Clown Research Experiments

Oct 17 2018

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Opening night of Clowns: the Eggshibition / photographer Joe Rosser

It's two weeks before I take my official position as Clown in Residence at The Bristol Museum. In preparation, I've been hanging out with the clown eggs, inside Clowns: the Eggshibition.

If you didn't already know, Bristol museum are currently hosting a large quantity of clown eggs from the clown egg register, along with costume pieces, archive film and photos and various clown paraphernalia. It's great there! The eggs are all beautifully housed with their own tiny little spotlights and there's loads of interactive stuff for kids (and clowns) to do. Here I am testing it out on opening night.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Joe Rosser

Bristol Museum asked me to create a programme of live events to bring the exhibition to life, all of which kicks off in October half term (dates and times here).

If you've read any of my blogs, you'll probably know that I love a bit of research! So along with offering family play sessions, a laughter yoga session and walking tours of the Egghibition for grown ups, I couldn't help but sneak in a little performance research of my own, carrying on where I left off in my Work In Progress project last year.

The performance research experiment I've designed for myself is: to perform 5 x one-hour improvised solo clown shows in the Eggshibition, from 11-12 every morning of my residency, (Half term: Monday 29th Oct, Tuesday 30th Oct & Thursday 1st November and Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th November) using the results of this online survey as starting points. There's still time, if you'd like to contribute your thoughts into the mix!

The survey asks 'what is a clown?' and 'what made you laugh this week?' Before asking for suggestions for costumes and props and things to do in the museum. I'm currently gathering a heap of props and costumes, inspired by the survey. My office is starting to look even more like a small child's bedroom / fancy dress shop than it usually does.

The plan is to set myself up in the Eggshibition, with a selection of props, costumes, play invitations and a red nose and see what happens. I'm thrilled to have the chance to practice what I preach and to support my on-going performance research, I've defined my 5 areas of exploration as:

  • Self Connection (Am I allowing my real feelings to come into the play?)

  • Connection With Audiences (When is it easy? When is it hard and why?)

  • Being Witnessed (Am I allowing myself to be witnessed without reaching for direct connection? How is that?)

  • Collaboratively Discovered Play (Am I allowing the audience to collaborate in creating and developing the games? What impact does that have on the quality of play / connection?)

  • To Speak Or Not To Speak? (What impact does each have on my quality of play / connection with audience?)

I'll be reflecting on these points after each performance, as well as gathering feedback from audiences and documentation from invited creative geniuses who will be writing, drawing, filming and photographing. I'll be publishing our concerted efforts here in blog land, so do drop by again and find out what we've been up to.

To read Holly's blogs from this research project click the red links:

The Flop = Failure and Failure = Death

Curiosity is The Key

Cultivating Receptivity to Increase Connection

For more info about Clowns: the Eggshibition click here.  

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