Sunday, December 9, 2007

How GreenPeace's "Whale Mail" Could Be So Much More!

I was recently browsing GreenPeace's “Get Involved” menu and saw a link to an action called “Whale Mail.”

My first thought was “That's absolutely brilliant!”

I envisioned “Whale Mail” as GreenPeace's way of providing email to its users. I figured Greenpeace was giving all of their members an email address that ended in “” The reason I thought this was a brilliant move on GreenPeace's part is because it would be a great way to engage me in spreading the word about their “save the whales” campaign. Imagine if I sent all my mail from And at the bottom of every message I sent – Greenpeace included an update on the whale campaign and how you could get involved. All of my friends and family would learn about GreenPeace's campaign and would be invited to join it. They could also open an email account with Greenpeace and start spreading the word in their own social networks. Greenpeace's “Save the Whale” campaign could spread virally through what is still considered the killer app – email.

Unfortunately, when I clicked on Greenpeace's “Whale Mail” feature – I found out it was just a niche Greenpeace newsletter that you could subscribe to “get regular updates and information about how you can help defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”

Interestingly enough, Greenpeace does offer an email service, except they charge $6.99 a month for it. I found it difficult to sign up to get my “” email account for a 15 day free trial – and just as difficult to find reviews.

As online storage prices get cheaper and cheaper – GreenPeace could capitalize on their pre-built infrastructure by giving away their email feature for free! More specifically, they could raise a lot more awareness about their issues and potentially raise a lot more funds by adding a “Donate Now” button to the bottom of every email that was sent through its service.

One reason MyGreenPeace might not take off even if it was free is because people don't really want to switch their email accounts. It's kind of like asking someone to switch their physical address – and that's asking a lot! If Greenpeace would want to get their users to switch email accounts, they'd have to make this process as simple as possible. They'd have to offer instructions for how to get your old email to forward to your new address. They'd also have to help their users transfer their address books. And most importantly, they'd want to make it easy for their users to access their email outside of the website.

Greenpeace aside, any nonprofit could use this approach to spread their campaign and engage their constituency. It's certainly not limited to saving the whales ...

Perhaps some nonprofits or grassroots groups are already using this approach? Are there any success stories? Any lessons learned? Please share in the comments.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why Your Nonprofit Should Make A Viral *Music* Video!

What makes a video marketing campaign "viral?"

Monica Hamburg
recently wrote an article which is a crash course answer to this question. She quotes The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing:

any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.”

In other words, a viral video is one that compels me to share it with my friends, and then compels my friends to share it with their friends, ad infinitum. Potential = Huge.

So, the question that begs to be asked is: What makes a video so compelling that I want to share it? What is it about a video that compels me to spread it through the social web -- that compels me to add it as a favorite on Youtube, compels me to post it on MySpace or Facebook, or compels me to write about it on my personal blog?

The general consensus is that that a video which is compelling enough to go viral is exceedingly funny or clever.

What's wild, though, is that if you look at the top videos on YouTube itself -- you'll notice that the great majority aren't just funny or clever. They're also music videos! And if they're not music videos, they almost always have a strong soundtrack that plays a vital role in the mood & meaning of the video. Music is key to their virality.

Interestingly, I've checked out a lot of the top videos and while they have gotten tens of millions of views and are clearly viral, I don't find them at all compelling. They were obviously entertaining enough for many people to share with their friends -- but they weren't compelling in the true sense of the word. If you feel compelled, then you feel like you absolutely must do something. And these videos didn't come close to making me feel like I absolutely had to pass them along...

What would compel me to spread a YouTube video? If there was something at stake. If spreading the video would make a difference in the world.

And that's where the nonprofit community comes in.

The nonprofit community is composed of organizations which focus on a wide array of issues in which everything from genocide, rain forest destruction, and child trafficking are at stake. These are huge and important issues - many of them with life or death consequences. And it is because there is so much at stake when it comes to the missions of these organizations, that they can create videos which are inherently compelling. People feel compelled to spread these videos because by doing so, they're building awareness and making a difference.

While the nonprofit community has created many great videos about social issues, the music video genre, which has proven to be the most viral, remains largely untapped by this sector. As previously discussed, creating a music video is key if you want to have a hugely successful viral video. People like music videos and if you can wrap a social cause around dancing, singing, & a good beat - you're far more likely to get your message spread through the web. There is a lot of space here for creativity as well as risk – although the potential exposure for social causes could be bigger than anything we've ever seen before!

Got a video that you think fits this description? Submit it here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

my first advertisement!

A result of an awesome AdHackUp* about a week ago @'s headquarters in Vancouver, BC.

*AdHackUp - where a bunch of people come together to make unsolicited ads for businesses that they believe in or otherwise think are great. In this case, well, the bagels were pretty good!

Our Team: James Sherret, Monica Hamburg, & Me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Interested in Contributing to the Rayt project?

Rayt Developers Wanted

From: JoeSolomon, 44 minutes ago

Examples of how Rayt warnings can be used to inform the public and encourage companies to be more socially responsible. Plus an announcement that we're looking for programmers to take Rayt to the next level.

SlideShare Link

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Clown & Web 2.0

I recently arrived in Vancouver (from San Francisco) to visit my girlfriend for a bit. Because I'm a US citizen, I had to go through customs and get questioned by a customs agent. Here is a snippet of the dialogue ...

What do you do in San Francisco?

I'm a marketing consultant for a few web 2.0 start-ups.

What are you doing in Vancouver?

I'm visiting my girlfriend.

Where'd you meet your girlfriend?

In a clown workshop in Toronto.

At this point, the customs agent looked up, focused, as if he had caught me in some kind of lie (or worse, a trap).

What's someone involved in marketing doing taking a clown workshop?

Do you really want to know?


Are you sure?

Yes, I want to know.

Ok, well, here goes nothin' ...

And that's when I explained the link not between clown and marketing but between clown & web 2.0 - hoping I'd still be allowed across the border. Ever since I finished taking Sue Morrison's Intro to Clown workshop last January, I've been struck by the metaphors between clown & the world around us. In particular, I've been both flabbergasted & inspired by how the values of the world of theatre clowning I had experience in Toronto intersected and shed light on the world of Web 2.0 I had then immersed myself in in California.

I asked the Customs Agent if he knew what the term "Web 2.0" meant.

He said, "Not really."

I said, "'Web 2.0' is basically a buzzword that's been applied to the new web -- the web that has emerged from the last dot-com bust, with new technologies & philosophies that offer a ton of new possibilities, both online & off."

The Customs Agent said, "Go on."

Then I went on to explain that Web 2.0 is all about helping people connect. Sue Morrison had always defined moments of clown as being those where audience and performer truly connect. In that ether between audience and performer - in that space - in that moment of true eye contact. You could say clowns don't exist, they exist between.

With Web 2.0, it's the same thing. We exist where we connect with others. Web 2.0 has given birth to an explosion of social networks - most innovative among them is Facebook. Facebook is famous for having almost obliterated static profiles and instead having replaced these with dynamic ever-changing "News Feeds." Your Facebook News Feed is a series of public announcements of how you've interacted with others on the network. Your News Feed constantly changes as your write on your friend's wall or attend an event with other Facebook users. So on Facebook, as represented through your Facebook News Feed, your entire existence is defined by these moments of connecting with others.

Then I offered a brief explanation to the customs agent about how transparency is rampant in both a clown show and in Web 2.0. You almost always know how a clown is feeling when they're performing. Clowns train to be as emotionally naked as possible. If they're sad, you'll see it. If they're angry, you better watch out!

Web 2.0 has enabled anyone and any group to be as transparent as they want. This is most aptly scene in the Web 2.0 phenomenon of blogging. Blogging, or the act of writing blogs, is akin to writing an online journal for everyone else to read. Millions of blogs are created every day and many people are using them to share their darkest secret, to be open about their inner feelings, or just write about what they did today. In fact, many business coaches try and convince CEOs and business owners to blog as frequently as possible. Being transparent is the new “in” as it can create numerous competitive edges for businesses & companies both small and large. Wired magazine's cover for their April issue had the heading “Get Naked!” and Clive Thompson (the writer of that issue's feature article "The See Through CEO") has even written on his personal blog: "The only way to improve and buff your reputation is to dive in and participate. Be open. Be generous. Throw stuff out there -- your thoughts, your ideas, your personality."

I then wrapped up a quick description of how clowns and Web 2.0 both embrace collaboration. A clown show is literally created between a clown and her audience. Clown shows don't generally have concretely written scripts. Rather, a show is more like a map a clown navigates with the audience. The NY-based clown, Eric Davis, is known for bringing his audience onstage with him, going into his audience to involve someone in his show, or asking a surprised theatre-goer a barrage of questions, whose answers could change the entire course of the performance. His teacher (and mine), Sue Morrison used to say, “There's no such thing as a one-man clown show!” -- implying that every clown show needs its audience to even exist.

Web 2.0 is the same thing. A wide array of web sites that have been born in the new Web 2.0 bubble bring people together not just for the sake of coming together – but to create something more. Wikipedia is the obvious example. This is a platform where anyone can create and contribute to the world's free encyclopedia. Wikipedia wouldn't exist without its users and continues to grow as more people use it and contribute. Flickr is another platform where people have created the world's largest photo library by uploading their personal photo collections. Many Web 2.0 technologies in particular also enable real-time online collaboration – ranging from web conferencing, interactive whiteboards, & the unlimited collaborative possibilities in virtual worlds like Second Life.

The customs agent seemed a bit bored by this point, as if he was expecting an entirely different answer involving undercover agents and a huge international clown bust. He handed me back my passport and said “You're good to go.”

I took my passport, quickly added that both clowns and web 2.0 websites are always in perpetual beta, and walked across the border.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Shakin' It Up

I just posted a new blog - except I posted it somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Getting Out Of My Own Way

Click Here For A Mysterious Epilogue That Was Originally Meant To Be Read As A Prologue =-)

Screwing Up The Clay.

A week or so into the workshop we all lined up to be handed a slab of clay from Sue.

Sue literally had these towers of heavy gray clay which she divvied up by taking the kind of lace they attach to balloons and wrapping it around the top two or three inches. She'd then pull on it in opposite directions, easily slicing off a thick, moist, flattened cube. We took this and then chose a square of particle board to work on and found a place to sit. Then we took the clay and smoothed it around a plastic bag that was full of crumpled newspaper. It was clear why were doing this - to create the foundation of the eventual mask - to create a clean slate to build upon. The reason(s) behind the rest of the stuff we were about to do, that was still up for grabs.

Sue was then going to guide us through an exercise that included elements of others we had been working on the week before involving letting our bodies interpret different colors.

After everyone finished smoothing our their clay, most of them looking like the top of these eerily featureless three-dimensional ovals. Like a mannequin must look like before it gets its face printed on in the factory. Done, we all stood up and gathered in a circle. The mask that we were about to make was called One North. This was mask one of six. To face all directions of yourself at once, to see yourself from every angle, we had learned that this was the goal of clown.

Now we had to get our bodies to embody One North before we actually touched the clay. The mask was already inside us, already existed, now all we had had to was bring it out. To let our hands uncover its features. Or something like that. All I know is that we weren't supposed to have pre-conceived notions of what our masks would look like. We couldn't come to class that morning, for example, thinking today I'm going to make a happy mask and for my next one I'm going to make a sad mask. Or an angry one. We weren't even supposed to think about making a mask at all. All we had to do was follow our impulses. To assist with this, after we embodied the mask's sound in our bodies, from the moment we laid our hands on the clay to actually sculpt it, we would have to have our eyes shut for the entire process.

All of us standing in a circle, dried clay flaking off our fingers from all the smoothing we had just done, Sue guided us with something very similar to this:

"Put your feet on the floor. One North. The breath for One North is you breathe in through your mouth and out through your asshole. Yes. Let's do that. Breathe in your mouth and out through your asshole. Now choose a place somewhere in your body to make an opening to invite your Clown Gods in. To give yourself permission to take this direction. To be in One North. And it's happening. It's already happening now. Breathe. Good. Breathe. In through your mouth and out through your asshole. No associations with anything literal in One North. It's just a direction. It's just some words...."

Then Sue would walk around the outside of the circle, and would rub each student's back. More of a circular wipe than a rub, it was as if your back was being cleared of whatever image was there previously. Then she'd use her finger to spell first the number "1" and then the letter "N." She then blew a wisp of air between your shoulder blades. You felt this and then you were free to walk away, to move through the space with the breath of One North running through your body.

"One North in your feet and in your ankles. One North in your calves and in your knees. Breathe in through your mouth and out through your asshole. Everything is in One Movement. You don't have to push. You don't have to work harder, you have to work softer. One North. Breath. One North. You need to get out of the way so One North can fill the body up. Good. In our feet and ankles. Calves and knees. One North. Small of the back. Between the shoulder blades. Explore all possibilities. Whatever you come upon, you do it. Indulge yourself with whatever that is! Good! Beautiful! Beautiful everybody!

"In your hips, in your breath, in your chest. In your crotch, in your bum, in your genitals. Exactly! Good! Let it happen!"

By this point, everyone was moving through the space in very different, unique ways. To give an idea, for all these exercises, there's usually one person who cowers and is completely out of it, another who runs across the floor with life or death zeal, another who dances with abandon, and then someone who walks really really slow. It changes up. But at no time does anyone's movements ever look anywhere near exactly the same as someone else's. For this one, my arms were stretching into the air, pointed, the way gymnasts do when they warm-up. The way I saw it the air was coming through my mouth and bursting out my ass, pushing me higher and higher. Jumping between breaths to reach the ceiling, I had no idea if I was doing this exercise right but having really messed up Creator & Masterpiece, the least I could do was give it a chance.

"Now drop into a crouch and add the sound."

We had been told how to make the sound to this mask in advance - it was the same as its name - "One North." When it came time to say it out loud, though, we had to follow it with "Feh. Feh." Sue explained that we used one "Feh" to match each syllable of "One North." To make sure our abdomen was bound up in the exclamation. To get more of our body devoted to being one with the sound. So that however you said it, the words would always come out in this order, "One North. Feh. Feh."

"One-North. Feh. Feh. That's it! One-North. Feh Feh. Perfect! One-North. Feh. Feh. Yes! Thank you! Thank you!"

Once you thought your body was more or less aligned with "One North" you were supposed to wander up to Sue to have her check out what you were doing. If she told you you were good or gave you a super compliment like "Excellent!", you could go mold your mask.

After Sue had checked my movements, (I was good) I quickly made my way back to my clay and shutting my eyes as instructed, went to work. My hands on the cool moist clay the first thought that came to my head was to elongate the top of the oval outline I had made previously. That felt like it symbolized how I felt stretching in the air. North-like. Except it came out like a cute little top-hat. From there I started to build this ridge along the entire edge of the mask. When I got to the upper left and right side it just felt natural to pull outwards on the ridge, creating what felt like these cartoon character ears. Then I went in the middle and mushed together a nose. It was at this point I envisioned the mask looking like a standard clown face. Then it dawned on me that this was the exact thing that we were not suppossed to do. I suddenly felt really guilty because I realized I was building my vision of a mask and not letting my hands just do their thing. I kept at it, though, trying to reconcile the smile that I had irrevocably built into the clay because of the upturned curve on both the top and the bottom. Already, I really didn't like this mask but if I was going to make a cliche clown mask, at the very least I didn't want it to be a happy one. The thing was, though, that there was no way to make this guy frown! Even when I added a gentle upside down "U" it just made him look like he had this big gaping mouth. My eyes still closed, my fingers struggled to find a way to undo the clown face. To start over without really starting over. Finally, I settled on making the mask assymetrical and split his big mouth in two with another wavy ridge. He still seemed to scream happiness although it did make me feel a little better.

I was one of the last ones to finish. Getting up, my eyes now open, I went over to Sue who was finishing a lesson on what to do next. This included slathering the clay with vaseline and after that tearing and applying small pieces of newspaper alternating with brown paper lunch bags to build the layers of paper-mache.

I was a bit intimidated by the designs of other peoples' masks:

Walking around, I was immediately awestruck by Christina's mask in particular. She had studied at the School of Dell Arte and was a professional mask maker from San Francisco. The contour of her mask was flawless and its sole feature, a serpent that slithered up its center and whose triangular head exceeded past the top, was extremely powerful.

I told her how I thought hers was really awesome and she said thank you. I then told her how all I could think of was a silly clown face. Nose and all.
And she said something like, "That's totally fine - that's where you are and wherever you are is perfect."
And I said, "I don't know, I don't think I really listened to the instructions."

The other mask that really caught my eye was Gabriel's, who was sitting on Christina's left. His final product looked like all he had done was mush his fingers around in the clay until they had had enough and then called it quits.

His mask was completely non-descript and at the same time still full of so much potential. I felt like his was one of the only masks that was made with the instructions in mind. As if he just let his hands be the representatives of his body, free to do what they wanted without any thoughts or vision in mind. Not a mask as much as a free-associated creation of his hands that would eventually be worn.

The Paint Job.

A few days later, the paper-mache had dried and with various degrees of difficulty we pulled the clay out. With the hollow that the absent clay created, for the first time we could start to get a feel for where our faces would fit and how this really was going to become a mask we could wear. We then painted our masks with a foundation of acrylic white paint. Once the white paint had dried, it was time to add the colors.

To do this, we all had to find a spot in the space to lie down on. On thick gymnastics mats, on the carpeted stage, or on old couch cushions. It didn't matter. Next to each of us was our mask, a water color tray, a cup of water, and at least one paintbrush. We also had a piece of drawing paper with an outline of our mask with all its curves and ridges and some kind of writing utensil.

Similar to the process we had to go through before we could mold the clay, we had to be put under again before we could add any colors. I say "put under" because that's what it sounds like. But really, it doesn't feel like that at all. It doesn't even feel like day-dreaming. It just feels like relaxing for a few minutes before trying to relate to whatever Sue was about to ask to imagine. All of us lying down in the space, our eyes naturally closing due to the bright stage lights overhead, it was easy to forget where we were. To maybe leave our bodies or find another way to drift away. That, however, was not the point.

"Take a moment to feel yourself arrive here in this space. We want your body on the floor and in the space...You feel the total unconditional support of this floor under your body... You don't have to hold anywhere because the floor will hold you...Your skin will hold you...This skin thing holds you all together -- It's very nice and well-designed...

"Now make a space between your bones and feel that space loosen. Every place where your bones meet, feel that space loosen just a little bit. Feel yourself stretch. And make a little opening somewhere in your body. Let your clown gods in. Give yourself permission to experience this thing...

"Now take your colors through your body. You want there to be like a sun over your body. A very hot, warm sun. And there's going to be a beam of red light that's going to come down from the sun. It's going to touch your body. Connect to your body somewhere. Perfect red light. Your own perfect shade of red. However you see it, feel it, think it. Red. Bones, breath. Good. Inhale. Exhale. We receive the red, we exhale the red. Belly. Transforms itself to orange. Orange bones, breath. Vibration. Orange - inside, outside. Tongue, bones, feet...Transforms itself to yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow ears, cheeks, bum. Yellow knees...

This would go on through four more colors: blue, green, indigo, & purple. Until finally we were awash in white. Whenever we were ready we could sit up and with our eyes closed move our hands over the mask. When we felt a color in our fingertips, we were supposed to write it down on our mask's outline. Then go back to the mask and search for more. Until we thought we were done.

What Sue had said was:

"We don't look at it like, 'Oh, It would be nice if this was a nice sky blue with a hint of rose.' It's what this is going to feel like..."

The thought passed through my head that I might not be able to pull this off. I wondered what would happen if when I touched the mask, I wouldn't be able to feel any colors at all. But that's actually the opposite of what happened. When I first touched the mask, I felt a color right away. It just happened to be the one color in the one place I didn't want to have anything to do with.

The first part of the mask I touched just happened to be the center - where the nose was. And the first color that came to my mind was red.

I already had a really bad relationship with my mask. While making the six layers of paper mache over the past day or two, I still couldn't reconcile that I had made a happy clown face. I was here to take a workshop on theatre clowning, not circus clowning. And a perfectly positioned unmistakably globular red nose would definitely get in the way of that! If only I had focused a little bit harder on the original instructions...When I touched the mask again, I placed my fingers back on the nose and told myself to focus. Maybe red was just me messing with myself. Or maybe just because it's the natural first thought and I should have been more prepared to let it go. It didn't take long before I swore I felt another color. Indigo. I immediately imagined what the nose would look like with that color and this felt like a dark, dreary, depressed clown. Too postmodern. Wait, but I'm not supposed to imagine what the colors would like. To let go off any vision of the final product. Ok, ok. What about a compromise? Violet. Sure.

The nose wasn't the end of my problems. Figuring out the rest of the mask, I spent so much second-guessing myself that people were already starting to paint when I was still stuck deciding on if my fingers were sensing green or blue. Was the ridge really all one color or was that just me looking for order? I think the eye-shield is yellow but that feels like something that would've gone with a red nose, not really a violet. Shoot. I kept snapping my eyes open to write colors down on the paper outline of the mask, only to write other colors right over them when I'd feel a different one on a separate run. Eventually I just opened my eyes and started painting. I looked at my map of the mask to guide me but it was completely useless.

I knew to paint the nose violet but when it came to the rest of the mask the only thing I could do was imagine what those colors should be without thinking about them aesthetically. I actually made an attempt at doing this before I realized that that was impossible.

After painting the eye-shield so many different colors that no matter what I did I couldn't get rid of the resulting brown, I gave up.
This is as far as I got:

Staring at my mask, I knew that giving up in the long-term wasn't an option I could take. I had already come so far - geographically speaking at the very least. I needed to give myself a second chance.

One of the girls in our class came up to me and saw me staring at my mask. It might have been Christina again but I can't remember. She told me she thought my mask was wild, and seeing all the white, asked if I was finished with it.
I said, "Not really. I'm just going to do it again."
She said, "You mean finish it later?"
"No, just put on another layer of white and start over."
"But you can't do that."
"You don't understand, I wasn't paying attention. I did a lot of things wrong. A lot of my colors were off-topic. My thoughts were all over the place!"
"But those were your thoughts so it's fine."
Maybe her mind wasn't so muddled that she couldn't relate. So I took my argument in a different direction: "My eyes, they were open for a good chunk."
She smiled, perhaps embarrassed for me. "Oh..."

I waited for the water colors to dry and then when class was over took what I now equated with a large bottle of white-out and began to undo my mistakes.

Mart was sitting at a table that was close by and feeling guilty, I went out of my way to explain to her what I was doing.
After I was finished, she asked, "Are you going to tell Sue?"
Not having really though about this, I instinctually said, "No."
She then she said, "Why? Because you're pretty sure she'd say don't?"
"Well, yeah."

Once the entire mask was covered in white, I took it and a clean piece of drawing paper to the back of the theatre. I also brought all the necessary water color stuff. I went up the stairs on the right and then went behind the huge black curtain which was draped over the stage. Behind the curtain, I was shrouded in darkness and all alone. All of which was perfect for what I was about to do. I laid down on the floor and shut my eyes. Then I ran all the colors through my head. Sue's meditation in an express version. Red in my bones. Transforms to orange. Yellow in my entire body. Blue belly. Green teeth. Flooded in indigo. Cells shining in violet light. I could do this. I wanted to feel colors. I was fine with my sense of touch giving way to sight. Or not. However this worked logistically, I was open and ready to just experience it. And the thing was, I was able to do this before. Now I just had to be less critical of myself. To let the colors come as they would and just write them down. And then move on.

I got up and sat cross-legged. I searched the floor with my hands until I found the mask and then picked it up, running my hands over it. The first thing I noticed was that the center around the nose was like this huge dark cavernous cave devoid of any light. I wrote down indigo.

I sent my fingers on a careful search of the inside of the mask for some light that might have escaped through until I found a small pocket of yellow leaking out from the crater on the bottom right. I wrote it down.

I traced the outside of the mask for colors, finding blue on the top and bottom of the left and red on the top and bottom of the right. Since my mask was kind of large, I was hoping for more variety of color along the edge. Perhaps two different colors on one side and another two different colors on the other. Like quadrants. But I wrote down the two I found, anyway.

I went back in the center and one of the last things I felt was the nose. At first, I felt indigo. Then, not letting go and perhaps still out of stubbornness, I felt a hint of something else. But it was just a hint. An orange which was strong and definite but didn't overpower the indigo. As if it just wanted to make it's presence known, to reach the tip with roots still in the base. I figured that meant the nose might have a few vertical stripes of orange overlapping. To double check, I sent my ring finger on a lone downward spiral of the nose. As my finger spiraled down the paper-mache, I felt orange the whole way. Confused, I did it again. And again I felt orange. So that was it then. An indigo nose sprouting out of an indigo face topped with an orange spiral. Whatever. I wrote it down.

I opened my eyes for good and painted the mask.

I was much happier with this version. More because I had done more to follow the directions than because of how it looked. For me, it still looked like the archetype of a happy clown face and I was still upset about that. But having finally finished with the painting, I finally felt a sense of relief. The kind you feel when you catch up with everyone else. This relief was only momentary, though, because it came with the realization that I had committed a significant sin. This clowning thing was getting a bit religious, with the mention of Clown Gods and with being guided through exercises, which once repeated, started to feel a lot more like sacred rituals than simple theatre warm-ups. Maybe my original mask, the one with the violet nose, was perfect as it was. I knew that's what Sue would have said. Maybe Christina was right, that the older violet-nose version was where I was and since you can only be where you are, you might as well be comfortable being there. By making an attempt to paint the mask alone, I had cheated myself of seeing myself. Moreover, I had broken Sue's trust. I hadn't shown her the older version nor did I tell her that I was going to paint it again. It was becoming clear that I was adding extra drama to this workshop that didn't need to be there. Even though I was now warming up to the mask I'd soon wear, this was at the cost of endangering my relationship with the guide that would show me how to wear it. The only thing I could do at this point was put these thoughts to rest and vow to focus on whatever it was that Sue would ask us to do next.

To get out of my own way and let the experience take over.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

An Apology And An Invitation

I am so sorry for not having kept this blog up-to-date throughout the workshop. It was really my intention to share my experiences as they were happening. The class, though, it just took off like crazy somewhere in the second week when we started building masks and working on turns and this left little of the time I find I need when it comes to lining up words properly.

That and I got really distracted by the acrobats.

Yeah, so now there are something like two days left and while I remember so much, it feels like I just got here last night. I know I've changed in so many ways. In terms of seeing theatre, the world, and myself...and I still want to write about what it was that happened, not just to share (although I really do want to share) but also to explore the experience after the fact. As well as to get a clearer idea of where I'm at right now and where I'm going next. Really, for me, these are one and the same thing.

So I wouldn't call this the end of the Clown Blog...More like an early intermission. Or maybe a late one...I'm not too clear on the metaphor...

But speaking of shows, if you're in Toronto (or if you're just super mobile), we're having our Soiree this Saturday @ 8pm. It promises to be a truly intimate show followed by a wild party...It would be really awesome if you could make it!

Plus, it's FREE!

Details @

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Finding The Part That Always Works

The last week has been full of exercises that are wonderful, intense, and just about impossible to explain without leaving the impression that all we do is spend each day being hypnotized - whether by Sue or by each other. I'd say it all started when, last Wednesday we did an exercise called "Creator & Masterpiece", which Sue actually introduced by saying she didn't know how or why it worked it but that for some unknown reason it always did. And Barnaby, who had been bringing in his camcorder every day thus far to film the workshop (even if this was only the third day), said this is one of the exercises he wasn't going to film because to someone watching from the outside, it just wouldn't make any sense.

To start things off, half the class was assigned the role of being the Creator and the other to being the Masterpiece. Then everyone was told to shut their eyes. To stand in the space blind, to not have to worry about thinking anything, and just wait there until Sue took your hand and guided you somewhere else. You knew that if you were a Masterpiece you were being brought to your potential Creator and if you were the Creator you were being brought to your Masterpiece to be. For now, these were just labels. I had been given the role of Creator (later we would reverse roles) and waited until Sue came for me. When she did, we laughed together as she walked my two left feet to someone I wouldn't see and who wouldn't see me for quite some time.

Me and this other person sat down across from each other. The class had been given instructions beforehand so the Creators knew that this was when they should gently place their hands on their Masterpiece's face. Having only known whoever this person was for only two and some odd days, we had been told to move our hands around freely, to feel the texture of this person's skin, the curves of their cheeks, to fully explore the terrain of their nose, lips, chin -- to use the sense of touch to experience this person's face completely.

The goal was to do this until we thought of a sound. Any sound that this face led us to think of. And for a back-up plan, if we couldn't think of one, we could just make one up. That tid bit of advice that often follows Sue's instructions for various exercises is a virtual lifesaver since it relieves so much unproductive pressure from any given task. Once we were satisfied with the sound we were supposed to drop our hands to signify to Sue that we were done.

My hands draped over this person's face and my fingers went to work, moving up and down, riding the bumps and feeling their warm skin stretch in response. This was such an instant intimacy. At first, though, I instinctively avoided touching the person's lips directly - until I realized that I really did have complete freedom and unconditional permission to explore as I pleased. It was then that I let my fingers lightly graze over this person's lips to get a better idea of what they were like (later a Masterpiece even mentioned that their Creator had explored his or her nostrils). We weren't supposed to think about who it might be or if it was a male or female. Of course I spent some time on that ("is this a girl, if not, am i gay?") but I did my best to concentrate and continued to move my fingertips up and down over the person's face.

After some time, I started to focus on what appeared to be a dangerously steep downward slope of their cheek bones which then leveled off on what felt like a slightly long chin, surely a safe strip for emergency landings. After some internal revisions and without vocalizing any of them (we weren't allowed to just yet), I decided upon a sound that moved from what seemed like utter desperation and panic to a relatively long sigh of relief: "EEEEEYYY!!!!! Laaaahh..."
And then I removed my hands and brought them down to my side.

When everyone was finished, still not allowed to open our eyes, Sue separated us. She guided the Creators and Masterpieces to different parts of the room. Then one by one the Creators were told to make their sounds. Throughout the day these sounds were all different -- from a deep "Buh--ooooom!!! -Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka!" to a loud meditative "Ohhhhhmmm!!" to an odd but still unmistakable orgasmic sigh. And then there was mine which I thought sounded the least melodic but as far as I was concerned was the only one that actually made sense.

As the creators made their sounds, the Masterpieces were told to carefully listen to each one and to think about which one sounded like it was created using their face. Then all the Creators were told to make their sounds at once. While this was happening, the Masterpieces were told to blindly walk towards which sound they felt was theirs. What followed was a brilliant cacophony of primal mating calls that ended up going for some time....

In between screaming "EEEEEYYY!!!!! Laaaahh..."I, for one, had to reject a number of Masterpieces who thought I was their sound. They would stumble up to and when I touched their face either I didn't recognize the angle of their jaw line or their skin was just too cold. So I cupped the ball of their shoulder and sent them away. Meanwhile, I continued exclaiming "EEEEEYYY!!!!! Laaaahh..." until finally, I found my match. Or rather - my match found me. Only then were we allowed to open our eyes and I saw that the face I had traced and then recognized belonged to Charmaine - one of the friendliest female clowns in the class. And while it wasn't someone I had expected, for some reason, I wasn't surprised. I mean, her face didn't look at all like the black diamond ski slope I had imagined. But the Earthy feeling I had gotten from spending time with her did much to shed light on the person it seemed I was only now looking at for the first time.

Some people apparently found their match right away. They'd hear the sound and just know it was theirs. I obviously hadn't been one of those people. I had to sift through other Masterpieces and Charmaine approached a number of other Creators to boot. At the time, I thought the premise of this exercise was fantastic even if I didn't know how it fit into clowning. That we each gave off a sound. And not only could others perceive it but that if heard, we could recognize it as well. However, it seemed like the number of those who had found each other during their first encounters could be explained by chance. I thought back to when Sue said this exercise always worked.
The thing was, though, this exercise wasn't over.

Once everyone met their original partner, everyone's eyes open, these pairs moved to sit in a wide circle around the green mat. One at a time, each Creator, the one who created the sound from the Masterpiece's face, was directed by Sue to stand up, walk in a circle, and make their their sound. To let the sound run through them, to say it again and again and to not interpret the sound so much as to let go and abandon their body to it. As the Creator walked in a circle, Sue would direct with something like this:

"Sound in your feet and ankles...Sound in your elbows and hands...Sound in your knees...Sound in the small of your back...Sound in your shoulder blades...Sound in your hips...Good, Good. Fall into it, let it fill you up like water. Shoulders, elbows, back of the neck! All that sound! Lovely!"

In the middle of this, Sue told the Creator's matching Masterpiece to get up and catch up to their partner. To follow right behind them and just walk or run as they naturally would. So the Creator was in the lead, letting the sound guide their body, and the Masterpiece was right behind them just being themselves.

For many, this was a moment when something magical happened. You could hear it in their laughter. People were noticing that the Creator was walking in the same way as the Masterpiece. Since they were so close together, the Creator who was in front couldn't see the Masterpiece yet whether it was leg movements or arm swings or the pace or just the way they held themselves, there was this laughter in the recognition of a similarity of movement.

When I got up Sue had to keep reminding me to to repeat "EEEEEYYY!!!!! Laaaahh..." but when Charmaine got up to follow me I heard the class make a sigh of recognition when the movements of our legs apparently lined up. Although being in front, I couldn't see how it looked. And it was difficult to feel much during the process. I didn't really know if my body was replying to the sound itself, to something random like indigestion, or just to Sue's voice.

Others had different experiences. This is another Creator's (Tim's) comments after he had been vocalizing the sound from his Masterpiece, Gabriel:

"I really just let go. He [Gabriel] has just so much masculine energy. I just felt really good, I felt different, I felt like I had to slow down. I wasn't thinking, it just happened. He walks different than me. He walks a lot more heavy..."

And then Gabriel's reaction, which turned out to be pretty common for Masterpieces:

"It's funny to watch yourself walk, that's for sure."

And Sue's comments after the fact:

"...We don't want to comment on the sound! We don't want to -- "This is how the sound would move - Ch, Ch, Ch - Oh I'm moving like this!" This is going to be always an internal motivation, an internal discovery. And because you continue making that sound you continually can discover the movement. You continually meet yourself. You continually meet the sound...So we go away and the sound comes forward."

As for me, I may have caught glimpses and could have seen something but the laughter was more contagious than clarifying when people apparently saw similarities in what were by necessity a likeness of idiosyncratic motions. But really I could have not seen anything. This really troubled me - especially because it was cumulative. Every time I saw a pair walking, the Masterpiece behind the Creator, I kept being pretty sure that I wasn't seeing anything or that if I was I could have just been reading too much into it. And yet it seemed like everyone else was seeing something.

Even when Sue pointed stuff out like:

"Do you hear their feet on the ground, it's the same weight."


"Do you see the way their bodies have the same axis?"

But I didn't hear it, I didn't see it, and knowing that I wasn't picking up what other people were sensing one way or another (you could hear them laughing!), whether it was there or not, I think I lost a little bit of my new-found faith in this thing called clown. To be among believers and not be able to believe, I think that's what happened. To be among believers and to question. As if somewhere in this limbo of wondering if everyone had just been brainwashed or if I wasn't really all that perceptive some of my faith just seeped away.

It was like I was pushed into this funk where my momentum froze and I started questioning things all at once and in the process started forgetting why I came here and what inspired me to study clown in the first place. And I think when that happens, when you lose a new-found faith it makes sense that you go back a few steps, steps which that faith helped you leap over.

That everything came to a head just because I couldn't see matching footsteps really sucked.

And what made matters worse was the exercise wasn't over yet. I had only been the Creator.

The class took a break, we came back and everything happened again. Except this time it was the other way around. I was the Masterpiece.

Really, it started out rather promising.

It wasn't long before I was sitting down and someone's hands were on my face. What struck me right away was how strong and purposeful these fingers were in learning the map of my face. Their hands never held back, never touched my face the same way twice. Their fingers pushed my features together and apart, spread outward and inward, moved from and followed every direction, and finally explored my neck and the space behind my ears. The experience of this person touching me was both majestic and sexual at the same time. Even when making love, I don't think anyone has ever felt me with such intensity and scope...My eyes closed, I thought for sure these hands belonged to a sculptor and since there was a furniture designer/artist I relinquished myself to the thought that it was him. While I prepared to deal with the dissapointment that it wasn't a woman who was touching me I found solace in the thought that the sound being sculpted from these highly perceptive hands would at the very least be something that would be awe-inspiring.

When it came time for all the Creators to make their sounds, I heard mine right away. It was exactly what I thought it would be - long and deep, ending in a string of vocal fireworks. It was one of the examples given earlier -

"Buh--ooooom!!! -Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka! Chaka!"
"Buh--ooooom!!! -Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka! Chaka!"
"Buh--ooooom!!! -Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka!-Chaka! Chaka!"

I immediately went in the direction of this person but right as I was about to reach him he stopped making the sound and since I was blind he instantly dissappeared from my radar. . All of a sudden, I was lost.

I continued to listen to other sounds in the chorus of calls but I couldn't make heads or tails to my attraction to any of them. All I knew was that there was no way one of the sounds in the mix was mine. It began with a bright burst of an "eeee" and ended in a weak moan of "uh" followed by an even even more pathetic "uh". Said together, It went something like "EEE!!! Uhhhh....uh..."

I went up to just about everyone who wasn't exuding this sound only to be turned away. These Creators would just touch my face and then ignore me without even using their body to say goodbye. Each time I had to wander away, missing the sound I swore was mine, overwhelmed in the moment and having no idea where I would go next.

Finally I was one of the last few that was unpaired (the chorus had greatly diminished) and in an act of desperation went up to the sound I just knew couldn't be mine. The hands I never thought I'd seek. These hands searched my face for features to recognize. The hands felt similar -perhaps the same but only cooler. This was not good.

To signify that we had found each other, Sue whispered that we could open our eyes. This unbelievably pathetic and poor excuse of what was supposed to be my awe-inspired sound was mine. It also happned to come from the tiniest and quietest girl in our class. Rachelle.

The rest of the exercise was irrelevant because of how disspointed I felt at that moment. I really did not want to be this sound. It wasn't fair!

It took a little while but I finally realized that Rachelle really did capture how I felt. "EEE!!! Uhhhh......uh..." Huge ambition in the form of expectation instantly blown apart by process. "EEE!!! Uhhhh......uh..." While this discovery should have lifted my spirits, all it did was bring me back full circle and reinforce my own personal shit collection.

My brilliant logic for becoming a clown had vanished but some residual passion was still there -- at the very least in the form of sticking with the workshop and not jumping ship. All that was in the sound:

"EEE!!! Uhhhh......uh..."

This was a hell of a follow-up to what Sue had been talking about when she said, "Expectation cuts off experience." As if so many of Sue's lessons exist on a micro and a macro level. On stage and in the real world. In both, in an infinite number of ways.

Everything was related. I had to re-build. To start over in what felt like the middle and not be bound to who I was coming in. To approach the workshop like a clown and not only work on being a clown during the work. Each moment free to explore something new. Each day not stuck in the drama of the day before. So if for whatever reason one exercise didn't make any sense, to just let it go and get on with it. It doesn't have to be the end of the world.


My motivation gone, I still felt compelled to ask Sue a question: If you could be anything, why be a clown?

"You shouldn't be...For me clowning chooses you, you don't choose it....Why should you do it? Because you do it because you can't not do it. It's not like "Oh, I'm going to do something good for the world, I think I'll be a clown."...It's like, Save your time...It's a process. It's a facing of the self. It's a big deal. It's an incredible act of generosity...Courage. But don't do anybody any favors. You do it because you can't not do it."

I'm here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The First Two Days!

Working today in the first class was kind of like blending being in a Chuck Palahniuk novel (i.e. - Fight Club), listening to a motivational speaker who also happens to be a psychic, doing a warm-up with a dominatrix, joining a new religion, taking a yoga class, experiencing really intense group therapy and through it all learning a whole lot about what it means to be a modern clown. The class started with Sue Morisson, the teacher, telling her assistant who has the most beloved name to get the theatre ready: "Barnaby, go lock the doors properly, would you?" Really, at that point, as far as I know none of us knew what to expect.

Before the class started, we all introduced ourselves, all of us standing in a circle formation around this interconnected green mat on a large widespread concrete floor. We were in the middle of a larger space that's carved inside an unsuspicious three-story building, bordered by an elevated stage in the back that's covered with a bunch of plastic tubs that I'm pretty sure are full of all sorts of crazy props. On the left there's a large mirror that's draped over and on the right there are a few gymnastics mats of various sizes more or less situated underneath two trapeze swings which are identical except for the fact that one of them hangs much closer to the ceiling and likely can only be reached by flying (leaping?) from the other. For all it's openness, the theatre also has a bunch of nooks and crannies that beg to be explored but perhaps can only be done so with the necessary background and skill. Our class takes place during the morning; during the afternoon local acrobats pay a monthly membership to use the space as their gym.

The class started with everyone going around in a circle, answering the usual questions of what's your name, where you're from, and telling a little bit about yourself -- the scary part about what brought you here. All of the fourteen students (thirteen at that point) had a different yet definitely wonderful reason for what inspired them to drive, fly, bus or just walk a few blocks to get to this theatre in Toronto, Canada, whose name is the Centre of Gravity to study for five weeks in Sue's "Clown Through Mask" workshop. One woman came all the way from Argentina with numerous students coming from different provinces of Canada and various parts of the United States.

Being from New York, I should have remembered which states some people had said they came from but for the most part I wasn't paying attention as it slowly became my turn to speak. I was way too nervous about what I was going to say. I don't know how I remember that one Canadian woman said she was a hospital clown and had been for years but had decided to become a street performer and was taking this class to help give birth to an act to take on the road. And then there was a man who said that he built furniture for a living except he didn't conform to any standard forms -- he just created interesting designs without thinking - until one day a Native American walked into his studio and told him you know what you are, you're one of those Sacred Clowns. This apparently had been a life-changing moment and after a searching trip in South America was what brought him here. My turn came ever closer as other students told their stories. Another told us how he had done a show about Will Rogers in New York City and after it was done he realized that he wasn't nearly as present and mischievous with the audience as Will Rogers was and was therefore taking this workshop to do something like go deeper into what it means to truly exist in the moment and share with the audience -- even if that means messing with them.

It was just a matter of time until I was next -- I have no memory of the person's story who came right before me and I likewise have little recognition of the stories that came after. When it came my turn I didn't feel obligated to make something up -- I had a few truths I could pick from: One, that I had nothing. That I had no idea why I was here. That sometimes we do things on a hunch and pray for a miracle but really we have no accessible explanation as to why. That I was feeling more and more lost in New York without any vision (or at least picture) of the future in mind. That I haven't known what I've wanted to do since I graduated college and that this workshop felt a lot like my last hope for discovering myself in some way that could somehow save me. That really I left everything with the thought that maybe something wild and wonderful would happen if I could find the "neutral space" that's described in an interview on her website. But that really I was just here because it felt right.

Or I could have said that I had seen one of her former student's one man shows, "Absence of Magic", in September at the New York Clown Festival, and felt so moved yet the details that really stuck with me was how the clown, Eric Davis, interacted with the audience, from searching in an audience member's mouth for a lost key, to making another one try and write down everything he said, to making just about everybody get up and help clean up the stage in the middle of the show. That I had never seen anything like that but had been mulling over similar ideas beforehand and so I took a class with Eric following the show and now I wanted to take my studies further with his mentor and collaborator.

When my turn finally came, I chose another truth. I said I really wanted to take something meaningful and add it to clowning, to see if I could ground a clown show in a meaningful context...I didn't give the example -- but I just saw another theatrical clown perform a short bit at a New Year's Party and her character was so nervous onstage, so scared of everything around her -- the wall, the audience, the ceiling, herself maybe, everything. And it was believable and funny and great but it just made me think how if I was a scared clown, I would want my fear to come from a more concrete and tangible place. It wouldn't have made sense in her show's context and it sounds like a non-sequitur, but I keep thinking of the genocide in Darfur. How so many people know so little about it and what if a clown pretended to be one of the victims who had fled his burned village and treated the audience as if they were his potential attackers. And what if the attackers -- as in most genocides -- also used to be this poor guy's old neighbors. You could open up this entire dialogue and still bring all that fear to the table -- except now you'd have a reason for it. Every action and intention behind "P-p-p-please don't hurt me!" would make sense right off the bat. You could also have so much laughter and love. After all, maybe these old neighbors used to be old friends. You could even have room for easy denial and possible redemption. My fear, really, is that it relies on bringing so much preconceived stuff to the table and could also be way too melodramatic.
In terms of the future, that's the closest to where I'm at right now.

After introductions, Sue talked a bit about clowning and about what it means to be a sacred clown. About how clowns have existed for ages and were considered as Shamans who were in touch with the universe. And then Sue did a small introduction to the process of mask and how they can help reveal ourselves and how the red nose is really the smallest mask possible and symbolizes so much -- being a circle, life and death, and everything which that encompasses.

Later on, in an exercise called "Present Yourself", which stretched into the second day, Sue had each student not only put on a nose but also a hat. The hat, Sue insisted on because being a clown opens you up to the infinite consciousness of the universe which includes a lot of stuff you don't want to be exposed to. So the hat acts like a filter against all of that undesirableness. This kind of reminded me of the the yamacha that you wear in the Jewish religion. Except there the head covering is supposed to act as a constant symbol of humility, that you are always supposed to be reminded that the laws of the universe are above you and rule you and you should not forget to live in accordance with them.
In theory, the clown version seems a lot more practical.

That I was even thinking this meant I was becoming wrapped up in the workshop pretty quick and with the talk of symbols I was getting the overall impression that clowning was this underground religion and this workshop was a means of being indoctrinated into this amazingly cool cult for clowns only. At this point in my life, I probably wouldn't mind the idea of being brainwashed for a little while but it was like perfect timing when Sue introduced the idea of "cynical benevolence." She said we should and could be cynical of the things we would be asked to do but that we should suspend our critical side until we have embraced those things completely so as to know exactly what we are being critical of. To be benevolent first and cynical second. This then was the true introduction to all the things that would be asked of us in the near future and is something I think I'll need to actively and continuously work on to stay simultaneously involved and afloat.

The first exercise was actually a warm-up: a French version of "Simon Says" which was the same except in this case "Simon Says" was pronounced as something that sounded like "Jacques Cousteau." And if you lost, if you didn't do what Simon said or did something without Simon saying so, Sue came up to you and hit your rear with a wooden stick.

That this was the first exercise and that a lot of it involved running was a huge relief. The only clown class I took before was the one that just wrapped with Eric Davis and that one started out each time with a game of tag. I remember that the reason behind the tag was that that was the kind of game that you could forget yourself in -- that playing it demanded that you be completely present and therefore it was an instant gateway to just being yourself. Here in Toronto during this opening game, for awhile no reason was blatantly stated for playing it but I didn't mind because I felt like I was already in the know.

"Jacques Cousteau - run around in a circle!" "OK, Stop!" "I said stop!"

Some people stopped, those that did got whacked. "Jacques Cousteau - stop!" Everybody froze. Sue would then say "OK - Go!" "Run!" "I said, Go!" Some people made stutter-steps and and had to be hit. Then the running would start would start again with Sue saying: "Jacques Cousteau - Run!"

And then something like this happened, Sue said -

"OK - stop"..."I said, Stop."..."Stop!"..."Please stop."..."OK, fine, Jacques Cousteau - stand on one leg."

Insteading of raising their leg, somebody stopped. When asked why, the student said she thought Sue would say, "Stop."

"See! Anticipation prevents experience! By expecting something, this prevents you from truly experiencing it!"

This complemented the idea of cynical benevolence rather well. That you should give everything a try and that just because you've done it one way before doesn't mean you can do it another way again.

The game continued and somewhere around here Sue was like, "No juggling, what kind of clown class is this?"

The next few exercises all seemed to build up to "Present Yourself." This was the exercise that lasted two days where you got on a makeshift stage and chose a red nose and a hat. You then faced the class alone and were supposed to just be yourself. Not to act anything -- just be yourself, spend time looking at everyone in the class individually and simply be how you feel and to let yourself react fully to each person and thereby have a silent conversation which you were then supposed to carry to your next encounter. This is so much more difficult than it sounds! Some approximate but fantastic quotations during the process from Sue. I get the feeling the whole workshop is contained in these phrases...

"It's not about coming out with nothing, it's about coming out with yourself."

"I don't want you to go out of your body, I want you to stay right here!"

"We are emotion masters...We're not actors, it's not like "Why did I change my feelings?" Actors are Why, clown is How."

"If you want to be a happy clown, you have to be a shitty, scary clown!"

"Whatever the impulse is, that's what you must do...To not worry about being wrong about things. It's more interesting to see choices. Even if they don't work, it's nice to see that you agree to explore an impulse that is presented. Later we can learn to orchestrate these things..."

"Our job in clown is to be reactive and that's why we can't work alone...that's why we can't work in a vacuum."

"That is where the clown in between all the between thought and action...panic and possibilities, is like the time between thunder and lightening, in this moment between the thing that happened and what will now happen ..."

"We want to think on the outside...I don't think clowns think and then speak...I think they do and then they hear what they said and then they go "Oh." That's how they kind of learn. It's in a backwards way."

"We will become brilliant manipulators: manipulate ourselves, manipulate others."

"We can be authentic at any moment and know that we're not going to be enslaved by that...It's not a life sentence, whatever feeling you're in."

"You must become indulgent with your feelings...The goal is to have a great time with your crappy feeling!"

"A gun can kill you but a feeling can't."

When I got up and went onstage, there came a point when Sue commented that I was looking too deeply at somone and not being generous or sharing enough. You can't really tell in the picture.

I don't really know what to give if we can't actually bring anything to the table. And I did feel that way when I was looking at certain people. That I was staring into somone's eyes begging them to give me something or to tell me their life stories. And throughout I needed to be reminded to breathe. So when I finished making contact with the last student and I walked off and Sue hugged me, I faced the class with her and asked her if she could tell me more about what it means to give...

"It's not that we even know who we are when we stand up. That's part of what this is. At this moment, who are we, how are we when we stand without the gimmick of words and everything. How do we become available and not dictate or direct what somebody receives from us or how they see us. ..when you ask about having something promptly to give ... that's NOT it. It can be reactive. It can be like looking at someone and having a feeling about that person. Being intrigued by them, bored by them, hating them, loving them..."

"You are NOT bringing something concrete to the table, you are just being yourself and when I say yourself, that sounds crazy, right, but when you're up there you can discover who you are and how you approach the world. And we saw that. "

It's kind of like all the time there are truths floating through this workshop and Sue is sharing them all the time and they're there for the taking but I think you really need to have your own epiphany before it hits you. Her answer I have a feeling is really important and it's not that I'm just going to wait for it's meaning to kick in but it's something I'm really striving towards -- it's that neutral space I think. Where anything can happen.