Robin Lara joins CWB – USA in Cali, Colombia for her very first CWB tour! She reflects on the connections that help audience and clowns triumph during a performance.
Creating A Connection
We have many different settings for shows here in Colombia. We started out at a high school where I was very concerned about a rough audience to start the tour—but they LOVED it! Later, we showed up at a center for people who live on the street and struggle with drug addiction. I stepped onstage and felt a pang of fear when I realized there were no children in the audience. I quickly ran through our entire show in my head, anticipating which sections would be too childish.
What I have come to realize over and over again is that the important part is not whether adults will think a moment created with children in mind is silly, but whether or not we are creating a connection.
During the show, we bring up several audience volunteers. Usually people are reluctant at first, smiling but shy. They are cheered on by their friends to be brave and join the clowns onstage. Anyone who’s done this knows how scary it can be. Our job as clowns is to create a moment in which they succeed in front of everyone. In which they get to be the hero.
I find these to be the most powerful moments of the show. The center is full of people who have been dealt a rough hand, and don’t have much success to enjoy. But when the clowns come in, we create situations in which everything they do is not only right, but to be applauded. They cannot fail. We fail so they can laugh, and then we bring them up to shine.
I believe this is one of the reasons people are so touched by our visits. After our show, a worker comes up to tell us that many events happen at the center, but we’re different. He tells us that the energy and love we bring with us is special, and we’ll be remembered. That our love will be returned to us manifold. I know he’s right, because I feel it every day. When our show ends, the audience becomes a sea of hands formed into hearts, pulsing energy and happiness onto the stage. By the time this worker shares his thoughts with us, our love has already come right back to us.
A Reminder to Play
The people at the center say they’re happy to be treated like humans. We look them in the eyes, we hug them, we break out in crazy applause when one of them shows us he can juggle, we find things to joke about right away. We remind them how to play. I think it can be surprisingly easy to forget how little it takes to form a connection, and I’m happy to be reminded. I’m gonna keep trying my hardest not to forget.