Locating the self: narratives and practices of authenticity in French clown training

Article English OPEN
Purcell-Gates, L (2011)

This paper explores clown pedagogy in relation to authenticity, taking as its starting point the clown workshop at the École Philippe Gaulier in June 2008 in which the author was a participant-researcher. It explores how and where an analysis of French clown training both reveals reinscription of authenticity – the idea that the ‘true self’ is revealed through the mask form of clown – and exposes fissures in these ideas. Within this training, a construct of the authentic self exists alongside techniques that disrupt conventional notions of stable, linear identity by utilising techniques of disorientation to shift the locus of the self from the core of the body to a negotiable space between performer and spectator. Examining the ways in which gestural style was both linked with and contested the idea of authenticity within the French mime tradition in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the article examines how such conflicting ideas of authenticity continue to circulate within the contemporary clown classroom. Specifically, it looks at how the pedagogical language used by Gaulier and the descriptive language of students, as well as embodied classroom practices, discursively reinscribe the idea of a stable, unified self while simultaneously disrupting it. By juxtaposing anddrawing connections between an older mime tradition and a current pedagogical practice, the ways in which the idea of the ‘self’ has been and continues to be contested, altered and redefined within a specific site of performer training are highlighted.
Share - Bookmark