Never Lose Your Clown

Never Lose Your Clown

Never Lose Your Clown: Reflections by Circus Performer and Clowns Without Borders Volunteer, A. Giovanni Zoppe Circumstance can profoundly propel the paths we walk. Circus defined the path of Clowns Without Borders volunteer, Giovanni Zoppe, of Zoppe, an Italian family circus since 1842. Giovanni was born into a circus family. His entrance into the world was in the parking lot outside the studio of WGW, where his father, Alberto, was performing his animal fantasy act for Bozo The Clown. Ever since Giovanni has been learning and perfecting his circus skills and performing across four continents. From Giovanni’s perspective, the difference between circus performer and the clown is that there is no difference. You learn all the skills of the trade when you grow up within the circus, and as you get older, you focus on your unique talent. Giovanni’s is bareback riding on horses, where he engages in spectacular and sometimes dangerous stunts. Whatever is happening in the show, Giovanni never loses his clown. The clown character does everything in the circus, and all skills channel through the clown for the performance. In February of 2016, Giovanni joined his first Clowns Without Borders project to El Salvador. Five artists and one logistician spent two weeks in the country. El Salvador suffers extreme violence. As violence increases, children’s access to basic human needs such as access to schools, essential health benefits, and safety has been significantly challenged. The team spent two days building the show they would share with people in various parts of the nation. After all, they had just met. The beauty of the show is that words...
CWBI

CWBI

Clowns Without Borders International (CWBI) Convenes! On May 23 to 26, 2016 the annual General Assembly for Clowns Without Borders International (CWBI) convenes in Ireland, outside Dublin at the Peace and Reconciliation Center. Representatives from each of the twelve chapters will come together during this exciting time. CWB-USA representatives are Sarah Liane Foster, International Representative, and Molly Rose Levine, Executive Director. While the annual meeting is an opportunity to connect professionally and make important plans for our future collaboration, it is also a family reunion of sorts. Artists and long standing members of Clowns Without Borders from across Europe and beyond pour in, and it’s a joyful event where the diverse, eccentric, charismatic group spill out of kitchens and gathers in giant round table discussions.   The fact that we’re all a bunch of clowns infuses our formal gathering with endless joy, and it is in this meeting that we see how much the value of laughter and positivity enhances any circumstance. Relationships are formed and ideas are given room to flourish. Past failures are celebrated and learned from for future success. Creativity and the shared values of love, laughter and service, adds a level of bonding and closeness that is rarely seen at professional events. A magic trick here, a cookie offered there, a song of peace shared over dinner. The clown world is inherently one of magic and joy. Forging New Partnerships CWBI was formed 5 years ago to help coordinate efforts among the chapters. CWBI establishes partnerships and support systems that will get more artists where they need to be – bringing laughter and joy to...
FUN-Raising

FUN-Raising

By Kolleen Kintz On Saturday, April 30th, from 1-5pm in the afternoon, about 25 friends, new and old, gathered in Baltimore, MD, for an afternoon to remember. The event was called Spring Fling with the Clowns! The mission was simple: have FUN! Baltimore resident, Alessandra Torres, graciously opened her beautiful home, providing a perfect atmosphere for community members to come together and celebrate Clowns Without Borders.   I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alessandra, who like Lucy Shelby (a Brooklyn resident who recently hosted a similar event in NY), is one of the incredible people opening their home and their heart to the clowns. These events, which are much more FUN-raisers, than FUND-raisers, provide an opportunity for CWB volunteers to foster meaningful and long-lasting relationships with new faces in the community. Not to mention, a chance for residents to show off their gorgeous homes.   My name is Kolleen Kintz, I have been a volunteer with CWB since 2011. There is nothing I love more than bringing together people I love for some GOOD TIMES. Unfortunately, my narrow Baltimore townhouse doesn’t fit more than a handful of those people at a time. I have an abundance of energy and ideas, but limited space to host. I needed a space where people could bask in the sunshine and enjoy having fun in the casual comfort of a home. Alessandra’s space did just that, setting the stage for a very successful Spring Fling! The spacious backyard allowed room for parachute games, hula hoop competitions, bubble parades, dance parties, and even a BOUNCY HOUSE! Guests made their own party...
To Clown, or Not to Clown

To Clown, or Not to Clown

By Jemima Evans Clowns Without Borders USA Guest Blogger   Why clowning? Imagine: A dusty refugee camp, people everywhere. People are crying, sleeping, and trying to get on with daily life. As if that is even possible. You are tired. You are not sure what is normal anymore. Life has been unkind and now you are waiting. You sit outside a dusty tent, surrounded yet alone. All the time you are waiting. Waiting intently for the unknown. Now envisage a soft red nose, a beaming smile, a man in a bright red striped shirt. You watch as he moves his body into peculiar and distorted forms. He laughs and you laugh with him. You feel a sense of warmth; hope even. Now put the two together. Seems bizarre, ridiculous even. But perhaps this juxtaposition is just what those people need. Why Clowning? Why not a version of Hamlet? As a performer, our priority is our audience, therefore first we must immerse ourselves into their world. How else can we expect them to join ours? We need to paint a picture that is relatable and takes on a universal language. For this, mime and physical theatre can be perfect. Our bodies are our tools. The children mirror our movements. Do we let them mirror our battle wounds too? I can only hope not. Clowns Without Borders focuses on ‘laughter, play and community cohesion’. It spotlights the young and creates a nurturing environment for adolescence. Of course, live performance can take many forms, including clowning: what is important is to take those civilians, soldiers, survivors into a new world, even if, for just a...
Finding a Place for Displaced Children

Finding a Place for Displaced Children

By Nadiya Atkinson Approximately 51 percent of the world’s refugees are children, fleeing from war and poverty-stricken areas of the world. Often without a home or adult guidance, these displaced children are the most vulnerable group of people in the world lacking protection and a certainty in their future. Kolleen Kintz, one of our performers writes, “The children always seemed to be without shoes, whether by choice or lack of ownership, I was not always sure. They wore clothing that was clearly donated, with its American cartoon characters on the front. They had one outfit, a daily uniform. I’m sure their mothers washed the clothes often, but they always seemed dirty from the intense climate.” “The children seem to be in a state of limbo, looking for something to do, something to play with. Mostly just waiting. I often wondered if it had to do with not being in their place of origin. If they had grown up with the water, did this arid, mountainous jungle see foreign to them? Perhaps their games had revolved around the water, and now they didn’t know how to play in the new environment.” Facing the lack of monetary, nutritional, and emotional support, displaced children are at an inordinately high risk of trauma, physically and psychologically. Kolleen shares more insight by explaining what she witnessed within a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece: “Instead, the homes felt sterile in their plainness and uniform nature. These communities felt grey to me. They did not have the liveliness or color of a community. There was no gathering, no celebration, no sense of pride in one’s home. Instead,...