‘The work of a clown is to make the audience burst out laughing’: learning clown at École Philippe Gaulier

Amsden, Lucy C. E. (2015) ‘The work of a clown is to make the audience burst out laughing’: learning clown at École Philippe Gaulier. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3109731


This is the first full-length study of clown training at Gaulier’s school. I take literally Gaulier’s statement, ‘The work of a clown is to make the audience burst out laughing’ (2007: 289). I interpret this to mean that the relationship with the audience plays a defining part in clown practice. Throughout the thesis I consider clowns to have audiences, and argue that the presence of peers in the classroom is a key feature of the learning.
I take into account the individual nature of learning, by examining my own experiences learning Clown at the school, and comparing this with the experiences of other writers and a selection of practitioners that have given interviews towards this project. What I call a pedagogy of spectatorship focuses students’ attention towards their classmates, who are audience to everything that takes place in the Clown classroom. Gaulier’s observational skill and charismatic teaching style can enable students to perceive audience laughter and silence as crucial feedback. I demonstrate the audience role in three areas of clown practice: complicit play, the ‘flop’ and the use of the body as ridiculous. I argue that the École Philippe Gaulier provides lessons on the skills necessary to listen to audiences, so that each student can discover the ways in which she can ‘make the audience burst out laughing’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Clown, pedagogy, flop, complicité, play, ridiculous, actor training
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Murray, Dr. Simon and Heddon, Professor Deirdre
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Lucy C E Amsden
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6372
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2015 10:37
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2015 11:06
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6372

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