Resilience training – through laughter - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

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“Connecting with others and connecting with who we really are, finding our own rhythms and giving ourselves permission to laugh is a wonderful process – and it can teach us resilience when times are tough.”

Clint Bolster has been a professional clown for more than 20 years and he knows what he’s talking about; he’s speaking from experience. A survivor of childhood violence and trauma, as a young adult he nursed two much-loved grandparents through terminal cancer. He credits school teachers with helping him to connect and to laugh, a process that has led him to become one of our most popular clowns.

“Through the clown characters I’ve created it’s as if I’ve found a way to give myself, as an adult, the childhood that I never had,” he says.

Even better, he shares his hard-won wisdom with others, through productions featuring such characters as Booff, the Mask Family, Sean, and the Knock ‘em Downs. He also runs Resilience Training Through Laughter workshops, which he’ll present at Redland Museum on June 21.

For part of the workshop participants will interact, with guidance, while wearing full-head masks which Clint says is a wonderfully liberating experience.

“Initially some folk will resist, but with support most of them will put on the mask and the reaction afterwards is usually something like, oh my gosh! I can do it! I DID it!” he says.

“The anonymity of being masked makes it so much easier to relax and laugh and connect with others. Even without talking we can learn to read each other’s body language. One of the joys of learning this way is that we work as a group but carry away with us some individual self-knowledge. It may not be an instant epiphany, it may take a few weeks to unpack it all, but we can all learn.”

Clint says that he would particularly welcome an older age group to the workshop “because they often miss out and aren’t sufficiently supported, particularly those going through pain, physical or emotional. I want people to celebrate their bodies on stage, with whatever limitations they have.

“For some, just getting the confidence to come along is a big win. To get up there, have a go and get other people laughing – that’s a win. Laughing at someone else’s performance is a win – it’s not about ticking boxes, it’s about making authentic connections and exploring the possibilities. The lunch break is crucial, that’s when people can talk about what they’ve opened in the previous hours and come up with ideas for the next session. Then at the end of the day we can unpack all that we’ve discovered – and have another laugh.”

While no acting experience is necessary to benefit from the workshop, actors will find ways of bringing themselves and their own passion to their work and channelling it into their performances.

“Basically, it’s about play, abandonment and laughter – the joy of being a child again plus the wisdom we gathered from life.”

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