Two years ago, I crossed the lines of writing about the arts -- which I’ve done for over 20 years as a journalist -- to being in the world of the arts. At first, it was a very strange, curious and out-of-my-box experience to be on the other side.
It was Oshi, my clown alter ego, who took me to the other side. Of course, that’s one of the key things an alter ego is good for: to do something completely out of your box. And clowning – medical, educational, social – was definit
“Leepa and Oshi are coming!!!!” one pupil shouted from the front gate of an elementary school. Within seconds, a gaggle of pupils from first through sixth grades crowded the gate chanting a welcoming cheer for us, educational clowns. “Go straight. Turn to the left. Come to us. No… go straight. Turn to the right. Now straight. Come to us.” The excitement rose and rose. So, we – Leepa and Oshi – slowed down our walk towards the gate. The anticipation only grew. A teacher up on
Mr. Peacock introduces me to Barb. Well, it isn’t really an introduction.
He points at her and says, “she’s the school drug dealer.” As an educational clown, I get to meet today’s youth on their turf. I am allowed – and sometimes invited– into their space. I view it as a great privilege to be able to connect with them. To see the world through their eyes. After all, most middle school kids and high school kids wouldn’t choose to hang out or share their stories with a 43-year
Therapeutic clowning has fascinated me for years. As a journalist, I have the good fortune of meeting people from all walks of life. Every time I interviewed a therapeutic clown, I left the interview thinking, “I want to do that.” I first met medical clowns when I was a print journalist, early in my career. I would meet them again as a television correspondent, then as a radio host, and again, years later, as an online news editor. There was something about this art form that
I don’t work on Sundays. While many people around the world don’t work on Sundays, in Israel, where I’m based, Sunday is Day One of the work week. For the past 20 years, I’ve worked on Sundays. As a freelancer, when I take on new clients or enter into new collaborations, I make note right away that I don’t work on Sundays. People inevitably ask why that is. My answer: I’m a therapeutic clown on Sundays. I spend my Sundays in a high school or mental health center, hoping to ea
My school clowning took me to a high school in a low socioeconomic neighborhood of a central city in Israel. The students, we had been told, came from broken homes, single-parent homes and from homes struggling to make ends meet. The youth that greeted us – five newly-minted therapeutic clowns, still learning the ropes of clown care – were just as curious about us as we were about them. Some welcomed us to follow them into their classes, to meet their friends, to open up to u
Educational clowning is a new kind of clown care and taking part in this developing arena is oh-so-much-fun. One recent afternoon, pint-sized people came to try out after-school activities at a local community center in Tel Aviv. There was a movement class and a sorta-ballet class on offer. These little people were excited and nervous; happy and angry; hot, tired and hungry. The parents shared many of the same feelings, with strain and exhaustion topping their lists. A fellow
The new school year has begun in Israel, and as my third-grader and two sixth-graders headed back to their classrooms, I, too, returned to studies. They wore T-shirts emblazoned with their school symbols; I decked out in my “uniform” of striped socks, polka dotted shirt and neon suspenders. I’m continuing my clowning studies. In June, I completed an introductory course to medical clowning at the Kibbutzim College in Tel Aviv. Medical clowning is an officially-recognized parap
Waiting for the doctor is an activity no one enjoys but nonetheless inevitable. So, what happens when a group of therapeutic medical clowns comes to wait with you? The adage is that time flies when you’re having fun. And that’s exactly what happens when my clown care peers and I show up at a medical health clinic. Today, we arrived at a women’s and children’s health clinic in Ashkelon. We come to relieve stress, bring a smile to people’s faces and help create a more relaxed m
For the next three days, I’m going to stand in 30C-degree weather, in a sweat-inducing costume, with layers of makeup on my face, on a main street, with the hope of getting total strangers to crack a smile – or, even, a smirk. This is my inaugural attempt at being a living statue. I’m not a street artist or busker. I have no juggling skills. And, I can’t play any instrument. But I can get people to smile. I love the challenge (and success) of inducing a smile. Near the end of