What happened at Comic Storytelling School?
Jun 05 2018
Last week saw the birth of a brand new 5-day Comic Storytelling course. Using a similar structure to my degree course (minus the essays and live comedy assessments!), we began with red-nose non-verbal storytelling, before sliding into fantastical verbal impro and eventually landing into autobiographical storytelling.
Each participant crafted a 10-minute true story to tell to the group on the last day. The stories were hilarious, outrageous, tender, bonkers and beautiful and included a runaway parachute jump, a drunken night out with a bunch of sailors, a lost little girl trying to find her mum, a love-hate story about art, a tale of eye dancing and almost drowning in Bali, heartbreak in New York, the most embarrassing smear test ever, the saga of a tree top protest, a disappointing hair-cut, an unexpected sweat lodge and a hospital escape.
I was bowled over with the quality of the stories; each transported us to a fully fleshed out world, whilst creating space for us, the audience to interact in our own ways.
The evidence suggests that clown serves as a brilliant foundation for storytelling. Clowning is mostly about creating and maintaining an open and audacious connection with audiences (seeing and being seen), being able to spot and play the games that emerge and understanding how to use rhythm and breath to release laughter.
Layer on top of that, skills and confidence in verbal improvisation and you get clowns who can tell stories in direct connection with the audience, allowing the audience reaction to influence their choices moment by moment.
Then, for the icing on the cake, dollop on an understanding of how to eek out comedy from your own stories and what you'll end up with is clowns who can fully let the audience into their private worlds and share in their celebration of the ridiculous nature of being human.
Keep an eye out for this particularly juicy bunch of clowns and watch this space for the next 5-day Comic Storytelling course!
Here's a few shots from photographer Joe Rosser's hour at clown school. Enjoy!