Monday, January 24, 2011

ICHOF: Heading Down to Sarasota!

Fellow International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center board members Greg DeSanto, Sandy Weber and myself are off to Sarasota, FL today for the most exciting project in the hall's history.

We are beginning an oral history project, meeting with several performers and their families over the next four days and recording their memories for posterity.

It's a project that is long overdue and one that I wish the hall had begun at its inception. Circus clowning is a rapidly changing American folk art, the history and culture of which has sadly gone without being properly preserved.

Bright and early tomorrow morning we go about correcting that!

If you are in the Sarasota area, PLEASE join us on Wednesday night for a meeting discussing the ICHOF's past, present and future at the Showfolks of Sarasota club.

We'd love to see you there!


Howard Wahlberg said...

Pat and Greg et. al: I applaud this effort, and agree it is long overdue. Dominique Jando has made great inroads with circopedia, but the added dimension of oral histories will capture key elements of circus clowning that no encyclopedia can.
I do wonder, though, at the phrase "folk art," inasmuch as I wonder how "American circus clowning" has now been influenced, for quite a few generations now, by the work of schools such as LeCoq in France, and how some of that work has found its way to places like the d'ell Arte school in Blue Lake, California, and of course Cirque de Soleil. I saw Eric Davis perform his "Red Bastard" show at the Warehouse Theater in DC (same place as the DC Clown Cabaret) and was sufficiently blown away by the power of his performance. Whether or not it is classified as clowning, stand-up, a visit to a psychiatric ward, or some combination of the three is up to the interpretation of the audience member, I suppose, but in terms of gathering oral histories, it would seem to me prescient to attempt to gather similar material from non-American sources that are playing such a seminal role in shaping the next generation of clown performers working in the US. Thoughts?

Pat Cashin said...

Collecting other histories, from outside the US? Absolutely!

But each journey must start with a single step and the best place to start is in your own backyard.

The trip to Sarasota is just the start of a project that will, hopefully, never end. The more oral histories, performance video and artifacts that we preserve, the more nuanced a concept of clowning we leave for future generations.