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Clown Through Mask

Suffolk Artlink’s Clown Round team recently participated in a Hocus Pocus Theatre hosted professional development residency ‘Clown Through Mask’ led by world-renowned clown teacher Sue Morrison visiting from Canada.

Sue Morrison’s unique work brings together the diverse elements of Indigenous Native American and European Clowning, developed from her time as protégé of Richard Pochinko and emerging from the idea that:

“If you ever faced all directions of yourself at once, you could only laugh at the beauty of your own ridiculousness.”

Lucy Enskat, Director of Hocus Pocus Theatre and Suffolk Artlink Clown Doctor said: “Over two weeks in April, working at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield, Sue expertly took us on a journey exploring physical and emotional worlds, colour, innocence and experience. We then embarked on the physical preparation work to make and wear two masks of the directions North One and South Two – there is a cycle of six masks representing the six directions of the self. For the experience of wearing the masks, both times, we took to the beach, the perfect setting for this liberating and surprising part of the journey.

From the mask experiences we defined a profound feeling to access, which together with elements of the childhood innocence explorations formed an emotional palette we could draw from. We identified what we wanted to say from the mask experience and how we were going to say it for a short clown performance or “turn” the next day, returning to using red nose, the smallest mask in the world. By this point we understood four key elements for clown to connect from the audience point of view: present yourself, take me into your world, transform me and bring me back with a new awareness.

Witnessing each of the group bravely stepping out and sharing their discoveries so authentically was a truly beautiful thing. Seeing the many colours of our humanness reflected back at us is such a profoundly, moving and hilarious thing. I honestly feel changed by some of what I witnessed in these culminating moments. Sue is an absolute master and inspirational teacher whose insights guided each of us to a new and deep awareness of our multi-layered parts that enrich the clowns’ presence and shine our own essence. What a privilege to work so honestly. And now we get to integrate this transformative, enriching work into what we do as therapeutic clowns, with children and families on the hospital wards, at Hospices and with the refugee communities.”

Hocus Pocus Theatre’s residency was funded by Arts Council England and supported by Suffolk Artlink.