Clowning in a Remote Community

I had to get up especially early today to teach clowning at 8.30am. I had a reasonably good sleep so felt energised. Leonie picked me up and I spent some time setting up.

The two junior classes were delayed so I practiced some juggling. I have a format for the workshop but often I change it as I go depending on whether I am connecting with the kids, how they are responding. I am very mindful of tailoring to what works.

The kids came in and I showed them a presentation of my world trip. My thought here was to open their minds to the world. These are kids in a remote area and very few have travelled further than Tennant Creek. I wanted to expand their vision and show them anything is possible. They loved the music.

I then pulled out my juggling clubs, my fire sticks, juggling rings and juggling balls. I have these very funny singing cow, singing flower and singing lion. The kids loved it. I danced along with the songs. I brought out my giggle stick, it is a head massager and I use it to interact, I also have a vibrating massager and gave them massages. They loved it and laughed at each other. In between I do a moon walk or I dance around. I tweak my nose and squeek my dummy (giant). I then brought out my whistle that goes high/low and pretended to be a bird and flapped my wings around the room.

I then got the kids to dress up in wigs and clothing and did a laughter/clown workshop. I taught them a bit of mime, funny walks, funny faces and what was really magic was that they were coming out of their shyness. The indigenous people I would call introvert, I myself am more of an extrovert, although sometimes I am introvert. So I understand they are not used to shining. I had them jump into the middle of a circle and do something crazy. The teachers were excellent and very involved they found my brightly coloured ribbon stick and called it a crazy stick. When it was wiggled over the kids heads the teacher said you have been touched by the crazy stick go crazy and they did. I loved to see them emerge and for me that was the highlight of the workshop. The workshop was really great and I was able to really connect with the children. It was a joy. The workshop went for 1.5 hours, which is longer than usual. I found the teachers particularly good and they managed behaviour.

I have to report something very funny. In the first workshop the day before a group of dogs tried to come into the room. There was about 6 of them patiently waiting, one tried to come in. I loved the fact the dogs wanted to join us.

The second workshop was with teenagers and it went very well for the first part. They loved the juggling, interactions and presentation. My friend Leonie was there who is an experienced teacher. Some of the older boys did want to participate but they had credibility, so they held back from getting into the dress ups. I can understand those difficult teenage years. However, I just played with them on the sidelines, trying to encourage them but I didn’t force them. The workshop went very well and when I found the energy breaking up a bit towards the end I concluded it with a circle. I thanked them for having me at Canteen Creek and that I would not forget them. That they are a beautiful people. I told them that being a clown was the most wonderful experience of my life and that all people are equal. What I see when i clown is that every person is beautiful. When I make others happy I feel so happy. This came from my heart to them.

I left the workshop very tired, as it is hard work. But I was deeply happy and the fact it was given for free is even more enjoyable for me. As it is truly a gift of love. I thought about the chances of ending up in the most remote community 300km south east of Tennant Creek. These children had not seen clowns but they were warm and welcoming to me. I got lots of photos of them and really enjoyed my time there.

The aboriginal ladies I met the day before said there is something magical about these places that they just draw people and they never leave. I certainly felt a call to be with the indigenous people and I was not disappointed. I felt I learned more about them and my affection for them deepened. I waved and smiled at the folks as we drove past in the car. I was deeply happy.

We left the town and saw the wild donkeys on the way out. We drove through the bright red road with the beautfiul green backdrop of trees, gums, bushes and grasses. We got to the next station 50km away and realised we forgot the bed spread that I used. We had to drive back (100km) round trip to pick it up. Leonie took it really well and didn’t flinch. She was truly an amazing host not negative or irritable, a real joy to travel with. I so enjoyed our conversations. She even told me on the way to Alice Springs there is a place which is considered the centre for UFO’s. Apparently many sighings, so I am definitely going to check that out.

On the way we saw a snake and I filmed it. It was funny the light was fading so our shadows were tall on the ground. We pretended to pat the snake with shadows. It was so beautiful the way it wound its way off the road.

We also so more scrub fires, so beautiful at night. We even saw some indigenous folks with a fire near their car, don’t know if they were camping or cooking. Only in the Northern Territory would you see this. On the east coast you would get a fine. I love the freedom of this place and I find these people fascinating. I worry for the violence in their community but I realise they are on a learning curve back to who they really are. Just as we are. So we all choose ultimately the world we want.

I am back at Leonie’s place in Tennant Creek and will head to Alice Springs. Made contact with some clown doctors there will try and get onto the flying doctor service. I aim to go to Uluru (Ayers Rock), it is 5 hours south of Alice Springs. Should be magical.

Anyway, I am tired, sunburned and quite exhausted. I am watching rainman which feels good. It is all about understanding difference.

Much love and peace to you. I am deeply happy. I love being a clown.

Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”