Thursday, June 25, 2020


“Non-Clown Clowns” is a concept that there are numerous people in all sorts of fields who are natural clowns but express their humour and creativity outside of the field of clown or theatre. In this case there is not a lot of funny-ness from the two Jazz musicians. However, the host is the brilliant ‘clown’ comedian Steve Allen who was an accomplished jazz pianist and composed thousands of tunes and songs. He also was an expert on clown and comedy. His parents were a Vaudeville comedy duet. 

The Evans brother’s conversation is one of the closest concepts to my method and philosophy of creativity that I have ever heard of. The other closest concepts are from Hassidus and Kabbalah, both of which, along with jazz are practical inspirations to me and to my work. I also relate the same inspiration particularly from the work of the painters: Kandinsky, Klee, Miro, Chagall, Arthur Boyd, and a few others. 

The Evans brothers discuss the ‘Jazz brain’ or ways of thinking jazz. This is completely in harmony with what I call “The Quantum Point”. I am currently editing my 2nd book about my work. It’s title is the same as my method “Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare”. It will be released in 2020.

The Evans’ are both also teachers of music and jazz. I am highly critical of what has been perpetuated as ‘clown teaching’ and ‘physical theatre training’ both of which I consider hoaxes stemming primarily from Paris schools and their cloned businesses. I explain about that in the beginning of Clown Secret and there I relate and connect the hoax to two myths/stories: The emperor’s new clothes; and, the worship of the golden calf. Evans’ have seen similar problems in the teaching of music and jazz and explain the problems and solutions which to me are essentially the same issues and solutions in the teaching of clown and physical theatre and improvisation.

What the Evans’ articulate can be applied directly to clowning. My introductory template “The Four Articulations for Performance” provide a “framework” and techniques as Evans’ explain. In fact, I would say my method is the same as what they articulate about the learning, teaching, creating, performing about Jazz, only my ‘jazz’ is clown.

In fact, I would say the relation between what they and Allen tell has an uncanny relation to how I actually think about clown. But it is no coincidence because as they articulate and as I tell in the book Clown Secret my method is actually to establish and reveal “Universal Principles”. As they are universal they can be found in science and in mysticism such as Kabbalah and Hassidic philosophy. 

“The Universal Mind of Bill Evans”:

Steve Allen:

Bill Evans:

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Is Nonsense Necessary to Make Sense of Society?

Is Nonsense Necessary to Make Sense of Society?

I think that nonsense is a necessary part of the human mind. It is not something likely to be provable. Provable generally tends to mean - scientifically provable.
But the social science are soft sciences and that involve ones perception.
Hard science claims that perception and the personal are not part of the science.
Quantum Physics seems to have a different acceptance that ones perspective dictates ones conclusions.
Here is a video about traditional Chinese medicine that is notably as much an art as it is a science. 
TCM today is not actually the original indigenous form of traditional Chinese medicine as Dr Duffy in the video explains.

I paused the video after 22 -23 minutes when Duffy showed two Chinese symbols: one for music and the other for medicine. He explains and we can see visually the two symbols are very similar but that medicine has two extra elements which look like three-pronged spears or tridents like that of the mythical archetype - Neptune is said to have had such a trident.

However, as soon as I saw the symbol for medicine I noted that the two ‘tridents’ look exactly like the 21st Hebrew letter ‘shin’. Interestingly, When the Hebrew alphabet 22 letters are written there are actually 23. The reason is that ‘shin’ is actually presented as a double letter with one version pronounced ‘shin’ and the other pronounced ‘sin’. Some other letters in Hebrew also have a doubling. Some of the letters have a vowel point added so the pronunciation differs like the letter ‘pe’ has a hard sound like ‘pee’ or a soft sound like ‘fe’. A few letters also have one appearance when placed in the beginning or middle of a word but when placed as the last letter they have a changed form.

Back to Duffy, he points out that the double trident at the top of the symbol for medicine represent ‘shaman’ as a double image of a male shaman and a female shaman. The Hebrew letter shin/sin appears like a trident and represents the sound ‘sh’ or ‘s’ depending on where the ‘vowel’ point is placed. When the point or dot is placed on the right side of the trident it is sh/shin. When placed on the left side of the trident is is s/sin.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Collaboration - “The Quantum Point”

“The Quantum Point” is what I call the magic space in time where creativity can move in any direction or manner. Physically, the pineal gland is like the embodied metaphor of The Quantum Point. In the book Clown Secret (2018, 2020) there is a chapter Co-Creating. The Quantum Point can be the fulcrum between and balancing collaborators. Another book is soon to be self-published “Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare”. I liked this article and the way the writer/mother/artist reflected on a challenging environment.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Truth Is Not Black or White... it is much more grey and more fluid like Yin/Yang

This book link below was posted on fb today. This is great to see such a book. I will order it. Certainly in the USA the Entertainment Industry was an ‘activist’ in making the wedge into the public’s psyche to change it’s programmed and historic racism. That activism started already in the early films, but, as the public generally was living in a fully racist society, activism had to be cunning and incrementally introduced into films. Even Sammy Davis, Jr in his autobiography explains for example how he had to enter venues by the kitchen and was not permitted to use the front entrance even though he was one of the most talented and highly revered entertainers. Then is was Las Vegas and the “Rat Pack” which he was a part of that forged an open path for him. His friends in the pack included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, who along with Jerry Lewis ensured and forced greater exposure of Davis. But there is a set of ‘politically correct’ myths including how ‘black face’ functioned. Black face though controversial was consciously turned into an important wedge. Also the so-called ‘demeaning’ roles in films as servants (historically accurate) in almost all cases (not each, not all, but most) the film makers ‘placed’ the Black Americans so that people could visually see yes they are an equal part of the society. Additionally, almost always the Black servants and characters were recognisably with a nobility. Some were the opposite, but most were positive roles even if the character’s job was as a servant. Hal Roach already in the 1920s insisted to have a Black American child in The Little Rascals/Our Gang. Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle were just a few of the most famous entertainers who fought the system and used their stardom to do so. Two books which deal with some of these themes are: “Blackface, White Noise” by Michael Rogin; and, the even politically oriented “The Eddie Cantor Story” by David Weinstein.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Post-Pandemic Comedy of 1922 about Doctors/Medicine

Comedy made shortly after the Spanish Flu Pandemic. Doctors in the same field may often hold very different opinions. Thus the old adage “get a second opinion”. If you need a doctor go to one. BUT it is known that one tries to find a ‘good’ one as some doctors are better than others. For the record for change of seasons, and sometimes before or after long overseas trips, for those occasions when I feel maybe I should see a doctor ..... I almost always go to A CHINESE DOCTOR or a Doctor of Chinese Medicine who is either FROM China or Korea or Japan. The first time I went to one, it was because a friend was going and knew this particular one who was from Japan. That was in 1976. So I happened to see this the other day and had absolutely no idea about the subject nor story. “ Dr. Jack, has plenty of practice but scant fees. He believes in using sunshine methods and avoids medicine as far as possible. This is quite contrary to the methods employed by the renowned Dr. Ludwig von Saulsbourg (Mayne), who for four years has reaped a golden harvest out of the father (Prince) of the Sick-Little-Well-Girl (Davis), keeping the latter in dark rooms and feeding her drugs without end.” Western Medicine is brilliant with emergency care!! And microsurgery!!! And one form of diagnosis (Chinese Medicine has a different perspective). And several other areas. Chinese Medicine has its own virtues including 1000s of years of practice. A few years ago while on ‘tour’ with Cirque du Soleil I was near the teacher of my friend (a juggler who became a Doctor of Chinese Medicine). So I went for a general checkup. That Doctor was 15th generation of a Chinese family of doctors of Chinese Medicine.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Ponydance- Clown? Dance? Or beyond? This essay got lost, but now it’s found.

.Clown Phenomenon – Pony Dance

To my understanding ‘clown’ is like the archetypal ‘fool’ as per the tarot card – an independent wanderer about to step from a precipice into an abyss called home. When you see Pony Dance whether in a theatre, street or club it is, as if, you’ve been welcomed home after a long journey lost in a cynical world.  They are a joy to see while they challenge our preconceptions about dance, clown, acting, theatre and being ‘modern’. 

Again Pony Dance has proved here in Edinburgh that they are pioneering a hybrid form that transcends clown, dance, and theatre. The key ingredient is the director/choreographer/dancer Leonie McDonagh from near Carrick-on-Shannon cum Belfast. The current show is the third that I have seen from Pony Dance and if you ever wondered who took facial expression away from dancers – Pony Dance has put it back. If you ever wondered who are the culprit clown ‘teachers’ that insist clowns just stand still – do nothing – stop their bodies from actual play….. Pony Dance has returned clowning to a full total embodiment. Their embodied way is not just physical it is also intellectual. Many professional clowns are deeply skilled in clown craft, just as many are not actually funny even though as craftsmen they know how to ‘get laughs’. The Pony Dance performers are all funny, genuinely, authentically. The audience roars, cheers and falls earnestly in love with them. Yet the Ponies are pushing the envelope on many levels. They are profoundly Beckettian in that they explore waiting and longing like Vladimir and Estragon with ADHD. They use anything and any way they feel like it. 

They work very hard in the studio and so far all of their shows demand 100% attention and driven vitality from each performer. The audience loves seeing them work hard and loves seeing them play hard.
Their shows all have a direct audience communication as in clown, commedia, and stand-up comedy. Many of their shows have a spanner-in-the-works or wild card in that some of the shows either have the actors amongst the audience or some of the audience amongst the actors. Very hands on stuff. 

Their show “Where Did It All Go Right” (Winner of Best of Fringe – Dance Award 2012 – Adelaide) definitely was a hands-on each night by at least one lucky audience member. That show and their current “Anybody Waitin’?” in Edinburgh’s Silk nightclub (Edinburgh 2012) are site-specific i.e. made to be performed in either a bar, pub, or nightclub. Other shows of theirs are stage/theatre shows. But they also have rocked it on the street and in Womade (Adelaide) they were a hit also on the street. They’ve won various awards, grants, commissions since we first started working together – me as their mentor (officially since 2009 unofficially since 2008).

There have been eight dancers since I have known them and all have outstanding qualities personally and professionally and intellectually. On stage they have all mastered dumber than dumb yet the overall act is extremely stimulating intellectually. Somehow through all their shenanagins  and kitsch veneer they challenge the way the audience thinks about what they are seeing so that the audience clearly becomes involved mind-to-mind with the quick wit and antics of Pony Dance.

Leonie is 100% the driving force yet she is a young master of collaboration on fire. Each of the dancers is a true equal participant in her company. Paula O’Reilly is 100% the muse. She is a queen of funny for sure. She has the stage presence of a divine wicked clownesse. Paula and Leonie bounce ideas and forces both in the office, studio, onstage and as required in schmoozing and having a ball at the festivals. Paula is also very much an Auntie to Leonie’s young son.

Yet, at the same time, each of the dancers (Duane and Ryan in Edinburgh, as well as Deirdre of the recent and next Australian tours, and earlier dancers Neil, Carl, Oona) are given space to be a creative partner with Leonie and is driven by Leonie to go further. To go all the way your own way - may be the catch phrase of this company.  

Leonie McDonagh has something to say and has chosen her own iconoclast path that is a humorous poignant, touching, and kinetic deconstruction of post-modernism. Her soul is both deeply ancient Celt, Irish, and drastically modern. Something in her is aligned with the Irish theatre action towards independence as were Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett. Their movement is our movement, that is, actively learning to cast off ones intellectual shackles and fighting to offer something better. 

Pony Dance release an essence of a pure, spiritual creative fire and Leonie’s work allows that energy to emerge uniquely from each performer in her company.