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"Caring Clowns Make a Difference"        •     "Having Something to Share"
"The Birthday Party: A Child's Special Day"       •       "A Path with a Purpose"

 


“Caring Clowns Make a Difference”
Aurora “Bebop” Krause, WCA Education Director
Published in Jul/Aug 2015 in "The New Calliope" for Clowns of America International (COAI)

We all know that humor as a type of entertainment and pleasure can be very effective, but humor in a healing setting where there is loneliness, illness and suffering can it also be beneficial in this setting?  After many years of experience as a Caring Clown, I would say yes.  I believe in the old saying that “a happy heart is a receiving heart” and I’m confident that a happy heart is a hopeful heart.  In a setting where there is illness pain and emotional stress humor can play a very important role in actually living day to day instead of just coping.   My caring clown events vary from a hospital room of one individual to an activity room at a nursing home or a playroom at a children’s shelter of 50 or 100 individuals. At this point the size of neither the audience nor their age really matters. What is clear is that as my clown character ‘Bebop’ enters and a connection is made; this connection opens the heart in anticipation for light hearted fun, play and music.  At every event my clown character is either expected or is entering with permission and therefore, my presence and form of communication is welcomed.  Focusing on the eyes of one individual or many I find direction and energy in the expressions of warmth and delight.  They know I have come to share a joyful and light-hearted adventure with them and they know they’re welcome to join in, or merely sit back and enjoy.     
As caring clowns it’s important for us to know that we can offer humor with a warm and joyful heart in order to open paths which, for the time being, can ease the pain of emotional distress.  Often times a caring clown’s audience consists of individuals who are bitter, sad and frustrated.  These are emotions they’re unable to overcome on their own so they become lonely and depressed. 

And then enters the caring clown and they offer an adventure, a warm curiosity that interests the heart, a pleasant distraction which is playful and inviting.  It may be music, dance, magic or balloons; they know that the clown lacks knowledge about their real world.  They themselves can leave that world for now and enjoy the attention and moments of joy.   Unlike family members and friends a caring clown is removed from having emotional attitudes and ties to their audience therefore the only goal is to focus on them and create interaction that is fun and enjoyable.

It’s impossible to know the specific benefits that a caring clown brings into a hospital room, nursing home or a children’s shelter. We know that faces light up and smiles appear right on schedule when we walk in wearing our funny cloths, big shoes and red noses……
So, do Caring Clowns really make a difference? Yes, we’ve seen the difference we can make!

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“Having Something to Share”
Aurora “Bebop” Krause, WCA Past-President
Published in Nov. 2014 in "Clowning Around" for World Clown Association.

When there’s an opportunity for clowns to do Career Day presentations at elementary schools it’s always an excellent way to educate young children about clowns and clowning in a positive and safe environment. However, we should prepare ourselves for the reactions we’ll get from our fellow presenters.  I do Career Day presentations on a regular basis, my audiences are Kindergarteners thru 2nd grade.  I arrive at the school feeling grateful for this opportunity and filled with an inner peace that’s so important in order to connect with the children and share with them Bebop’s passion and profession.  These Career Day presentations allow me to introduce the “Art of Clowning” to a young audience in an academic setting.  I make certain that my presentation is educational, informative and entertaining.  The school’s goal is to bring professionals from within the community to share with the children pertinent information regarding their professions.
This is how a Career Day event usually unfolds; all presenters meet in the Library at 8am and are given a schedule of the morning sessions.  We’re then taken to individual rooms where we’ll each be making our presentations as classes rotate from room to room.  I do my Career Day presentations in-full-clown, so Bebop is mingling with fellow presenters who may be; college professors, accountants, local news personalities, bankers, insurance agents, etc…..What I prepare myself for are the comments, questions and definitely looks that I’ll get from these individuals.  I won’t go into them specifically because I know, if you’ve been clowning for any number of years, you can imagine the experience.  Suffice to say most comments, questions and definitely the looks could be considered less than kind and unprofessional.
I know that clowning might not be at the top of every parent’s list of professions for their child but for today’s event their young child will have fun and be introduced to something special; the world of clowning.  When the children first see me I capture their interest and attention.  They know that a ‘Real Clown’ is going to talk directly to them and share information about clowning and they’re ready to listen and I am ready to share.
- I share energy and enthusiasm to learn and give them a reason to read.
- I share comedy routines that give them a reason to laugh.
- I share magic routines that give them a sense of wonder.
- I share juggling techniques giving them something to strive for.
- I share what passion looks like and what passion sounds like so they can have dreams and follow their hearts.
In return I get smiles, giggles, high-fives and hugs; they now know that not all clowns are scary.
At the end of the sessions my fellow presenters and I gather in the Library to pick-up our certificates of appreciation from the Librarian.  I know some of them are still wondering why I’m there but too tired to bother with the thought.  As for me, I leave feeling the same way I arrived; grateful, peaceful and satisfied.  I’ve shared a little bit of Bebop’s world with some great kids; I’ve shared the “Art of Clowning”.

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"The Birthday Party: A Child's Special Day"
Aurora “Bebop” Krause, WCA Past-President
Published in July 2014 in Clowning Around for World Clown Association

I enjoy doing birthday parties; they’re the first celebration children learn about, events that will be remembered for a long time. So I want the child to know that I’m honored and excited to be a part of their special day.  Regardless of how many birthday parties I’ve done, I give my very best to every single one.  The birthday child is expecting a clown to add fun to his special day so I’ve prepared accordingly. I may also be the very first clown some of the children at the party have ever seen.  So it’s my duty to make this a special memory for them.
For Bebop any opportunity to clown is an opportunity to honor the Art of Clowning, so a birthday party in someone’s home is just as important as a stage production at a local museum.  As I prepare for my birthday party I remember that I will be celebrating with the birthday child, their friends and their family so my audience will likely enjoy some multi-level entertainment.  I have designed my show for the little ones but I will consider all in attendance when it comes to providing entertainment.
These are some of the guidelines I set for myself when it comes to birthday parties:

  • My birthday parties are designed for children seven and under.  Older children have seen too much and can take the fun out of an entertaining clown show. 
  • The party is typically 1-hour long. This includes a 30min. clown show with a balloon and glitter design for each child.
  • I don’t do more than two birthday parties a day. If I plan on doing two parties I make sure they’re spaced well enough so I’m not rushed from one party to the other.
  • After the initial call I send an e-mail to my contact containing a ‘Letter of Agreement’. This document details the particulars we’ve discussed and agreed on, I request confirmation but do not require a deposit. I ask for such things as space to do the show in and table space to set-up for glitter designs, but I work with what I get when I arrive.
  • I’m at the party 15 minutes before scheduled starting time in order to set-up and greet the children before the show.
  • I arrive with a large birthday bag filled with balloons, one for each child.  I ask the mother to hold on to the balloons ‘till after my clown show.
  • I begin my 30 min. clown show on time and it unfolds as follows:

                     It starts with upbeat music
                     Strong magic routine
                     Audience participation routine
                     Musical number
                     Comedy routine
                     It ends with upbeat music

  • The balloons are distributed while I set-up to do glitter designs for all the children and I place my business cards on the table.
  • I allow myself to have 10 to 15 minutes after the assigned time in case it’s needed and before I leave I’m paid with cash or a check.

My interest in clowning at any celebration is to provide a clown performance that will add fun and positive memories for all in attendance.  When it comes to birthday parties it’s easy to get complacent but I mustn’t let that happen.  It’s most important to remember that it’s a child’s big day and Bebop has been invited to add fun to this special event, I’m honored and grateful, I always strive to give a child’s birthday party my very best.      
Please share your ideas with me, I enjoy hearing from you.

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A Path with a Purpose
                      Aurora “Bebop” Krause, WCA Education Director
published in Dec. 2013 in Clowning Around for the World Clown Association (WCA)

At a recent convention in one of my classes a student asked me an interesting question.  He asked ‘What in your path placed clowning in such high regard that you so confidently refer to it as ‘The Art of Clowning’?  I can’t tell you what my exact response was.  However, I later spoke to this student and he seemed pleased with my response and we continued to share thoughts regarding his original question.  However, for several days after that convention this question just stayed with me. I felt like it was an important question and in the past I’d heard similar thoughts expressed in regards to my views on clowning, so I decided to write about it.
For me clowning has been a calling, it’s never been a job or a career.  I know this because until four years ago I’d been a banker for over 30 years.  My circumstances required the need to earn a living; it was my occupational direction the well-known Monday through Friday exchange for family needs and security, this to me was a job, a career.   Don’t get me wrong I was not able to leave banking when I discovered my passion for clowning.  I was actually a clown and a banker for close to fifteen years.  This worked out well because banking provided the financial support to pursue my interest in clowning and clowning provided me with a creative outlet while living in the much regulated world of banking.  While I was deep in my Monday through Friday predictable world of existence I answered this call, this tug at my heart to learn more about my new found interest in the world of big shoes and red noses.  I was soon learning more about its history and all that clowning stood for and how it might fit into my life. As I continued to explore this great adventure I discovered that it was when I created my character “Bebop” that the doors to my own clowning experience opened up.  I began to learn from those who would become my mentors, who saw clowning as a form of compassionate interaction, a giving of laughter and joy that made a difference, a form of communication to be respected and this served to confirm that I was truly learning “The Art of Clowning”.
Our calling to follow a dream, however different or humble, must be acknowledged and then placed, as my student said ‘in high regard’.  For me clowning is a passion with a purpose to serve others.  This purpose matters to me in my heart both as a performer and as an instructor.  When we live confidently knowing our purpose and having acknowledged the path of our calling it’s the easiest thing to express because it comes from within.
So the answer to the question ‘What in your path placed clowning is such high regard that you so confidently refer to it as ‘The Art of Clowning’?  My answer would be having found a path with a purpose.  I believe that clowning places joy in giving and when we’re giving to something with all our hearts we confidently live it and share it.    

Send me your input; I’d like to hear from you.

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