From the moment I read Brené Brown’s Women & Shame and saw her classic TedTalk speech, I was thrilled that someone else was talking about vulnerability. Finally. And on a very public stage.
I’ve spent the past 25+ years obsessed with the same vulnerability phenomenon and its inherent superpowers, only I’ve researched through a different avenue (albeit like Brown’s interest in storytelling). My method was theater. More specifically, the theatrical form of Clown. Yes, Clown. If theater reflects society for society’s sake, then Clown technique pierces straight to every individual heart in the audience. There’s a reason it’s known in theatrical pedagogy as Personal Clown. The trouble is – and my frustration boils because – U.S. popular culture believes that “Clowns are scary.”
Don’t laugh: I’m creating a podcast series around the question “Why are people afraid of clowns?” I ask counter-questions aplenty; I interview experts and laypeople alike. I tug at the threads of vulnerability, failure and fear, humor and beauty, to see how all connect in the tapestry of human experience. There’s a wealth of insight to be mined – a lot to unpack from theatrical clown technique, plus its vast cultural and historical evolution tracing back to early civilization’s shaman. This unique art form showcases and reflects our inherent wisdom, flaws, innocence, and medicinal magic. Maybe a shift in the public’s perspective will inspire collective courage.
My investment stems from a preschool-age moment where a delighted stranger’s laughter caused a lightning-fast, harmful ripple effect of embarrassed behavior, confused desperation, and unhealthy relationship patterns – all of which I’ve been sub- and consciously unraveling from my being as I age. I wonder if people are afraid of their own vulnerability (i.e. their Personal Clown), perhaps afraid of the power in embodying their wholeness. Brown’s research seems to support this theory, among others I’ve pondered. I wonder if this obsessive curiosity, to piece together the source and logic* of laughter, is my inner child’s lifelong quest. What conclusion will I uncover that might provide a satisfying peace of mind?
I feel vulnerable in advertising this work-in-progress. I’m still learning how to share as a vessel of abundant, potent ideas rather than guard them as precious and exclusive. Who knows, maybe all my years of notes, inquiry, practice, observation, Clown Labs, continued education, and gameplay would be fun and useful in a new collaboration. If so, I trust that you’ll communicate with me!
*The topic of “Clown Logic” is an entire department unto itself.
What a summer! Happy September! I have a lot of fantastic news to share, so get cozy. First and foremost, thank you for your participation in my life by way of reading my thoughts posted here. I hope you’ll also choose to receive what I offer via my live performances, too! As my dear late vocal coach repeatedly said from the moment I started training with him at age 13: “It takes two to tango!” (Rest in power, Victor).
Speaking of twos (and tangos), I am now the recipient of TWO “Best of Fest” Awards for my solo show The Two-Step
. I’ll perform a special encore weekend at 18th & Union in Seattle on Sept 27-29 (7:30 pm) and Sept 30 (3:00 pm)
, and I’d love to repeat the sold-out run I had in August at the Boulder International Fringe Festival. The show garnered three new awards in Boulder: “Best of Fest,” “Best Love Story: Past” and “In-Demand” for my streak of full houses. I’m proud of the rewrites I made this summer; the script finally feels finished. This revival is a hot ticket!
And speaking of revivals: The Moonshine Revival Tent
also returns to the stage at 18th & Union on October 4-6 (7:30 pm) and October 7 (3:00 pm)
to debut a new story inspired by the ol’ classic western musicals, plus we’ll revive an audience favorite “The Transformations of Herbert”. To enhance Bret Fetzer’s modern fairy tales, we sing original compositions by the illustrious Sari Breznau in 4-part a capella harmony. Family-friendly storytelling with live music!
Live music?! Yes! I’m writing a new script that features a cello as a character in A Captive Song
(working title). I have a few PWYC one-hour workshop readings scheduled this fall to keep the momentum moving and my creative fire stoked. Witness the script’s development on Fri Sept. 21 @ 7 pm, Fri Oct. 26 @ 7 pm, and Sat Nov. 10 @ 8:30 pm
– each at the Pocket Theater in Greenwood.
These are all of my scheduled onstage appearances for Seattle in 2018, and perhaps indefinitely thereafter! I’m taking a sabbatical from the many business hats of self-producing and performing in order to push myself in a new direction and focus exclusively on writing and teaching. Part of that push includes a commitment to the terrifying venture of posting blog articles here. Should you enjoy morally supporting young artists, my 3rd-5th grade theatre students will perform their rendition of The Boxcar Children (directed by moi) at 7 pm on Friday, January 11 at McDonald International Elementary School near Green Lake!
And now, the rest of my recent news: I’ve been granted a month-long creative residency in Italy in summer 2019, and I won’t return to Seattle as a resident upon its completion. I’m taking this opportunity to wander Europe and explore my cultural roots, particularly in France and Sweden. I plan to seek residency outside my ol’ Washington State comfort zone, either elsewhere in the U.S. or in another country. Therefore, this announcement is my first step in bidding a fond farewell to you all in the Pacific Northwest: my lifelong community and home base. I’m pouring my heart into these potential “Farewell, Seattle!” performances of 2018*, so I hope you’ll join me at each one in celebration of my era as a Seattle-based artist.
*I’m leaving room for possible winter/spring/summer gigs with my beloved ensembles of The Moonshine Revival Tent
and Lucia Neare’s Theatrical Wonders
. Keep an eye on the calendar page
for dates and ticket info!
That’s all for now! I’d love to hear from you, and especially to see you in person at one or several of these events. I hope this update finds you well with your summer’s transition toward the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere. May your winter solstice be equally bountiful as a time for reflection and growth. Wishes of blossoming intentions and new growth for you friends in the southern hemisphere!
With immense love and light,