It’s been over a week since I got back from Gaulier.

And I haven’t done a summary of the final Clown course… but fuck it. My basic summary is “I missed most of it due to having Covid”

But what have I learned from being at famously most brutal clowning and acting school in the world? (that’s what it’s famous for, not necessarily is)

As I came back home to Edinburgh, I jumped straight into the mad world of the International Fringe Festival.

And as I went into doing 1 to 3 performances a day (in a mixture of acting, running workshops, and improv comedy) I’ve started to feel the impacts of the training…

It’s hard to say exactly what I’ve learned, in words.

The best way you can get an idea of the teaching is probably to read back over my previous blog posts I wrote as I was in the thick of it.

But there have been clear impacts on my performances, I feel.

When I try to explain the learnings to people, they don’t seem so impressed…

The fact I’ve been 6 weeks at Gaulier is impressive to them, but when I describe the learning they are nonplussed.

It makes sense…

We are speaking different languages. The terms I use sound “surface level” to others, but those of us who have learned under Gauiler know the depth and difficulty that even these simple terms describe.

Like “pleasure.”

At Gaulier, pleasure is the foundation. If you are not “feeling pleasure” in what you are doing on stage… get the fuck off the stage.

This is extremely difficult to find in the classes.

The atmosphere is harsh.

You know that you will be sent off stage within seconds. You aren’t sure what you are supposed to be doing. You are confused and nervous.

A hard situation to feel pleasure in.

It’s rare to stay on stage for even 30 seconds before you are sent off.

But, as I have returned to performing with “real” audiences — people who are watching your performance because they want to be entertained by you — it’s a lot easier to access that pleasure.

Every laugh you get from the audience is nourishing as a performer.

Every minute you get an audience member’s rapt attention feeds you.

Every second you’re not being insulted (albeit in a funny way as Gaulier does) becomes genuinely enjoyable.

Perhaps this is a core factor from Gaulier training. One that we just couldn’t have known about when we were deep in the courses…

Compared to being in the harsh dynamic of Gaulier’s classes, the real world is many times more generous.

I’m pleased that I chose to book myself to go back to Gaulier next year when I was still in France.

At the time, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about returning… tired as I was.

But I can already see that, by next January, I’ll be keen to return to that harsh environment.

Keen to return to an environment where brutal honesty and extremely high standards are the norm.

Until then, I can already see how bringing pleasure to my performances is changing them… subtly but fundamentally… for the better.

And I look forward to other of my Gaulier learnings seeping out into my performances until then.

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