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  • rileysoloner

Historical, Personal, Performance

Last night I explained to ellena some of my fears and doubts about a new creative leap. This is something I do often. She takes in my extended blurts and responds with simple questions that cut to the core.

As you may have read a few days earlier, I’m holding some internal conflict about this growing clown scene and my reluctance to dive in. Folks on the coasts are raving about their clowning classes and the hot new shows in town. Small, intimate theatrical clowning performance and workshops are blowing minds. It’s bringing people together. Scenes and community are forming. There are pockets of prolific genius originals producing shows — some of which are going all the way to Edinburgh Fringe. I’m tuned into numerous comparisons to the way improv captured hearts and minds.

A fanatical devotion to improv actually worked out in my favor better than it did for most people who went that route. But still. I can’t help but feel burned, burnt out and kind of embarrassed about how I went all in for so long. Maybe that comes with the territory of being a 35 year old guy looking back at his 20s. But I see myself orbiting the burgeoning clown theater world and I feel a self-conscious ick. I feel hope and dread. I love theater community. I love funny creative people. I don’t love how I boxed myself in to an insular scene and community when I live in a city with infinite scenes for mingling and experimenting. Or how I so snobbishly aligned myself with a place that ended up being kind of a dick to everyone who put their love and care there. I don’t love how I put so much hope and faith into an unimaginative path rooted in comparison, competition and careerism.


And so ellena asks: “So, is this you just running away from what you really want?”


Great question. But you know what? No!


Because there’s a deeper intimidation rumbling beneath hopes of acceptance and finding my place among a new scene. There is a looming discomfort that I cannot, will not find a way to express that this shit means more to me than “hey, new friends and getting silly on stage!”

I have an idea for a project. I can’t tell you about it yet, partly because I don’t know what form it will take. I keep coming back to a quote in this book about clowning. I’m paraphrasing: “In order to create, you must have a philosophy. In order to have a philosophy, you must have a sense of history.”


All I know is that I see a triple Venn diagram: Historical, Personal & Performance. I’m trying to find a way to develop my philosophy by better understanding history in both a world and personal context. Finally, hopefully, from that understanding comes a satisfying, substantive ripe opportunity to perform something original. Something I can really be proud of.

It's reading overly serious when I describe it in these terms. It would be good for me to remember that a great majority of my writing and performances that I’m most proud of are stupid as hell. “Stupid done smart,” as I like to say. That’s the balance I’d like to strike.

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