Day 9 of Bouffons at Gaulier.
One thing I’ve learned about myself in these past couple of weeks is that I am not comfortable with uncertainty.
I’d go further than that. I’d say I function extremely badly with uncertainty. The more uncertain things are, the worse I function.
When I know what’s going on, I tend to function okay.
When I know what my role is…
When I know what’s expected of me…
When I know where I stand and what people think of me…
… I’m able to function pretty well.
But when things are uncertain and I’m not sure what’s expected of me, I struggle…
Or, as over the past week or so, I almost completely self-implode.
There’s been quite a lot of uncertainty in the Bouffons course. And also in my life that serves as a backdrop to the course.
Today in Gaulier’s class, for example, I felt there was an extreme amount of uncertainty.
The class was supposedly a rehearsal for the presentation tomorrow. This means the individual or partnered performances of a crude religious text, supposedly which we are meant to deliver in the style of a parody of “a bastard” (a person we despise).
I thought I understood those instructions. But then, I didn’t.
It wasn’t immediately clear what was going on today, but I figured that I’d wait until a few people had gone up before presenting my own piece so I could feel a bit clearer.
I never went up.
As each actor went up onto the stage, Gaulier bonged them off for various reasons. Often giving them changes that completely pissed all over their carefully prepared piece and the core idea behind it. A few times, the person wasn’t even allowed to give their piece any space to actually show the idea they’d created, because it immediately didn’t conform to the idea of the character that he had in his head.
Some stayed longer, some stayed shorter.
A couple even did quite well, but mostly I couldn’t tell why things weren’t working.
In all, I felt, it was often completely unclear what was expected.
As a result, the clarity that I was expecting to get from watching people go up didn’t arrive… in fact, my uncertainty became worse.
I noticed my confidence dropping.
I noticed my unhelpful thoughts kicking in.
And I noticed, for one of the first times ever here at Gaulier, I was completely at a loss of what it is he was looking for (not just a little bit at a loss). And, to be frank, whether I really give a shit what he’s looking for or not.
Perhaps this is part of the process.
Maybe he intentionally is ambiguous to create uncertainty.
One of his quotes from today was “If you enter the stage thinking you’re funny, you’ll flop immediately. You must enter with Mr or Mrs Flop around your body, not knowing if it will fail or not.”
The Flop is when things are not going well on stage.
Personally, as a teacher, I like to create clarity in my students. And maybe that’s because I suffer so much personally when things are unclear.
I know Gaulier is supposed to be harsh. I understand the game of the insults and what he achieves with them. But, it seems, the complete uncertainty that he creates sometimes is an area where I struggle.
Though perhaps if things were less uncertain in the rest of my life, I would have more strength to handle the uncertainty in class.
But, sometimes we learn the lessons that we need to learn at the time that we need to learn them.
And I guess this week, one of the lessons I needed to learn was that I struggle when things are uncertain.