Today was a pretty great day. All three shows were in IDP camps and at the second show, everyone participated. There were more adults laughing and playing with us than we’ve had at any other show. The level of call and response was so great, it energized all of us and we found more moments within the show to really play one on one with the audience. It was so nice to see all of the generations enjoying themselves as if they were all children again.
As we walked along the beach in Cotes de Fer. I saw a small boy, maybe five years old running and pushing a tire over rock and sand, barefoot and in worn clothes. He was precious and we exchanged glances, a wave, and a smile from afar. As we continued to walk we saw women filleting tuna and red snapper, boats carved out of trees and the ocean, a radiant cerulean like I’ve never seen. We sat in the shade and here comes my distant friend rolling his tire proudly. He shyly approaches and sits a small distance away, just observing. I slowly approached him and in my limited creole asked, “quijon rele?” he replied Ouidsi. I gestured to him to show me his tricks with the tire and I ran and followed. Then I tried to play the game myself and ran down the beach with his tire. Then we sat on the rocks and put zed around banging stone on stone. I made him a gyroscope out of old fishing line and a rock and we played.
His sister wandered over and spoke with Kristi. Kristi taught her the game that Pedro had showed us earlier, “chocolate.” choco choco la la, choco choco te te, choco la, choco te, choco la te. Ouidsi wouldn’t play at first but when his sister tried to show him the game, he got excited but wasn’t getting it, she got frustrated and gave up. Then I jumped in “avec mua?” We played for a long time and he got it. We laughed and then it was time to go. I was sad to leave my new friend. He was shy and observant, like me when I was his age, I think he could feel that about me, I was non-threatening, and very interesting looking because I am a tall, blonde, white woman. What a wonderful moment in time. What a lesson in the joy of simplicity. I’ll miss you Ouidsi.
We went and performed for a polite school group. The school was minimal, to say the least. Pieces of slate for chalk boards, planks of wood for benches and all enclosed with cement walls and tin roofs. They marched out single file and looked with calm attention. Later we performed for 600 kids at a catholic school. We had a stage, it was wonderful, the auditorium began seated but by the end of the show they were crowding the stage. They ate it up.
The third today show was out of control. We pulled up and my friend, OUIDSI!, was outside so I had to get out. I played with a small crowd of children. Ouidsi had a chain about twelve feet long of rubber bands quadrupled in links. He gave me a couple and we played cat’s cradle. Then we jumped rope in the street for a while with the chain of rubber bands. Ouidsi gestured to play chocolate and then kids began crowding and hugging me. Kristi also got out of the car and developed a crowd around her as well. These kids were almost fighting to be the one closest to me. They looked up at me with bright souls shining to connect with this big white stranger that wanted nothing more than to smile and play with them. Then it was time to do the show. We accumulated over 700 kids, too many to fit under the roof of the CFS (child friendly space) we had to do the show outside. At one point we had to stop the show be use they were swarming in too close. We regained control but for a moment it felt like a riot could ensue, children hurting each other to get a better look. It was the only show thus far where we couldn’t take volunteers for fear that it would incite too much jealousy and create conflict. We made it through the show with a few minor changes, finished and made it to the cars. It felt like a true initiation into the Clowns without Borders tradition. It was a test for our group but we made it through, rather well, I thought. After the shows we drove to eat and saw multiple kids in multiple places trying to juggle rocks. We inspired them to play and practice a new skill, very cool.