When you are on the path of creating a show – playing is a great start. I have found myself asking where does one begin? A grand question. A bit like asking what came first – the chicken or the egg. What I suggest is you don’t allow yourself to be to distracted by this very important question, instead play with ideas, routines, and scripts and discover the character that comes out to play while asking who am I.
You may (or may not) have experience and training in acting where you have learned to act out multiple characters but when scripting your own show or exploring what best suits you can often serve to be confusing to the inspiring performer.
Most dramas or shows acted out on stage do so in a third dimensional way. In other words, it is a performance that the audience can simply watch and enjoy but not necessarily interact with the characters on stage even though they may relate to them. It is called breaking the fourth wall when a character in a show directly interacts with members of the audience or the audience as a whole.
Comedians are a classic example of this. Their humor is sometimes directed straight at the audience. Perhaps the comedian is expecting his audience, to relate to what they are saying through comedy.
I have often been invited to events as a keynote speaker and my audience are not passively observing a performance. Instead, they are part of an entertaining, empowering message as I interact with them with the sole aim to mobilize them to take positive action in their lives and business.
Magicians and magic acts appear to be split on this. Take for example a classic illusion show – it could be a wonderful performance such as the Lance Burton Dove act – but this is a performance that the audience observes and watches from the safety of their seat. Compare this to John Archer – Comedy Magician where he interacts with his audience with his hysterical funny show.
In my mind, its takes a greater degree of skilled performance to break the fourth wall and to break it well! For the most part, a well-seasoned street performer often does exactly that. There are a number of well-known street performers that I can mention who do this well – Billy Busker (old-time performer) Cellini, Eric Evans, Gazzo, Master Payne, Jimmy Talksalot, James James to name but a few.
My own Street show breaks the fourth wall from the start to the very finish with my own take on the classic Cups and Balls perhaps described best by Master Payne – the Magician “…Mario is a consummate entertainer with a unique, engaging, and highly entertaining act that can best be described as a quintessential busker with a contemporary twist. As a cup and ball worker myself, it was refreshing to see a fellow performer put his own spin and voice into this classic routine. Marios performances are clever, captivating and will keep you on the edge of your seat”
Who Am I?
This is a great place to begin. Ask yourself honestly this question. Do study other performers styles and techniques or routines and explore and play with your character. But at the end, after you have exhausted all the inspiration you may find you have done a full circle and find yourself back at the beginning again and asking yourself this very important questions – Who Am I?
Clowning is far deeper than it is first perceived with classic red noses and makeup. Before you chuck the baby out with the bathwater – look again. True clowning is a very deep discipline that if explored correctly will get you to look at yourself for who you really are and may hurt and you may not even like what you see. This is a great starting point.
(Above caricature by Dani Di Placido)
Three modern day Clowns with the make up on –
- The White Face – a serious perhaps a little conservative character who is honestly bland;
- The Augustine – over the top prankster always wanting to be the center of attention and often does not get on with the white face;
- The Tramp or Hobo – at the grass roots of society this one sees it all and can relate to all but often clashes with authority.
With no make on, look at yourself in the mirror. Even if you don’t like what you see and ask yourself once again – who are you? Which out of these clowns can you best relate to? You see a great way to discover a character is to discover you! The more you learn about yourself the more you can exaggerate this character in your performance. The more you look at yourself the more you will accept yourself and like yourself.
- You are unique in every way – there is no other character like you on this planet;
- Have fun to explore your character – what makes you laugh, what do you enjoy;
- Be real with this character – what makes you sad, cry or even angry
- How does this character behave, move and talk
- What do feel passionate about
- What will complement your character – in regard to magic, routines, clothes;
- Accept and embrace your whole character – warts as well
Don’t hammer a round peg into a square hole – I have seen performers – myself included – trying to copy someone else when they don’t know who they are.
Be true to yourself and you will be an outstanding performer – after all, you are unique.
There are some excellent Clown and My Schools out there. If you want to find out more drop me a line.