I have been dying to tell everyone about the experience I had last month in Calgary Canada with my friends form Texas, The Circus Freaks Clown Theater at a mask workshop hosted by Loose Moose Theater Company and Steve Jarand.
We spent a week producing paper mache masks and working on performance in half and full masks using the guidelines from Keith Johnstones Impro book and Steve's experience with trance masks technique.
It was really a great place for me to dust off the mask skills with learned with Leticia Bartlett in Clown Conservatory and get to see things we didn't have time to get into during Clown Conservatory in practice. All the physical work we spent time building experience with payed off in my ability to communicate emotion in a full mask using my body to express. These things have also taught me to pay more attention to the body language of people around me in general. Honestly it makes me feel like I am being nosey and invading someones privacy just by looking at them and knowing they are 'burdened by the world' or 'quietly satisfied and content.'
I spent a large percentage of my time wearing a half mask that we nick named the demon mask. This demon taught me a few life lessons while we were together including:
1) I Am Entitled to Taking Up Space
I participated in a scene with two other masked actors where we were on a love seat together. After the scene began and the masks had been "woken up" I really felt like I deserved the whole love seat. I've been trying to carry that feeling with me since the workshop.
2) Screaming Feels Good
Part of the practice of trance mask technique involves making the sound that comes with and/or, matches the facial expression your mask is making. The demon masks really screamed a lot in earnest. I don't think I have screamed as much as I did in this workshop, ever in my life, even as an angst ridden teenager.
The thing about it that really amazes me is that the act of screaming, the vibration in my chest, actually feels awesome. I had never noticed how it physically feels to speak, sing, breath, or scream before.
3) Screaming Together Feels Good
In another scene from the workshop myself and a friend from the Circus Freaks dawned two demon masks together and just screamed at each other. While this was going on I felt an extreme sense of belonging and cooperation with another being.
4) Where did these scrapes come from?
At the end of the workshop we got to choose a few masks to take with us on an adventure to the park. I chose to wear the demon mask in the park several times in which I apparently climbed three trees and used pine cones like grenades and screeched at birds. It was really awesome to get to use the strength I have been developing through aerial and acrobatics training to be truly animal without judgement of myself.
Overall I think the time I spent with the demon has taught me to live as a more empowered and confident person.
One final joy I experienced while Calgary was, getting to play with my friends from Texas without physically being at an event one of us is hosting, or me wrought with the emotional baggage of being in my home town. It was so lovely to meet and play in a fresh place.
While in Calgary we celebrated my lovely partner, Russell's birthday at Charcut steakhouse and went to see the Loose Moose Theater Maestro show.
ALSO I am usually at Looks - Costuming on Haight 735 Haight St. on Thursdays if you need any help with costume projects in the future or in this upcoming Halloween season.
I have been living in the bay area for 3 years. What a three years it's been.
It feels like every decision has led to this point. As I walked up the stairs to circus center today, to open the building on the first day of Clown Conservatory 2020 I thought about learning this place existed while looking for jobs in 2016, about how nervous it made me to even come into this place and how real the impostor syndrome was. Seeing Sara Toby Moore's the supers clown conservatory final performance in April that first year was such a delight and the first encounter with Clowns I had experienced since the Circus Freaks in Texas. Seeing that show reminded me how important the clowns I met had been to me and that they really were the best people in my life at that time. Doing this work has made me a more buoyant human being.
It is wild to me that I now have the job I actually dreamed about being able to get when I moved here. I tangibly remember the real fear of failure I had in even trying to move to San Francisco at all. So many people told me not to do it, or that it wouldn't work out, or that my relationship would fail, or that I would end up moving back to Dallas. I was so afraid of failure but I took the plunge anyway, there was a lot of crying. When I first got here I moved in with a couple I met on craigslist. Long story short I learned a lot of about the legal system and have a new BFF.
My first job here was as a tour guide in the china town/ downtown area, talking about the sunken ships under the Niantic building, the fortune cookie factory, and the history of the transamerica building. That short lived work was a crash course in the history of my new home. Next I interviewed with Costumes on Haight and worked there for their Halloween season and stayed on to cover if they needed extra hands. At SF Mercantile I learned so much about how businesses actual work and the processes that need to be in place to make it happen. My Manager there taught me so much and I am so grateful for all the opportunities to learn about business. in general Haight Street has been so good for me. I really appreciate all the business owners and/or managers who taught me something about being a leader in the workplace but also in a community.
Not even a year after I moved to SF one of my family members got really sick. it has been difficult to focus on living my own full life when I also want to be there for and with them.
Through another room mate I was connect with the wonderful folks at Get High on Mountains
there has been some amazing travel in the last few years. Each of these trips and places really deserves its own blog post/journal entry.
Making the decisions for myself to go to Clown Conservatory is potentially "The Best Decision I Have Made in my Adult Life." This also deserves a whole other long post.
Looking into the future from here feels good. I was recently awarded an immersive theater artist residency Through Underland with Epic Immersive in SF and I wrote, produced, and acted in (ouch), my first original theater production. I look forward to collaborating with them more on projects in the future, and boy do they have some fun stuff planned for winter! I want to extend a HUGE thank you to all the amazing people who came to see that pilot show. I'll be posting here and all over social media as soon as we have finished tinkering with the script and are ready to put on a full fledged version!
Two of my graduating classmates from ClownCon2019 and I have been working to put together our own show, I cannot wait to scream from the rooftops about this when it gets off the ground.
Last but not least, I am finding my way (largely through skills I learned in Clown) to lean into the fear of making things, and be willing to make mistakes or to not know how to do things right. I feel free to be creative again which is really lovely. I think I lost myself there for a while. It's good to be back.
Kenna M. Lindsay
P.S. There are so many people I want to thank for existing, and so many more things that could be said about my time here and the people I have met. It's been difficult to make time to write this post so hopefully I will continue to find time to write and share my thoughts with you. I have a goal of posting updates more!
I'm so excited to announce the final show this year for Circus Center's Clown Conservatory will be:
Written by Sara Moore, Directed by Joan Howard and Hannah Gaff.
At the San Francisco Circus Center on March 28th, 29th, and 30th, 2019.
When I have more information I will definitely be sharing that here and all over social media!