Clowns Without Borders Colombia 2012
CaliClown Capacity Building Project. Cali Colombia
Colombia has the world’s second highest number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) : 4 million people. This is due to the ongoing 50 year old civil war much complicated in recent years by narcotrafficking, paramilitary and gang activities. Many of the displaced have taken refuge on squatted lands in and around Colombia’s major cities and towns. Communities have developed in favella style where neighborhoods are controlled by gangs, and territorialism is marked by violence.
CaliClown is a young 1 year old clown troupe in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city,population 4 million. They are a volunteer group of about 12 lead by the two founders and main instigators of the funny, Ilana and Connie. There is a great deal of goodwill and enthusiasm to become more active both in the context of hospital clowning and ‘humanitarian’ clowning, which is CWB style activities both in the cities difficult neighborhoods, and eventually in the conflict zones near Cali.
The Project – To raise the level of Clowning capacity through the week long presence of Moshe Cohen in Cali offering a 5 day workshop to CaliClown plus a group show in Siloé, one of the more difficult areas of town, as well as a hospital visit/show to one of the main hospitals.
Report – There has been a huge growth in clowning, and enthusiasm for it these past years in Colombia. This trend has spurred the development of CaliClown and their vision to address situations in and around Cali that would highly benefit from more Clown activities. Their approach is twofold, fostering a Hospital Clown program, and starting to be active in addressing the conflict zones, both due to civil war, and to gang domination of numerous neighborhoods overwhelmingly housing populations fleeing the conflict zones.
This project called for a conversatorio (presentation by Moshe), a workshop, a show in Siloé and a visit to the hospital.
The convacatorio in the small 80 seat theater “Esquina Latina” took place on Tuesday April 9th to a packed house, with many people turned away from the free event. Moshe offered a 30 minute show, a 30 minute slideshow/ presentation of Clowns Without Borders work, and then a 30 minute question and answer session. The audience was very enthusiastic about the work and there was a hat pass for Cali Clown at the end of it. Big success.
The workshop took place at the downtown Centro Cultural over 5 days, with 12 participants and Moshe teaching. The workshop went very well, all digging in with great enthusiasm and a lot of laughter. There were two lines of activity, developing the volunteers’ personal clown worlds/capacities and creating a show to perform on Sunday in Siloé.
The show in Siloé was a mix of processional clowning, MC’ing by Ilana and Connie with a running “Magia” gag, and a series of numbers created during the workshop.The theme for the numbers was improvisation with newspapers. There were about 70 children and adults in the audience, and laughter was flowing throughout the show!Attendance to the show was complicated by a shootout that took place the night before, and therefore many of the residents didn’t wish to leave the security of their houses, and many above the amphitheater watched from barred windows. The Clowns did a ‘passecalle’ up and down the hill, on narrow walkways to announce the show,and invite the residents to come see. What was a completely empty amphitheater when we got there, ended up partially full. There were many incredible and touching moments along the pathways with the residents not wishing to leave the safety of their residences, short clowning moments that were very touching and important. In a neighborhood where anyone walking by is viewed with fear and suspicion, to see a clown with a nose of waving and sending showers of soap bubbles in their direction proved to be a very significant and cherished moment of levity for the residents.
The hospital visit the next day, Monday morning, at the Hospital Universitario del Valle HUV, was set up as a show in the courtyard with children, parents, nurses and doctors(about 100) attending. Connie, Ilana, David and Moshe created the performance using numbers from the show the day before. The show was extremely well received, many children and hospital staff full of laughter. There were many gifts from the clown gods in this semi-improvised show offering great moments of spontaneous hilarity. It was clear during the visit that CaliClown has established a great presence at the hospital and that their work there is extremely well appreciated.