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  • Robert Beck

Oop-La's Journey

How did we get here? How did three little clowns who just want to make an ugly world glamorous get to this place?

The road they have taken has twisted and turned like a twisty turny thing on a dark night when you have had too many gin and tonics and don’t remember the way back home. It has not always been clear where they were going. Sometimes they got lost. Sometimes they fell over. Sometimes they picked themselves up and found a new direction.

They wanted to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help them find their way back to the start. To leave something for future generations to watch and see and think “ahh…that’s how they did it.”

They started at the start. Although it wasn’t really the start. It was nearer the middle. The first week of rehearsals but actually it felt like the eleventh!

Monsieur Gaulier, the clowns’ guide on this journey, who wasn’t in fact their guide at all but was actually there to trick them into walking into the swamp where they would die a wet and sloppy death, says that play is the most important thing. We did play. We took the fish outside and played catch with him in the sun while a mother and child watched on. Play was all we did. Apart from when we didn’t. Then we worked. But always fun work. Apart from when the work made us cry.

As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned back into days, the clowns found that “something was happening.” They had wandered lost in the woods for so long that the woods had started to look familiar. One of the clowns had read a book that said that being lost can become a comforting feeling. They struck out in a new direction, unsure if it would take them where they wanted to go. Eventually they found themselves at the edge of the wood.

Then the clowns left the wood and wandered in the sun for a time. They were distracted and found they had no time to play. One of the clowns played with Shakespeare while another fought off an army of small goblins. The final clown drank wine and read books on philosophy whilst sewing a red, velvet curtain. Yet being separated only made their will to come together again stronger. They reconvened at a new place. A tall building atop of a great bridge with pink and orange and green walls. The next stage of their journey was about to begin, and the clowns rushed to see each other like friends who had been parted for many years. In fact, they had only been parted for three weeks.

Now was the moment we had been waiting for. The moment of our giddy ascent to greatness. Where we would take to the stage and perform our magnum opus in front of an old red lion who would decide afterwards whether he would eat us or not. The set was made. The show was created. Our faces were white with fright and also with makeup. We sat up on the terrace eating food and chatting while below we waited for our moment to arrive. It arrived late as all clowns do. Then suddenly we were ushered into the black room. Awaiting the start of the show as if awaiting our execution. We stepped out. We nearly tripped over. The thoughts that had rested in our heads for so long were now part of the world.

Then the clowns did it again. Another night in front of the old red lion who had enjoyed their show so much the last time that he wished to see it again.

And now we come to the last chapter of the clowns’ tale for now. Their final dance where they were filled with such mirth as they marvelled at the woman called Maud. This was the home the clowns had hoped to find when they set out on their journey all those months ago. The beautiful room with its faded glamour and plush seats from a time long passed. It felt like the clowns were communing with the ghosts from the past in a space where “temporalities are porous.” They called forth the voices of the dead and reconstructed scenes from films so old that none of the clowns’ parents had even been alive. They brought to life the dead and finally became one with their heroes.

And this is where we leave our little clowns. They are still journeying forward but will do so under their own banner. They are still friends, although there have been some punch-ups. They are still collaborators, although they are embarking on quests alone. Ultimately, they are very silly and do not know where they are going. They will probably fall down a hole and die very soon.

The end. Or is it?


Ahmed, S. (2006) Queer Phenomenology, Durham and London, Duke University Press

Campbell A. & Farrier, S. (2016) Queer Dramaturgies, London, Palgrave Macmillan

Gaulier, P. (2012) My Thoughts on Theatre ex Tormentor, France and UK, Éditions Filmiko

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