Discovering the Clown, or The Funny Book of Good Acting Review – Bite-Sized Clown Wisdom Offers A Pathway to Playfulness

DISCOVERING THE CLOWN
Christopher Bayes

In the introduction for Discovering the Clown, or The Funny Book of Good Acting, Christopher Bayes outlines that his book (with contributions from Virginia Scott) is not a guide for how to teach clowning or act like a clown. Instead, he writes, Discovering the Clown should serve as “a book about theater, acting, and all the possibilities of the comic world.” That distinction will likely be important for many readers, as it was for this writer. For regardless of whether or not you’ve dabbled in comedy, acting, or clown, or are an admirer from the audience, you will likely find both joy and wisdom in Bayes and Scott’s book. After all, who couldn’t do with reading about how to access one’s own inner playfulness?

DISCOVERING THE CLOWN
Christopher Bayes

Bite-sized chunks of clowning wisdom in Discovering the Clown

 

Discovering the Clown is organized into four sections. Part One discusses the nature of talent and how to go about discovering your own talents and their relation to both clowning and your voice and body. The other parts of the book build upon these ideas so that even if you’re unfamiliar with much about clowns, you finish with a much deeper appreciation of the physical, mental, and emotional work that goes into becoming a clown. These reflections only span a few pages, making Discovering the Clown an easy reference as well as the kind of book you can progress through at your own leisure.

Christopher Bayes approaches clowning from a variety of angles

As a writer, Bayes mixes things up in terms of content. Some portions of Discovering the Clown have a more esoteric or philosophical feel, while others break through more academic trappings with down-to-earth analogies. “Mr. Shotgun,” for example, is used to refer to the feelings of desperation a student of clowning may feel when forced to make an audience laugh. “Smell the Barn,” “The Sweet Spot,” and “Zone of the Pathetic” are also idioms utilized to describe different aspects of clowning and stage direction. Overall, Bayes’ careful structure and inventive use of language helps to create a book that builds upon itself while providing easy access and understandable descriptions of the different phenomena actors will experience while pursuing clown.

DISCOVERING THE CLOWN

One theme of Part One which is built upon throughout the book is the concept of “socialization,” and how societal expectations and regulations dampen down our sense of self. Breaking down socialization doesn’t mean being unruly or rude, however. Instead, Bayes shares that “the clown is free to express itself grandly and truthfully in the moment,” because of its lack of social inhibitions. To this writer, at a time where the country is becoming more and more divided, thinking about the different ways in which you could break away from socialization may be a worthwhile resolution for the new decade. If this idea sparks interest to you, you’ll surely find unique wisdom in the passages of Discovering the Clown.

For more information or to purchase a copy visit the Theatre Communications Group website.

Images courtesy of Christopher Bayes

Brent Ervin-Eickhoff
Brent Ervin-Eickhoff is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., Facility Theatre, and others as a director, assistant director, and in a variety of artistic capacities. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and then Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble for three years, of which he was a founding member. His productions of Herculaneum and Bison? Bison. Bison! with Blue Goose were praised by critics and audiences. Bison? Bison. Bison! was selected and performed as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Initiative. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. His play Puget Sound was workshopped as a staged reading as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s Incubator Program in 2017. Brent graduated from Ball State University Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, as well as Ball State’s prestigious Academic Honors in Writing.

Read more about him and other Picture this Post writers on the Picture this Post Masthead.

Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Brent Ervin-Eickhoff

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