Clowning itself is outside my comfort zone. Clowning in a Muslim country at refugee camps next to Libya is really outside of my comfort zone. But to clown without having time to put on costume and makeup is so far out there that I can’t even see my comfort zone!
Before going to Morocco people advised me to “Keep a low profile” and “Don’t draw attention to yourself”. Good advice, but what about when I am wearing a bright yellow wig and big blue eyelashes in a country where most of the women wear head scarves? All I could do was laugh when I stood with our small group from North Carolina on a street in Morocco waiting for a taxi minutes before the nearby school was going to be released for lunch. I will save that story for another time.
I want to tell you about a day in Tataouine. (Yes, of Star Wars fame; and there are many cool Star Wars sets still open to tourists!) During the revolution in Tunisia, 2011 -2012, we worked with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both paid and volunteer work. We found a school open for Tunisians and Libyan refugee children in the town of Tataouine, next to the Sahara Desert. We hoped to make a contact at the school and be invited to entertain in the future.
Why wait for the future? They weren’t busy. They welcomed us and asked if we could do something right then! They didn’t even want to wait for me to get into costume and makeup. They were ready for some fun!
I wasn’t! I couldn’t clown without the makeup! What if I wasn’t funny? Seriously, they would be looking at ME! I usually get nervous before events, but this spontaneous show had me shaking in my sandals.
This is what I learned that day: The clown is on the inside. I was not hiding behind the costume and makeup. Quite the opposite. The makeup reveals Mimi the Clown because she is inside of me. Mimi is not a costume and makeup. I am Mimi.
Understanding that truth has set me free.