Depending on the size of the hospital and how busy it is on any given shift, clowns will spend a bit of time walking the halls. If it’s not busy at all, clowns may spend time hanging out in a particular hallway. Any interactive performance requires the actor to be “on” at all times, and this is inherently true in hospital clowning. Hallways are by nature transitional areas-people are always on the move, including clowns, so what can you do in the hallways if you’re supposed to entertain but people are in transit?
The main hallway floor in my former children’s hospital had large colorful circles of various sizes. One of my fellow clowns used to have us only walk on these down the halls, warning anyone who went by that it was dangerous to walk outside of the circles. Two of our most mischievous clowns loved to have us walk several yards behind unsuspecting people in a semi-empty hallway and say “Psst!”. When the people turned around, we’d look around at the walls as if we were in a museum. On our 15th anniversary at the hospital, all the clowns showed up in fancy outfits and had a huge celebration, so naturally the hallways became a parade route.
There are times when the hospital census is down (yay!), so it can get quite slow, but people are still walking the halls, so it’s a good time to just hang out there. One of my favorite clowns used to love to take this opportunity to applaud passersby on their walking. If there was a group, he’d tell them they are required to step with the same foot at the same time...and they would do it! If anyone walked by with rolling luggage, he would direct them to their gate and warn them that their flight was about to take off.
Now that I roam the halls on my own, I either challenge myself to juggle all the way to my destination, or I put a music player in my pocket and dance around with a gymnastic ribbon. Sometimes even busy security guards will slow down and join in the dance!
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 program in 2014. She is Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds