Featured Artist: Moshe Cohen

This week’s featured artist is Clowns Without Borders’ founder, Moshe Cohen. Since 1987, he has performed in Myanmar, Kosovo, South Africa, Nepal, Guatemala, Haiti, Croatia, Chiapas (Mexico), South Sudan, and Baton Rouge, LA. Moshe continues to perform and teach internationally. Over the past 25 years, he has given over 2000 performances in over 30 countries. He teaches workshops exploring the expression of personal humor through physical theater and contemporary clown. Moshe has most recently performed with CWB – USA in Guatemala.

Do you wear a red nose when you perform?

When I am medical clowning. I do yet rarely on stage.

What is your favorite clown prop?

The mini harmonica (one octave)

What’s a favorite memory from working with CWB?

One of my favorite memories was in Chiapas in 1996, when I accompanied Pablo Romo to visit a small community. Pablo was the head of the Catholic Human Rights Center in St Cristobal (Centro Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas).

When we arrive, Pablo takes a little leather shoulder bag, and starts pulling out a priest’s robe. I  didn’t realize until that moment that he was a priest as he always dressed casually. He instructs me that I have to attend mass with him, that he has to introduce me to the community so that they don’t think I am a bruja (witch.)

The mass itself was quite special as Pablo lead the ceremony with a local Sacerdote (the indiginous community priest) and the service alternated between Catholic prayers and Mayan language songs sang by the Sacerdote, accompanied by a small group of musicians.  Indeed in the midst of it, Pablo introduces me as ‘buen gente’ (good people) and that I am here to offer them something special after the service. Soon after that, the Sacerdote and Pablo start giving communion to the congregation.  Pablo approaches me, wafer in hand, and I’m  wondering if he really is going to offer me the wafer and communion as he knows i’m a Jewish man.  He steps up to me and positions the wafer about 6 inches from my mouth, yet rather than offer me the wafer, he leans in and whispers in my ear “Ok, go get ready for the show.”

 

What are your currently working on ?

I’m rehearsing for a late January show where I play the clown in a show produced by the Mongolian Contortion Center and Circus Center here in San Francisco.

 

What’s something you learned from another CWB artist?

Patience

What question do you wish I had asked?

What was your first experience performing for refugees? In 1987 I was invited to come perform in 3 small Guatemalan refugee camps in Chiapas.

 

A performance shot taken through a clown's legs, looking toward the audience

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