Clown theatre: Long live the vulva that birthed us!
Since October 2020 I have been collaborating with another clown in developing a play from the whisper of an idea to a full blown theater production that has eight acts, runs over an hour and (to my surprise, delight and relief) the public likes!
It’s clown theater that breaks taboos about women’s sexuality, debunks stories and legends about female pleasure, and adds our voices to the growing global conversation about the importance of women’s sexual, emotional and mental health.
It is the largest creative project I have embarked upon, and I confess that during much of the development I didn’t have a clue what we were doing. But some how it has all come together. And this “thing” that my colleague, Maria, and I have created together has taken on its own life and, literally, now is center stage.
We’re just waiting now for it to grow up and start earning us some real money! Hahaha.
Seriously though we are grateful and pleased with the recent opportunities social projects like Inciativia Dàhlia, CEM Granja Julia and Casa de Patriax have provided in hosting the play.
It all started with a book
Carl Sagan wrote “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
That was certainly true for Maria when she read the book “Fruit of Knowlege: The Vulva vs. the Patriarchy” by Liv Stromquist.
I read the book too, and then lots more, researched on the Internet and talked to friends. All the while Maria and I met every Thursday from 10 to 12. Our clowns played around with the themes that were coming up and we video recorded our sessions. Maria reviewed hours of these videos and in a year she had the script.
Then it became a question of memorizing and rehearsing the script, making props, finding wardrobe, making an accompanying audio visual soundtrack and finding places to present the play.
In January we decided to work our way through the script, each week memorizing a new act and polishing our performance. We had hardly started when we got our first invitation to perform the play!
Clowns that we are, of course we said yes!
Our performance was part of a larger event, and we were given 90 minutes to do our part. The running time of the first three scenes is about 40 minutes and since we knew them more or less, we proposed that we would first perform acts 1-3 and then facilitate a second part which we called laughter therapy.
We considered it a success. No one left or heckled us. In fact, they laughed, seemed to enjoy themselves and paid us.
Encouraged, and even though we still hadn’t memorized the whole script, we started looking for more opportunities to perform. That’s clowns for you!
Lucky us, three more opportunities cropped up, and now we have performed the whole play a few times, we are getting better, people are responding positively and word is spreading.
A peek at the story line
I don’t want to tell you much because if you have an opportunity to see us perform, I don’t want to ruin any surprises.
But I will give you a brief sketch to stir your imagination.
In the opening acts we evoke human’s connection to the animal world and highlight the role of the sacred feminine in antiquity.
Next we expose the patriarchy, the second class status awarded to women and take on the medical community which for centuries has either ignored or completely gotten the anatomy of women’s genitalia wrong. Did you know it wasn’t until 1998 that the clitoris was fully mapped by Australian urologist Doctor Helen O’Connell?
In the last part we clowns assume women characters challenging the patriarchy in one form of another: giving personal testimony, subverting public space with feminist messages and celebrating feminism.
In between acts, when we are off stage preparing for the next, to fill time we have an audio visual track which references the themes we are touching upon. These spots are about 3 minutes long. Some of these videos are us as clowns that we made, and others are videos we found on the internet. At the end, I will include some links to give you an idea.
Oh, and there’s so much more to say! How this project has changed me, what I am learning about performing and how this little side project is (joyfully) taking over my life and taking me places I never imagined. But for now, I’ll just say I am the happiest I have been in a long time, and a lot of that is due to having greater contact with my clown energy and the initial indications that people are really keen to reflection on these themes collectively, and with us!
I’ll tell you more next time. For now, thanks for reading and long live the vulva that birthed us!
A few links of interest to “Long live the vulva that birthed us!”
Le clitoris – Animated Documentary
Hey Denise! Loved reading about the whole process of inception to performances! Well done you 2 clowns! Carl Sagan is one of my mom’s favorite people, she would hug you for quoting him. Continued success!!!