Authority
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...
A Taxonomy of Action
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?
Experiment #2: Jumping through Hoops
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...
Planning an action...
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’.
Understanding the audience
Preparation for my upcoming Bristol workshop. The audience, ie. the unsuspecting public are an important consideration when planning our action. I have compiled some of Bim Mason's notes about street theatre and audience reception to create this schematic.
This inspiring image...
Instead of resisting, the clown collaborates; instead of obeying and hating,
the rebel clown mocks and slips away.
In my call-out on Facebook for workshop participants for Newcastle and Bristol I have had the biggest response to this photo with over 46 shares and 85 likes. It is from a fantastically inspiring book called 'Street Spirit' by Steve Crawshaw and shows protesters at the G-8 summit in 2007. For me this image reveals the power of subversion and gentle resistance the clown can bring. It also highlights a principle from Toolbox for a Revolution about putting targets into a decision dilemma. The negative reaction from the Riot Police to the clowns could mock their authority but to leave them there does the same.
Experiment #1: Nothing to Sea Here
Nothing to Sea Here is the outcome of my first workshop exploring the meeting point of circus, street theatre and protest and my first exploration of a methodology to take participants from a workshop to the streets. Click here to read more...
Creative research into the meeting point of clowning and activism
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, Jon Davison, Zuma Puma and Deanna Fleysha.
Robyn has collaborated with companies including Let’s Circus, The Sexual Health Circus and Whispering Wood Folk and performed with acclaimed physical theatre companies including, Derevo, Akhe, Oceanallover, and Gappad as well as her own award-winning company, Fun in the Oven Theatre.
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. She has also set up the Laboratory of the Un-beautiful; a collaboration with Deborah Antoinette Bard, exploring the bouffon & grotesque with womxn theatre makers.