Nalleblue's Weblog


What is my history as an artist?
February 25, 2012, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy, Uncategorized

Literary / Popular Theater

I have often been confused by how theater describes its history by starting with the greek theater 600 bc when what I think theater historians mean is that it was the start of what I call Literary Theater. Theater based on a written text.

In opposition I call what I do Popular Theater. Theater of the marketplace. In this I include storytelling, magic, circus, mime, commedia dell’arte, street dance and any form where the artist is in direct connection with the audience.

Historically I feel connected to the storytelling grandmother, the traveling musical minstrel or the ancient shaman. In all three cases the connection between the artist and the audience is very clear and tangible.

When I see art that lacks this connection I often feel that they have misunderstood their true history.

Of course there is never any 100% clear distinctions when it comes to the arts as creativity steals from all directions but I do see a political difference from art forms that historically connect to there audiences and art forms that often leave the audience in the role of the observer. We often speak of High Art or Low Art. High art being culturally superior art forms like ballet, opera och theater classics. Low art being physical comedy, street arts or entertainment.

I would categorize ballet as Literary Theater. Even if ballet is seldom based on the written word for me it somehow historically belongs to the path of literary theater.

I wonder if the two paths somehow parted when they started getting paid from different wallets?

Literary art forms have historically been funded by the governing powers so it was important for them to highten their status to be accepted by the ruling King or Government.

Popular theater on the other handed is historically funded by its audience. This of course forced them as well to the necessity of staying connected to them.

I can often feel working at the National Performance University’s in Sweden an ignorant bliss of these two different history’s and a definite snobbery against popular theater forms but interestingly as modern art has become in many ways estranged from its connection to the audience, because of funding needs the national performance institutes are turning very quickly to the creation of Popular Theater. The government-funded theaters are now competing with the private theaters with the same musicals.

Historically I feel connected to all the people who for whatever reason have found a way to create wonder in an audience. Whether it be the magic-using Egyptian priests, the cup and ball scoundrel of the streets or show off horse riders.

What we all have in common is that we are wonder makers.



How to package clown knowledge?
January 23, 2012, 11:44 am
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy

For many years I have been collecting ideas, thoughts and understandings about the mechanisms of performing. I have enough tools to be able to teach and direct but the actual full matrix of it still eludes me.
Fake it to you make it..
I fake it by calling my collected ideas the Nalleslavski Method.
But i had a little glimps of understanding the clown matrix during this weekends workshop for the swedish activist Clown Army.
The break through came from chosing to see the information through solely the performers perspective instead of jumping between the perspectives of the audiance, performer, room, material, objectives and so on.

Nallislavski levels of the performers awareness.
– internal, your self
– the room, space architecture
– objects
– the other actors
– the dramaturgy of the material
And most important
-the audiance

As an exercise I guided them into each specific awareness and then jump from one to another and finally they easily could improvise with just always deciding which awareness they were in.

But most impostant maybe it could be a way to catagorize the entire Nalleslavski Method.
Every exercise i have can fall into one of the catagories.
I think…
Time for class

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Kletclowner
March 26, 2008, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy, Teaching

Kletclowner

I learned a new brilliant word from a friend today.

Kletclowner

Klet in swedish means the action of making a mess. Its what kids do with the food on there plates when they do not want to eat and what crazy people do with shit on peoples doors that they don’t like.
So it felt like a brilliant way of describing the idea of people who “klet” make-up all over there faces and call themselves clowns.
Usually I like to try to let all people find there own way but some ways are just plain wrong… ;o)



The clown is a stress reducing security ventile.
March 26, 2008, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy, Clowns without Borders, Teaching

InternationellaArtistlinjen

Click here to see the slideshow.

This week our school has been focusing on hospital clowning seeing as on our international expeditions we often are invited to perform in hospitals and in private rooms. It has been very inspiring because the hospital clowning tools are very similar to the tools I teach but the reason and performing situation is so very very clear.

We have learned are once again the important terms aware/listening (swedish=lyhördhet), of that we are trying to create a safe emotional environment, a free-zone where the children and there families can forget for a moment the tragedies, pain and suffering that they are dealing with.

Hospital clowning in Sweden has worked hard and professionally for the last ten years to build up a respect and feeling of necessity for there work.

Good on you…



The rebel concept of Artist/Creator
March 22, 2008, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy, Teaching

All people are creative. Creativity can and should be cultivated. Unfortunatly not all are given the chance.
Communication in itself is a creative process. It is an immediate living give and take between the individuals communicating.
Artists train creativity and communication. In my clown training I call these playing and listening.
I believe that artists are most creative when they have the possibility and understanding of how to influence their whole creative process. This is totally different from the current point of view that artists are tools for interpretating a director or choreographers artistic vision.

Tradition has divided the artistic process of creating performance art into two parts, the dancer or actor(1) who interprets the artistic vision of the director or choreographer(2). The trained artist for this I call Artist/Interpreter.

Performance art schools teach the traditional Artist/Interpreter viewpoint. This is of course to prepare the future artists to be able to work in theaters, dance ensembles, opera houses or almost all forms of elitist performance institutions.
A down side being of course that if the artists are not hired by anybody they cannot create.

The tradition I am trained in is called Artist/Creator which can be traced to all forms of  popular performance arts forms. Magicians, circus artists and clowns have always controlled their entire creative process. The way I teach the artist/creator method is by dividing the creative process into two parts. The first part is the artist based dream and creative process done in the studio or theater space. Here the artist is free to experiment, dream and search creativly for ideas and material. For the second part of the process the artist much change hats and put on the directing hat. Artistic freedom is important but performance art in its essens is about the communication between the actor and the audiance. So in the second part of the process the audiance point of view must rule. Who are the audiance? Does the material effect them? How? Was that my purpuse? How can I clean and strengthen the audiances experience?
There is a misconsumption that there is a conflict between what the artist wants and what the audiance wants. That giving the audiance what they want is to sell out… I believe that the entire performance situation is manipulatory. The artist is asking the audiance to be part of a communication game. So it is the artists responsabilty to have answered the questions of why the audiance should be there and also to take responsability that the game is played well. There are no bad audiances.
Artist/creator processes can still use directors as the outside eye, coach and playfriend who help the artist envision there dream. So far I have never encountered a performing arts school that teaches this process. In todays performance institutions the directors job is done on the day of the premiere. They then move on to the next project.
In the artist/creator method that is when the directors work begins.

My feeling is that the ruling concept of artist/interpreter is understood as the only way of thinking, by default, by most performance art schools, even schools dedicated to traditional artist/creator art forms like circus. This is unfortunate as I find that people who feel secure in there own creative processes are by far the most interesting to play with, even if to interpret my ideas.



Catharsis, Climax and Catastrophes
March 22, 2008, 2:07 pm
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy, Clowns without Borders, Teaching

The reason we perform is to help the audiance experience a catharsis.
The greek philosopher Aristotle used the word as a medical term describing the bodies different cleansing processes but later used the term to describe the effect the audiance experiances when watching a tragedy play.
In short catharsis means emotional cleansing, it is a release of pent-up emotion. Children cathart all the time. When they are sad they cry. If angry they scream and fall to the ground in tantrums. Catharis for me as an artists tool means losing control of the emotion. Not always easy as we are always afraid of the real consequences of vomiting ourselves of fear, shaking of anger and peeing ourselves of laughter. The full spectre of emotions can be climaxed, can reach the point where the emotion becomes stronger than the intellect. And once the body has performed the response it needs one finds oneself calm and balanced. Emotionally cleansed.
As we become adults we are taught to control our emotions. That it is not adult like behavior to cry on the bus, be afraid of the dark or laugh at vegetables at the grocery store. Yet does the adult body not have the same need to emotionally cleanse as the child?
I think it does and art has always been a justified way of helping people experience emotions. It is ok to cry at a movie, laugh at a play and scream at a concert.
I believe that part of the artists roll in society is to help people stay happy and balanced by giving them platforms where they can cathart.
Catharsis, climax and catastrophes are words that have meant a lot to me in my search for comedy material that works internationally needing to cross cultural and language barriers.
Climax is somehow the key performing tool I have found that helps us create a catharsis for an audience. If an artist can involve the audience in his actions and then keep them while building towards the situations climax, the audience response is tangible. As an artist I can feel there emotional response like a wave that gives that artist high we end up always searching for.
For the climax tool to work it is necessary to be in tune with the audience. Therefore I created the rule that the artist always must begin on a lower energy level then his audiance, catch them and then bring them with you up to a climax.
Catastrophe is a beautiful word which has meant a lot to me. Early in my clowning career I thought of the concept Catastrophe Clowning, which could mean performing in areas struck by catastrophe, performing for anybody personally struck by catastrophe as well as pertraying the internationally recognizable ordeal of the individual dealing with catastrophe.
I am not sure where I first heard the concept that the word catastrophe did not necessarily mean a negativ climax but could also be the ultimate positiv turning point as well.
In the greek theater the Catastrophe was the term for the climax and resolution of the plot, positively that everybody gets married in the end or negatively that everybody dies. When teaching clown I use the Catastrophe as the goal of every improvisation. Most people generalize that just because the clown uses failure as a tool that it must always fail. Instead I use the concept of catastrophe which in this case could be described as an emotional climax, leading to a turning point and resolution.
This can mean either success or failure.



Rooms and Territories
March 21, 2008, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Artist, Clown philosophy, Clowns without Borders, Teaching

Performance spaces
Simplified I would divide the three basic room situations we perform in as the public, private and exclusive rooms.

The public room
Example: street performing
The public room belongs to everybody and as an artist you are forced to justify why an audience should stop and spend their time watching you. Your audience probably already has an agenda which you must somehow be more interesting than. There is an immediancy in the public room that cannot be ignored.
The artist is there for the audience that wishes to partake or else the audience member chooses to leave.

The private room
Examples: hospital clowning, table magic
The private room belongs to the audience and not to the performer. This situation makes it vital for the artist to always ask for permission to enter before performing. We must always remember that we are guests in someone elses territory and depending on the fragility of the situation always be ready to respect a no.
The artist is there for the audience that wishes to partake or else the artist must choose to leave.

The exclusive room
Example: performing in theaters
The exclusive room can like a theater be architecturally designed to enhance the artist/audience experience using light, sound, seating comfort, clear sight lines and a structure that clearifies the border between the artist and the audiance.
In any event performance situation the artist will always look for areas that come as closely as possible to a theater situation.
Traditionally the audience cannot leave so somehow is there for the artist.

Of course these are generalizations but they work as frameworks for calibrating performances.
A childrens party might be in someones house making it a private room so it is important to ask permission to enter. The kids are high on suger and running around playing forcing the artist to switch to public room mode where they in reality must be more fun than the games the children are playing. Or maybe the parents have already gathered the children in the living room and built a small theater using chairs and sofas which would let the artist work in the exclusive room.

Pedagogical spaces
Working as a pedagog I have found it important to always spend the time in the begining of the process in creating a room where the students feel safe. It is the most important tool I have found in creating a creative enviroment. My ideal room would be warm enough to where a t-shirt, clean enough to roll on the floor, big enough to run around in but not so big that the individual gets lost in it. There is nothing easily broken or belonging to someone else and the exterior sound levels are not so bothering that they take the focus from the room. In the beginning with a new group I usually do not allow visitors and I try to focus on the group more than the individual.
I try and always begin with experience excercises that are impossible to fail at and that create a “we” feeling within the group.

As the group gets stronger it becomes easier for its individuals to trust that the group will be accepting of there failures and mistakes.

The fourth wall
In traditional theater the scenography would take up three walls of the stage leaving the fourth wall as the invisible line between the artist and the audience. To turn and speak straight to the audience is called “breaking the fourth wall”.
The clown traditionally never has a fourth wall.

Introvert / Extrovert
When performing without the fourth wall it is still possible to play between the two worlds of private and public. The clown gets privately angry with his shoe lace but when he has finished tying it he once again turns to the public and asks for recognition.

Personal territories
As an artist working mainly outside of theaters I find myself constantly meeting new people in new situations. Besides the different room definitions I have learned to define the different territories individuals react on when one enters them.

Within me
The introspect territory. Someone who is deep in thought, concentrating on an idea, asleep or doing yoga.

Touch
Aikido teaches this as one of the most important territories. When two people stand so that neither can touch the other one is outside this territory. Take one small step closer and the body physically goes into defensive reaction. This is one of the clowns most useful tools as it can be used to set someone off balance as well as used to create trust by asking permission before entering. I have still never met an audience individual who is aware of there reaction to this territory so it is a great strength to have knowledge of it.

Within the room
The immediate room. The doorway to the hospital room or outside the circle of a dinner table or group of people.

Within the horizon
That which can be realistically reached without much problem. This is just as much a physical territory as an intellectual one. Physically if you can see the goal it is reachable. Intellectually if you can invision the path you can reach it.

Outside the horizon
This is the territory outside your personal norm. It is the place you have never been. It could be the dream or a place of fear because of uncertainty.