In my work as a performer and teacher of the Sacred Art of Clowning, I found that fear, awkwardness or just feeling vulnerable can either become a barrier or a gateway to creative expression. It all resides in the attitude. If I ignore my vulnerability, I split myself from my human reality in this moment, taking me away from authenticity into pretending. Another possibility came to me slowly through my personal experience.
I went through stage fright before performances, especially in the beginning, and I asked myself, how would a sacred clown look at this? He would say 'First, go inside to the roots of your being and listen to the silence'. So I listened. Something was happening, thawing, melting.
Was I surrendering? My legs shook and trembled. I began playing, clowning with my fear. From then on, I played with my vulnerability in performances; fear was not an obstacle anymore. It had lost its seriousness, there was now an opportunity for enjoyment. I progressively came to realise that fear was very much a key in the transformative process of opening up to a Sacred Attitude, bringing humility and simplicity to the heart.
The clown is allowing himself to be vulnerable, to become truly naked to the present, to become empty. Then openness, an unstained perception can manifest, a veil is lifted to the realm of innocence and wonder. A sense of gratitude and a reverence for all things and all people emerge. Love and compassion fill the heart, carrying him, he feels held, as by an infinitively loving mother, holding her child.
In that sacred space, everything is alive, and becomes a source of creativity. A dull face in the audience, a balloon exploding, a light-shadow on the floor, dust flying in the air, a bald head shining… Everything around him starts to tell a story, taking him on a journey into the unknown...
A forgotten microphone stand takes over the stage. He feels left out, laughter in the audience calls him, he waves his hand, the stand is now looking at him severe and grave, and he shrinks under its power…
A story unfolds, where every object speaks, where everybody contributes, where there is an invisible link between all things and all people. Enchanted, he becomes an instrument being played, in service of the unseen. This is Magic. This is Sacred Art. This is the Sacred Clown.
© Didier Danthois (London & South East Connection -Aug 98)