I was delighted last week, to come across the rope that Chris used during her clown workshops. I remember her buying it from a small chandlery near Lyme Regis. Designed for nautical use, the rope lies flat and doesn’t tangle. It’s used to delineate the boundary between the audience and the stage, where the everyday world ends and the world of the clown begins.
Stepping over the rope onto the stage is an invitation to embrace the possibilities that come from being fully present to whatever is and whatever happens. Don’t go on stage with a predetermined idea of what to do; don’t try to be interesting or funny. Breathe, feel, explore, allow the world to come to you.
Notice what happens when you don’t try to make anything happen. Be bold and generous (even when showing how scared and small you are). Clowns are whimsical, curious, sensitive, open to discovery, and wear their hearts on their sleeves. They say “Yes” to life and to death and to everything in between.
For anyone who knew Chris, it will come as no surprise that she was a natural and gifted clown. Some of our happiest times were spent clowning together at La Luna nel Pozzo, Robert McNeer’s theatre school in Puglia, Italy. I didn’t mind being in her shadow, it was so glorious to see her shine.
Chris’s genius was that she brought all those qualities that she so brilliantly exemplified as a clown into the rest of her life. She broke the rules and crossed the line.
“Clowning,” she once told me, “is the art of transgressing beautifully.”
Life too, perhaps?