More clowning around in Cilincing

Today had a great workshop with the kids!  Dan spoke to them beforehand about how I was a special guest here and had come all this way, a very long way, to teach them about clowning.  So don’t be shy and go for it!  Well, it worked (or they had gotten more used to me by now, this being the third time I was there), because they were totally engaged and gung-ho.  Last time they were game to play as well and do silly clown movement – as long as we did it together.  But there was some hesitance and  if I asked them to come up with anything on their own, and individually, they froze up.  This time no holds barred as they clowned around, each one offering their own wacky movement-with-sound idea for us all to do and practicing silly clown walks.  Most importantly, they were having so much fun doing it!  Laughing away and having a great time, everyone together.  Yey!

The people in this little village are very friendly.  Well, they know Dan by now and why he is here – to help their kids towards a better future.   And I’m with Dan, so they need not wonder what this “bule” (foreigner) is doing there.  (Normally, would not be much reason for a foreigner to wander into this poor little fishing community way on the outskirts of Jakarta.)  (Nonetheless, Indonesian people are generally pretty friendly.)

Dan had a meeting today with the parents of the children involved  — to talk about fighting that has occurred between these kids and kids from the neighboring community (an ongoing issue), and to talk about the program in general, the progress the kids are making – with circus practice as well as school, and about possibly building a community center with expanded learning opportunities.  As I have mentioned, Dan has really engaged himself in social outreach circus, in its fullest meaning.  That is, going beyond just juggling balls to juggling the issues of education and work to survive, which to many parents seem incompatible (they need their kids working to help the family).  Juggling the many various issues of life in this community.


In the afternoon, we do a show at the local middle school, which is a religious (muslim) school.  All the girls wear a school uniform consisting of a white “jilbab” (head-covering) and long blue skirt.  The boys wear a white short-sleeved shirt and blue pants.  When I appear in the courtyard, the kids stare at me and start laughing.  Well, it’s not just for the fact that I’m a foreigner.  It’s because I’ve already done my clown hair and it’s sticking out of my head in all directions.  I pass a classroom and all the kids inside burst out laughing—the teacher looks up at them wondering ‘what in the world is going on?!’, and then she sees me, and laughs too.

By the time we start the show in the courtyard, we are surrounded by about 300 students and neighborhood kids.  The response is fantastic, they are really riled up, laughing and screaming at our antics.  At the same time, though, as they are older kids (early-mid teens—it’s the same all over the world, at that age you’re too “cool” for some things), and as they are also dressed in uniform, they are a bit shy when it comes to any audience participation and don’t jump in singing and dancing with us when we play music (such as happened with the younger kids in Padang).  When we go towards them they start backing up and running away.  You can’t be too safe with a bunch of clowns around.  Especially ‘bule’ clowns.  I guess!  At the end I start playing with that, with the littler kids, running towards them on purpose so they scream and run off – then they come back, so that I’ll do it again!  Indonesian kids, I find, more than any other I’ve come across, love to play this “game.”  Funny!

When we’re done we hang out in the courtyard for a little while, to chat with the principal (well, Dan does, I just sit there as I can’t really chat in Indonesian except to say ‘hello, how are you, I’m from New York, great, thanks’) and enjoy some refreshing ice-tea.  Aaaahh, just what’s needed at that moment—we are hot and drenched with sweat!  Some kids gather around to see what’s going on and start to imitate our clown reactions from the show.  They ask my name and as we leave, they’re shouting it behind me running after us and swarming our car.  We have to be careful we don’t run them over!

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