The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit [as they were called when I started] not only provided us with good pay, they also paid us to attend monthly rehearsals which included artistic development and group therapy (to help us along with sad hospital situations). They also covered a trip to the biannual clown conference at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, where we got to know fellow clowns from other states and participated in workshops led by professional clowns from places like Brazil, France, Russia and Germany.
Even having been through that wonderful experience, however, I must not get complacent and assume that I’m an expert. No artist should ever think that their learning is over, because it’s never over. Hospital clowns that are not working with such an organization must procure their own resources for artistic growth. It may be difficult to find such things or to cover the cost of these opportunities, depending on location, income and access.
An online inquiry can start the process, but it is also necessary to “think outside the box” when searching. One should not assume, for example, that queries should be limited to “hospital clowning” or “circus workshops”. In many of my previous posts, you’ll notice that a variety of talents can be used in hospital clowning, so it is not obligatory to get training strictly from a circus source.
If classes require too much commitment, seek out workshops. Sometimes local music schools, dance schools and theatre troupes invite an outside artist to hold workshops over a weekend. There are also arts and crafts groups that may be working on a project that can be useful in the hospital and cost is minimal. Many cities also hold annual performing arts, improv and visual arts festivals which are excellent opportunities not only for master classes, but for networking with local artists you didn’t even know where nearby!
Seeing live performances, whether at the aforementioned festivals or any community center, is also necessary for the artist. Not only can they be inspirational experiences, there are sometimes opportunities for a question and answer period with the professional artists, which can lead to the procurement of more resources.
Meet other artists, practice what you have already learned, but continue to add to your list of talents, whether it is acting, dancing, singing, improv or traditional circus skills. Seek out opportunities for perpetual growth; enjoy what you do!
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002 and an improv performer since 2003. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds