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THE STRINGENT REPORT CHEZ GAULIER THE MASTERCLOWN

(written and unedited between October and December 2017)

SUBTITLE: At the cost of running the risk of setting up something deeply sacrilegious (as the eerie air, I may say, that surrounds the likes of this internationally renowned school only amongst internationally unknown people makes one feel that he should think twice before embarking on any report about it), I shall guide myself and the occasional you through the intricacies of living for a couple of months in one of those small French towns which, shall it disappear, nobody would notice or care to affix a necrology in any other town, while hosting a rather diverse group of performers (we all managed to afford this school, so the differences mustn’t be THAT far) from all over the globe.

SUB SUB TITLE: all content is posted on the day or on the day after the day it should have been posted. Hence, some things might repeat, or some other things might be repeated, just like the last sentence. I own everything is written here, including spelling, grammar and sentence construction mistakes. And punctuation

CONTENTS

DAY 1 DAY 15 DAY 29 DAY 43
DAY 2 DAY 16 DAY 30 DAY 44
DAY 3 DAY 17 DAY 31 DAY 45
DAY 4 DAY 18 DAY 32 DAY 46
DAY 5 DAY 19 DAY 33 DAY 47
DAY 6 DAY 20 DAY 34 DAY 48
DAY 7 DAY 21 DAY 35 DAY 49
DAY 8 DAY 22 DAY 36 DAY 50
DAY 9 DAY 23 DAY 37 DAY 51
DAY 10 DAY 24 DAY 38 DAY 52
DAY 11 DAY 25 DAY 39 DAY 53
DAY 12 DAY 26 DAY 40 DAY 54
DAY 13 DAY 27 DAY 41
DAY 14 DAY 28 DAY 42

DAY 1 - INTRODUCTION

SUN OCT. 15, 2017

I have landed in the glorious Charles De Gaulle airport, dripping in champagne commercials and adverts about Chinese air companies with Scarlett Johannson as testimonial, only to realise I should have landed in Orly to cut 60% of my trip to Etampes (that the autocorrect duly turns in “Stamps” each time I mindlessly type it, thinking that we have reached an internationally agreed autocorrect function on portable computers), which from CDG is a mere 2 hours through myriads of banlieus that make even the not so socially and politically aware think in his mind “Hey, this feels very odd, as if the French are pushing other French outside a certain border of the city on purpose??” . It is ok. Everybody is very differently dressed compared to the Berliners I usually have to cope with. People here have the decency of wearing shoes and generally look like we are in the XXI century. It feels like here people might somehow be judged by their appearance. Berlin is known for the open-mindedness of its people: after all, it saves energy, it is sustainable and it spares a lot of awkward conversations.

From the 17 sqm, one bedroom closet that I am writing from, I can hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner being nearly violated through the flimsy walls. On the train to Stamps, I met a girl who will also spend 2 months (“or maybe more, who knows!”) chez Gaulier the Masterclown. She is from London, so I aptly demonstrated, through the use of intellect, that the city of London is a slaughterhouse, a carnage, a crime against humanity; after what I thought was a compelling one-way conversation on the human nature of Londoners, she pointed at the pink sunset falling over the bright autumn leaves, never to turn back to talk to me.

Once I touched base with the French town, at first look looking like a fish town with no fish nor town, I felt scared. In response to that feeling, I plough through my tasks as though I knew exactly what and where everything was and is. I met my landlady, who seemed to either be shy or just did not want to talk to me, and then run for my life before every shop or person in this island of peace would shut down. It was 8pm. I caught the Carrefour (the French equivalent of any grocery store equivalent which is comparable to itself) right before it closed. As I rebelled to buy garlic for 5 euros, I had to give in to the family size croissants pack. A credit card here is called “carte bleue”. Like a VISA for non-Europeans.

I went back home and unpacked everything. I mean, I made this tiny apartment more liveable by spreading my socks in all corners. I am planning to use the microwave as a fish tank.

At about midnight on a Saturday night, I went to sleep while I could hear the sound of other students or just regular French young people going through puberty and their reggae phase, or maybe just anal, have the best time of their lives. I was temped to go out and buzz a few buzzers and crash some party. But it felt as though I had chosen my path for these two months: seclusion and the ironic reporting on my experience Chez Gaulier the Masterclown in the city of Stamps. Which ultimately requires that I find time not to have a good time.

But in the night I was stricken by lightning. It was my turn on stage: Gaulier the Masterclown was the judge of the French Masterchef. I cooked him a very plain pasta with tomato sauce (I only have a tiny stove, how could I have done better?), and my special, boiled garlic (boiled garlic???). Gaulier the Masterclown was everything but impressed. I had failed my first task. Overall, my dreaming night was pregnant with défaillances and struggles; am I being damned for reporting on the internationally unknown Clown school of Stamps? And why is Clown capitalised? Tomorrow, the opening day, might bring more answers.

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DAY 2 - IN THE DARK

MON OCT. 16, 2017

As I awake with my hairdo looking like a French rooster, suddenly questioning the steps that brought me to this very point, I realise that I am not as chill as I project outwards. The night was again parody of the importance that I give both to my life and to the small city of Stamps. I dreamt that I was in a huge school in construction where finally students and teachers meet (some friends from Berlin are there too - as to mean, you won’t get rid of us that easily) in a wooden pub-like structured room where the main Masterclown is introduced by its adepts with a fanfare of farts and jokes about his scrotum. I am nevertheless impressed and I thank the Muse of Comedy for such a heart wrenching experience. Since in my waking state I had to use the toilet, I meander in the huge school that seems to be now more like a Microsoft type of building with open cables everywhere, looking for a pissoir. The toilet is blocked under the order of somebody who a woman defines as his “cheating husband”; I guess more on the meaning of my dreams in a different outlet.

Last night, as I was binge watching soccer to avoid the reality of the small town of Stamps, some music emerged from behind my walls: it was a perfect rendition of that one Amelie soundtrack that we all know about with a harmonica. What goes on behind the closed doors of the city of Stamps! What goes on outside is very clear: taking a walk in the surrounding areas, through fields and apple trees, I realised that a lot of outdoor activities in the city of Stamps revolve around sexual encounters and playing the lotto; the clues were very obvious and oddly adorned an otherwise rather pretty natural setting.

I am going to my first day of school now. Which means, I am going to attend my own personal comedy decapitation now! Wish me luck!

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DAY 3 - BEFORE THE SKY FALLS

TUE OCT. 17, 2017

When you enter the tunnel of space time, you do know it but you do not know it in the same way you thought you would have known it before entering it. I’ll leave you time to re-read the sentence and choose to leave this page if necessary, make a tea, call your mother.

Perception makes sense because this is what you have in that moment. The memory of a different perception is present, but what matters is that perception in this now is different from the one you are recollecting. This is all very well. But what has this got to do with the glorious city of Stamps and with his Gaulier the Masterclown?

Before entering school yesterday, I went to the park like a retired man, looking at ducks in the progressing autumn. I felt out of place, nuts, deranged. I did some pull ups to remind myself I am a man. Then I sighted at the memory of my (alive!) father who had arranged a scholarship to study economics in Switzerland, and, looking back, probably also a gun license. One millisecond before I entered school, I was still in the same mood. Then I entered space time and I did not change of an ounce, a decibel, a calorie. As though everything rearranged around my mood. “Enough wishy washy 1970s new-age perception bullshit!!”, you might say. (who are you? and why is it relevant?) This is 2017. City of Stamps. It’s time to recount the Gaulierodies.

Ok, fast-forward to the moment after I told most people that my glasses have transition lenses and so no, I am not a moron who changes glasses during break time. Gaulier’s flip FLOPS with no flip entered the small courtyard where everybody feigned tranquillity. The British contingent of students was soon to be tested with Gaulier the Masterclown’s comments over the sorry state of their culture of apology and overall sorriness, punctuated by the occasional sorry after having said sorry.

We were all in awe and laughed nervously at jokes that could have never landed had the stereotypical Marc Moron or Luis Cgay or Bill Burp said them. Philippe has PLAISIR, joy in insulting and in pretending to insult, and in pretending that he is pretending to insult. We all went up on stage in turns, doing games, ultimately doing what one can never learn enough: to play with pleasure, like a child, and to nurture something special, “because without something special you can only do bed and breakfast and pay it yourself”.

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DAY 4 - ACCEPT ME NOW!

WED OCT. 18, 2017

The famous spot for all buddying and more advanced students chez Gaulier the Masterclown is the Café du Depart in front of the glorious train station behind the castle facing the mysterious, enticing but otherwise boring city of Stamps. There, some other students and I managed to obtain a reduced price on our beers, from a thunderous 2,90€ to a mere 2,40€ per small beer. We worked so hard for it that we did not even have to ask for it. We exuded a reduced-price sort of aura that magnetised the barkeeper.

There is a strange sense of confusion that is beginning to pervade me (already!), but I am promising myself not to let it take over. This is not a confusion that necessarily derives from within, but it comes from without, as if elicited. I have heard before of the strange paths that the mind takes while under the influence of the apparently innocuous city of Stamps.

My confusion comes from the fact that there seems to be a need to be accepted, even loved, when in a new environment, and everybody works most zealously to find the affirmation that can allow us to keep on living in peace within this new social setting. My confusion equals to the discovery that, just by going on stage at the internationally unknown school of Gaulier the Masterclown in front of a bunch of students, and, despite being liked by such students, failing to actually be engaging on stage, in short, by feeling that my mask of charm and generosity might be slipping away under the hammering techniques of the Masterclown, I actually care about being the best. This sense of caring, of wanting to be loved and appreciated, makes me angry.

It is too early to say, but it is precisely this care that we have for our own acceptation in society that might end up ruining an act, a song, a poem. We, the people, are voyeurs and love to see other people having a ball with whoever they are, to see somebody engaged with the present as much as making them forget about who, where, and why they are. A moment of bliss away from the heavy mundanity that surrounds us at all times, unless you are having opiates, good sex or, at times, even reduced-price beers from Café du Depart. In the words of the Masterclown, “even a tragedy is not sad. The situation in the tragedy might be sad, but the game in it is never sad”.

After a walk in the city of Stamps, that is also famous for an adventurous path through some chopped trees (a faux forest), and being as controlled as not to bite my nails but instead use a nail clipper, my mind cleared out a bit. We are all struggling to show others that we are functional. We have all created ways through which to navigate life as though we are bounded entities. We have learned how to cope. But have we? Have we really learned how to cope in spite of ourselves?

And, can I have another reduced-price beer please?

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DAY 5 - SERIOUS PLAY

THU OCT. 19, 2017

Am I second guessing myself? Have I always been disingenuous? What if the pedagogy I was exposed to in the past fucked me up forever? Am I really that bad? Why can’t I let myself go? Was Stanislavsky really an idiot?

These are but a few that the typical Gaulier the Masterclow student sees popping out in is head, seemingly out of control. The impulse to follow such questions to the bitter end (until they obliterate any expression of joy from one’s face) is very strong. I will be of guidance to those who might be facing such questions regardless of Gaulier’s influence thanks to the help of Gaulier himself. “If you follow the complicité, then you will not lose the ball”. Which means, instead of asking yourself questions, deep seated and rooted in the Western mind, ultimately proud of doing mental acrobatics over fluff, as though your existence was of no concern to yourself, let go of the control that your mind exercises and play with the pleasure of a child, and enjoy the lie of being lying, be beautiful in the failure to be beautiful, enjoy and don’t think. The Ego, the mind, the self, all of these guys, hate it so terribly, because it reduces them to being not so relevant with their fluffy questions.

Breathe, follow the core of your body, and be loose. Or something like that.

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DAY 6 - A BAG OF CHARMS

FRI OCT. 20, 2017

The split between adepts and traitors seem to become more definite. As the days progress, the simulation of interest as opposed to the actual hookedness of the school experience becomes more evident. People start to kiss Philippe on the cheeks, others instead prefer the Movement classes with Carlo, a living remake of a Roberto Benigni costume.

Most classes are rehabs for people who never played as children. Yet, with age and boredom, it feels like playing belongs to a bygone life that was never our own. So, really, why not. Friday is dedicated to Auto-cours, in which students show what they have prepared for class. Most of us have not prepared much: however, it is a good chance to recap the week that has just gone past. Let's see what the shizzle is all about.

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DAY 7 - STOMPING FEET

SAT OCT. 21, 2017

Naturally, the Friday after the first week has to be about celebration. Celebration of what? Of the fact that we did the first week, and it is a Friday. I suspect that this Café du Depart owner makes as much money as the school chez Philippe the Masterclown. A secret deal in the secret city of Stamps.

There are all kinds of people here. People who desperately need to find work but instead choose a school without clear working prospects; people who absolutely do not believe in the core concepts of the school but find it good for their CV nonetheless; people who are without the shadow of a doubt, 100% convinced that Philippe the Masterclown is the best choice of their lives and that this experience “is radically changing them”; people who are people and are getting on with their lives based on the fact that each day can bring a teaching if you are responsive and having fun with your life, and the school, for this matter, is a microexample of that wider field. I am all of these people because I have written this paragraph myself.

As for the latter category, yes, nobody really teaches you how to have fun in life, since “out there is only shame and grim prospects”, which is particularly true if you are internally fighting between wanting to get a high salary job and being a creator, mostly in London, Paris, New York, BRUSSELA. But why is the title “Stomping feet”? Because, if you do stomp your feet, you block the lightness of the play. Because the body can direct you towards a mental state that turns mental separations far away from the reality of existence. Because we are more than our beliefs.

But here comes the INFINITE REGRESS (only valid in academia and amongst very intellectual people, for whom finding more problems is more gratifying than finding peace) : the naturalness of pleasure and play can be seen as “just” a belief in TODAY’S POST-REALITY, MULTIVERSE-ORIENTED, RELATIVISTIC society of indifference, right? Well, then, one can keep on believing that everything is miserable and use it as social currency: but that is a belief too! And I doubt it will inspire other people. So maybe this idea of playfulness AIN’T THAT BAD.

So, the lesson is quite clear (to me, yet the write up could be better). If you stomp your feet, your pleasure will be low, and if the pleasure is low, the performance is low, and so the money will be low. Keep your feet light, and let pleasure do the rest. Like, paying your bills.

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DAY 8 - A SHORT RESPITE

SUN OCT. 22, 2017

Here we are. The first weekend off in the city of Stamps, under the supervision of the Masterclown of France. It is a weekend dictated by the good humour and moods the goodwilling students of both the first and second year, who try pleasantly to get together to celebrate a jump into the dreaming mind of the playful child. Who knows for how long such festivities will prolong.

I am on the train to Paris right now, really taking the excuse to meet a friend to get away from it all. As the train coughs its first trails away from the station, the glorious city of Stamps reveals its creepy graveyard, hidden below the imposing castle, watching over us, people with more dreams than shoes, in its orange glow.

Just as this sudden appearance, a shadowy realisation dominates my day: that it might all turn nasty very soon, when the summer camp vibe will innoticingly drift away from our hearts.

Or, is my heart pregnant with foreboding which need not to be, as each destiny is written in the thoughts of the present it describes?

The mysteries of the heart intertwine slowly with the soon to be winter in the unfathomable, unpredictable, gothic city of Stamps.

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DAY 9 - FISH OUT OF WATER

MON OCT. 23, 2017

The impetus to write fades as I cannot make much sense of the events revolving around the city of Stamps and its renown Masterclown. Some of my nights during the Gaulieradies are made of long, infinite cavalcades of dreams to reach a morning coffee, over which I complain because the water, humidity and overall sensation of wellness are lacking, then my bones are hurting, my spine is changing position, I am hungry, I want to rub one out, etc., etc. …

But last night I dreamt of fish, which I never dream of. They were swimming on a small gulf beach I had never seen before. The beach was golden, vital, and the water calm and blue. Then, behind a small forest of mediterranean trees, I see a wider basin with completely transparent water, as if water was air. Small fish were swimming everywhere, to the point that I could not tell whether they were in or out of water.

So, was the fish in or out of water? Am I a fish, and is this city water or air? There seems to be a blurring sensation running through my veins and my eyes, the sensation of not knowing if I need fins or lungs. In short, am I buying this? or am I being dragged down with the fish for a healthy swim?

Note for today: Gaulier the Masterclown's Sister Claudine is not equal to an actor. The actor has a 9 square meters of aura shining around itself.

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DAY 10 - SWIMMING IN THE SHIT

TUE OCT. 24, 2017

If one has a big ego, people will hate him. If one has a lot of ego, infinite ego, so much ego that nobody will adventure to even consider that this person might have less than what he is showing, people will love him. If one does not have enough ego, because ashamed of it, or censoring himself, or for fear of hurting other people, then he will live in ruin, or will hopefully and eventually resolve not to be a performer any more. Only the ones who fully accept their ego will survive in this masquerade of talents. Yet, it is not the ego that will direct the course of his actions, as the purpose is not to have the ego on the saddle, but to let it breathe fully.

We are getting to the point of the course in which likes and dislikes are changing, in which each and everyone appears to finally abandon their friendliness for a real sense of discernment, or at least of not-so-unconditional-love. At class, some of the students pop up consistently, some of them appear temporarily like meteorites, some of them are stuck in the darkest side of the moon. Souls and egos appear and disappear under the indications of pleasure. One could call pleasure the “spirit” that moves the action towards wild forests and unthinkable seas, a search for a holy grail of sorts, made of stripping down to the bare bones of playfulness, as if to find a character that has always been there, which has been wearing all kinds of dresses imposed by societal pedagogy, habit, stress and bad food.

Resistance plays a massive part in this search. That is because resistance is the known upon which we have built the edifice that has ultimately pushed us to apply to this school as this building was either leading us nowhere or it was boring ourselves to death. This search is not easily taught at any other traditional school: it is the search towards an élan, the falling in love that first brought the performer on stage. To be the receptacle of the spirit, of pleasure and of, in short, what makes one happy to do for himself and for others.

But then, you might ask, going at the bottom of it, why aren’t you guys, you performers, already actors of pleasure, of fun, or complicity, of reciprocity, of good fun?

Because we need a school to tell us that we don’t really need a school.

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DAY 11 - FEAR

WED OCT. 25, 2017

It is becoming extremely harder to be the Virgil through the hell of Stamps. Hell is where paradise seems so close and yet one is not worthy of its sweet promises. The sweet promise (forever unfullfilled! The hook to pursue the study here! Oh Oh Oh! THE PROMISED LAND OF COMEDY!) is to find pleasure. The fulfilled promise of the Gaulieradie is however that if you are not European, and wish to study under the supervision of Gaulier the Masterclown, entrusting him with the good use of your money, you can get a sweet Visa at the beat of an eyelid.

ANNOUNCEMENT: at this point, I cannot be your impartial guide any more because my sense of certainty is being challenged by the search for pleasure. If taken intellectually, this search can only be deadening. This is why the Virgil within me will not be reliable and, instead, his observations and moods will sway under the unbalance caused by the inner rebuilding needed to embed pleasure in a different context.

BON! Now that this preamble was made, I can lead you to the access door of all of the doubts that derive from this search (“the search is you, and not in this school!” wink wink): if in my clothes (read: garment) of stand-up comedian I had to deal with the tentacles of self-deprecation, here I have the overflowing, unmanageable power of pleasure (yet to be found) to contain. If, before, my stand-up peers would make fun of themselves at times mercilessly, here everybody strives to shine of a light that is bountiful and pleasant to themselves. In short, we try to find that inner spirit that directs the focus towards ourselves (as self-deprecation does) but in a way that highlights our inner beauty.

If this did not hook you I do not know what could!

What is pleasure and what is fear? The goliardic Gaulier student might find himself facing such questions, including, “shall I get a therapist NOW?”

People are going through different tragedies of sorts. I am now for instance a “small dog homosexual piece of shit” because I do not know how to either use my voice or how to find my rhythm in my text. At least in front of the Masterclown.

His personality is of great fascination to me, as it is to anybody who has met him. So I am not really saying anything new. I have already witnessed a couple of instances in which his mere presence and his attitude of “petty tyrant” would trigger explosive reactions, especially of rebellion and anger. The Masterclown embeds all of those images that dominate our minds, which, in turn, must be dominating my mind too. He is the lightning rod of all wishes and desires. Point is, when asked about how to cope with the fear of going on stage, the Masterclown suddenly shared his memory of past fears and especially of throwing up on stage. He then eerily stated that fear can kill an actor. But, ultimately, if you tell fear to BIBIBABUBEBABUBE, you can have fear as your friend.

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DAY 12 - THE SECRECY OF SPONTANEITY

THU OCT. 26, 2017

Now, Thursday is the day when the Masterclown “is in the garage to make sure everything still works”; automatically, the students and the general mood of the school is lighter. This pedagogical choice allows the more troubled clownees (like myself and everybody else) to play free from the threat of the septuagenarian Masterclown’s razor-blade comments to hurt our porcelain souls.

Back in the days, on one day of my baby days of stand-up comedy, a stand-up comedian showed up, did his set, did very good, then I went up, and I did not so good. He then stood right in front of me and asked me how I felt. I probably feigned confidence and told him that I felt like all was good, because, ehm, I knew where I did wrong, that failure is good because it pushes you to do better. He listened patiently, then said, “Yes, yes, but I think I can only learn when I do good. This whole idea that failing is good because it helps you understand where you do wrong is bollocks. I exclusively learn when I do well. Because experiencing the good helps maintaining the good”.

I was outraged at this guy, who was unorthodox and plain, superficial and simplistic, and most importantly, right. Yet, beyond the anger, I knew. Getting a sight of heaven, for as infinitesimal as it might be, teaches a thousands lessons more than learning about what's not going right. The same holds true in the spontaneous city of Stamps, city that keeps on being elected the most spontaneous and yet, the most secret amongst the million of cities of the world.

That became apparent to me when I asked a question to Carlo, the living Roberto Benigni costume, the teaching substitute and regular teacher of movement class (I have not yet dared asking a question to Philippe, symbol that my life as a young male adult has not reached its full realisation, and might risk not to). Carlo’s ways are not as definite as Philippe’s. He never focuses on one person and never gives clear explanations. Chez the lessons of Gaulier, one gets explanations that however go as far as “one must have good fun” and “this was horrible because I felt like farting in the bath”.

When I asked Carlo about the meaning of “Will”, which he mentioned while describing one of the student’s performance, his voice suddenly lowered and his mumbling became apparent. He spoke of “Will’ as of a looming presence behind one’s shoulders, which is responsible for freezing and directing the actor’s action in a way that disallows the fun of encountering fleeting and beautiful performing options. But he suddenly stopped himself and said that it is better not to get into many explanations, and that examples will lead the way.

That event opened a door in my mind. All exercises so have been lacking a clear explanation. Or better, they have, which is pleasure. And yet…ah, the secrets of the internationally unknown school of the Masterclown.

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DAY 13 - TOPS AND FLOPS (part 1)

FRI OCT. 27, 2017

“You have to come on stage like a bad student”, sentences the Masterclown to a poor performance. Humility is a value that is taken in by pride. Pride swallows us all. never heard this one, pretty good. There is some reason to have pride when Gaulier the Masterclown praises a performance. His praise is just what it should be. The agreement that something special existed. He never “dribbles with anybody’s balls” when the merit is theirs. He is as impeccable as Castañeda’s Don Juan. The only moment when he could have been hateful was when he pretended to forget Lecoq’s name, but this is for the nerds in the room.

The shimmering city of Stamps shines with the stars of the autocours, the day of student presentations. There are 4 apparent categories that I seem to notice in terms of the student’s performances:

the tops (the ones who really seem to reach a moment of beauty in their performance),

the double (or triple) zeros (the ones who look like they should have stayed in bed),

the saveables (the ones who, with further instruction during the performance, are able to find a spark),

the ones who did their job (the ones who were fun to watch but did not fully gave voice a beautiful moment).

I went to the hospital yesterday morning so I thought I was going to flop all the way. But when I asked the second generation Congolese doctor whether I should get a radiography to the foot I hit whilst exiting the shower, fearing it might be broken, I heard this reply “if you are in Congo, I’d say no, but here in France, I say, certaiment!”, so grab what you can, when you can, because your one and only task is to keep on running in this flowery forest of mistakes. And worry not about the fact that you might have broken a foot, because we have the technology to cure you.

The oscillatory waves of ego (and pity, that are one and the same), determined a day in which people surprise us, but mostly surprise themselves, with sudden sparks of beauty and complicity. The students are now hooked on the pleasure-seeking business. Gaulier the Masterclown keeps on impressing me and everybody else with his rude, obstinate kindness that erupts from the depths of his experience and intuition, and he is always to provide the necessary information to explain without explaining. The intuitive city of Stamps, hosting the internationally unknown school of the Masterclown, watches over and below us, like a magical nervous termination of the the sempiternal city of Paris.

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DAY 14 - TOPS AND FLOPS (part 2)

SUN OCT. 29, 2017

“Guilt is the opposite of Clown,” shouts the Masterclown in a self-evident tone, as if to make sure that everybody is on the same page (but, apparently, the person on stage). The second year Friday autocours is pregnant with explanations which, however, still are sounding sibylline. Yet, more or less, we know it: feeling bad for yourself or another performer on stage is useless. It can only make you even more pitiful. And annoying. And gross. And stuck. And.

There are moments in which eternity is contained in every instant. There is something non-corrodible about human nature. That is why we can still read a classic or ancient book and connect with a character, or an emotion (unless you are looking for the trendiest instagram account to inspire you creatively, in which case, why did I even bother to write it, you are clearly unable to read or comprehend the fact that there always is more than one level to a conversation. Gosh, I really care too much about human waste. Pearls to pigs).

Human emotions, even when humans won’t exist anymore, are everything we can comprehend the world with; that is why emotions are practical. Especially when watching a performance, holding emotions in, or hiding them, or making them look contrite, triggers hate or annoyance, or indifference if one is lucky; or, again, dear Instagram holders, you have forgotten how to judge correctly, because you say, “oh, I thought the show was interesting and everybody is free to express her or him or it or them of both selves or agh I forgot what I wanted to say ”, so you are of no use to us, so please, leave. To hold emotions in is the job of self-pity and self-importance. They belittle everything that is great and magniloquent in this world of colours and cockfights.

It is the weekend and, by definition, every weekend, especially on a Sunday, is mysterious and psychedelic in the gothic city of Stamps. Jean François, the eccentric “la vie est fantastique” barman du Café du Départ, handed me a glass of whiskey at 2.39am and then told me to go straight home. The city of Stamps seems to be hiding horrible secrets at night; in that moment I felt that the smell of sweat, semen and violation that comes out of the “only gentleman belching” bar across the Café is not as innocuous as it seems.

What I could not explain to Jean François was that I was returning from a trip to the far side of Stamps, by fields that only later I recognised being the fields I walked on my first day here. The stars were as close as I have never seen them in a long time, and my lonely walk made me feel as though I was approaching them. Looking up and laying down on the strip of concrete of this dark agricultural dream, I saw the headlights of a car in the distance approaching, pointing at me. I raised quickly and walked away. But the car followed me and pulled over: three policemen with rifles came out of the car, stopped me, then searched me and the field as though I had just committed one of those horrible crimes Jean François was alluding to.

Upon being released, I returned to the pulsating heart of the city of Stamps, where the trail separating dream from reality is vanishing increasingly faster…

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DAY 15 - WELL, YOU ARE JUST AN ACTOR

MON OCT. 30, 2017

The city of Stamps and its Masterclown make their students happy. Students are happy to discover, a word of which meaning has gone void ever since self-help books and bad post-colonial critiques took it over. As one discovers pleasure on stage, they also realise that something else, something deeply personal, changes.

And then, BAM! People witness miracles more often. So what is it? A cult? A sect? An irreversible parcour? People experience raptures, illuminations, deep-seated discomfort expressed in the form of wanting to punch or fuck violently the first people they see on their path.

So, change. The Masterclown is a parody of a teacher, while serving as the most effective teacher.

The Masterclown is past judgement.

The Masterclown looks at each and everybody.

The Masterclown recreates a familiar environment where to experience traumas. A thing we dread as we dread pain.

But do not forget, you are just an actor.

“I am the king of the stage, sorry about that, I have the best pleasure, and I get paid the most, and I am loved the most. Sorry about that”.

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DAY 16 - NASTY NEIGHBOURS

TUE OCT. 31, 2017

“Regardless of what you do, have a good spirit”. The Masterclown has a wisdom that the anxiety of a searching student can destroy. The life crises that are being set in motion are mostly due to the cut-throat effect of a Masterclown, who openly told the BBC that each generation produces only 2 or 3 “real” clowns. The rest is just history’s wreckage.

This answer might have been a jolly prank played to an overzealous journalist eager to extrapolate rational content from the aphoristic Masterclown. Be it as it may, on a Halloween in which a sensible French lady called the fire brigades on the innocent bonfire made of mulled cider, the Masterclown’s inescapable comments are that pungent as we want him to call out the spirits that we have been hiding all year round. There is a wilfulness to fail, to die as to allow rebirth.

All the students know exactly what pleasure is. Some of them are on Instagram. But all of them know exactly what pleasure is. Some of them look for God’s validation by trading stocks. But all of them know what pleasure is. Some of them want to be better than others, while point blank denying it. But all of them know what pleasure is. Some of them want to be serious and dissect what pleasure is, to make it non-fun. But all of them know what pleasure is.

But to know what something is, one has to finally allow it to die. Just like the bonfire (of which mulled cider was an extra, not included in the fee for the school).

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DAY 17 - NOT FOR EVERYBODY

WED NOV. 1, 2017

“Back in my days, between 1968 and 1972, you could really be crazy. Today you can’t because there are no jobs”.

As we look at the cars who seem to be racing against each other in front of Café du Depart, a setting which is now not just a setting, but the reality we have chosen, and as Jean François goes around the bar with a torch, probably going downstairs to add water to the bier, the city of Stamps speaks to minds through the Masterclown.

Pleasure is normal. It’s what keeps life going. It might not be the best, but it is, at least, not a sickness. Gaulier the Masterclown states clearly that personal life is separate from theatre. The latter is the domain of imagination, as there are no practical consequences to what goes on on stage. When you bow, at the end of the show, Lady Macbeth has already gone back inside the book. Theatre cannot cure depression or any other sickness. You need to be fit for theatre. And you cannot bring your sickness into the theatre. We must be friendly, to one each other, and to ourselves.

And the Masterclown begins his sentences with “I remember”, now, “when in 1971, in Czechoslovakia we were looking for bananas, but the Communist official forgot to sign the permit for us to get bananas. Eventually, some old people brought us two bananas and we could begin the show with. Our show had no sense, no point, we had no interest in being political, because everybody seemed to have something important to say at the time. But when we broke the bananas, the young people stood up and applauded for 50 minutes! They thought we brought a show inciting the break from communism. Well, it was not our intention, but we had a good time.”

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DAY 18 - STAMPS, STRICTLY

THU NOV. 2, 2017

As Thursdays set once again the spirits into High School modes, probably making the 18 years old feel they will have to play till the rest of eternity, and possibly making me feel like I have made a long series of backwards steps that brought me here, the longing for the outside world visits us once again.

Stamps, with its Masterclown and his platoon of adepts, its limited pedestrian routes (some of the world-breaking record for the tightest walkways are being set here), knocks at our minds with its leaden skyes.

As the students now reach the breaking point level of needing to eat each other’s bodies as a way to escape the jittering of their brains, clitoris and frenuluses, some have already left this situational pantomime, which occurs more in the outskirts of the Masterclown’s aura than during his classes.

The atmosphere of love is a flimsy one, for humans always want more than what they get. And if they do get love, they ask for more, which is heaven. Or, they’ll do anything they can to prove that what they are getting is not real love. Or, they go live in Paris where they can romanticise the small city of Stamps and accept the other student’s love unconditionally.

There are people questioning the choice that they have taken. Others have gone. Others wait for the moment in which, “all of a sudden, BAM! They get it.” And they don’t turn back.

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DAY 19 - PARIS, PLEASE

FRI NOV. 3, 2017

Improvisation never stops, like everything else. Full stops are silent killers.

I jumped over the barrier at the Station of Stamps to get the fast train to Gare d'Austerlitz straight after class, a Friday class that all comedy deities seem to have disregarded. At the Parisian station, I could easily walk to the Seine and cross it to go to the right bank, the rive drôite. A poulet sandwitch; freedom from doubt; the promiscuos, purple roofs walking towards Bastille. Why Stamps, why not this, why has our search brought us here, why is my mind not as clear as when I walk alone under the full moon, flooded by lunar messages probably not meant for me.

Paris brings back memories of lovers, lost trains, restaurants closing early, stale bread. The people spread like billiard balls in the streets, some kitchen porters smoke a cigarette imported from Bulgaria, squatting, hesitating, as though waiting for the very last wave exhaled by the Black Sea. I pass by Rue des Archives, distractedly pretending to be a passer by.

When I was younger, my father used to speak to me of enthusiasm. He was clearly warning me about some facet of growing up. The enthusiasm that seems to wane from the eyes of the people facing screens, tablets, tableaux, regrets. The omnipresence of time, time endless and time rapturing pleasure. Pleasure that comes from owning, accumulating, composing, acquiring, becoming our own image, an image that is a perfect rendition of automation, of our own desire to escape ourselves, our feelings, our pain, only to create a pleasure "made in China"; the European confusion that thinks that tolerance will save us all while it instead will destroy any semblance of kindness, acceptance, empathy, in short, an Instagram sugary dream, a mask with no face behind it.

Away from the Masterclown, society seems a trick we played on ourselves in order to make it hard to have a good time with our spirits. The obsessive questioning of why we are here is a sign of our time. Tense as we are to want meaning, we cannot breathe easy to let it enter our spirits. The gothic city of Stamps' frost envelops us all as we search deeper into the night for our meanings, pleasures, or just weed.

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DAY 20 - MY FIRST MILLION EURO

MON NOV. 6, 2017

The people who call Donald Trump “Donald J. Trump” probably respect him. The city of Stamps hides in its alternatively sunny squares tomato sellers and Georges Pompidous, great improvisers of the art of making money and to support a façade of trustworthiness in front of the gullible audiences. Authenticity, the stage, finding your clown. For who, and for what? To be an actor and to be prey to yourself and the world, which makes money with a scheme against itself?

The “vendeur de pommes” recited the mantra that next year he will have made his first million euro, meanwhile he works for the same boss who runs the other food stall, “do you see that?” The Chinese and the Turkish are bargaining in the multicultural city of Stamps, only to later realise that this is an entire pantomime based on food, mistrust and paper bags. “Stamps is so racist”, says the Donald J. Trump supporter, “and also strange. I have told my aunt ever since I was six that I would never spend one night here, even if you paid me. Try these clementines, they are cold, but ready”.

“How can you be so ugly and so uncharming? You are Italieeen, no?”. It is true, the Masterclown hits really hard on all of those sensitive spots that will forever kill you if you are a sensitive runaway. Did I say sensitive? Sometimes it is better to die than to die forever. But the best is not to die at all.

{acquires poetic tone} Under the stairwell I went to access the garden for my jackets I purchased at the local car booth sale of Stamps had a perfume resembling the gutter of the Café du Départ before and after the weekend; therefore, some fresh Stampeding air from Stamps was needed to reinvigorate the said jackets. A sad clown was whispering for help from across the other door, which was opened in an instant as I knocked with forlorn savour faire, as I felt humiliated by the comments of the Masterclown and his spastic drum. The sad clown opened the door, looking marvellous for an instant, showing the plaisir of crying. As she recomposed herself not to look too stupid and vulnerable, she concernedly kept on trying new clothes to please, I would say please, frantically also, I would say, the master clown who said that “we could not really see you on stage”. Clothes for a clown to claim her child. The streets of the Masterclown are infinite, not like the ones in the city of Stamps, old, gothic and solitary town sleeping in forgetfulness.

The Turkish tomato seller, supporting Besiktas and Gary Medel, is 22 and has two kids, he has given up on marijuana because “otherwise his wife beats him”, and, while awaiting his first million euro, he would stay away from the city of Stamps. “There is a big psychiatric hospital here everybody goes crazy for”. A tautological warning from the foolish city of Stamps.

DAY 21 - YOU WILL MEET A SHORT BROWN BARBUDO

TUE NOV. 7, 2017

November in the city of Stamps is like November in any midsize, midwestern, midamerican midcities: midfucking boring.

We as students are now parroting the Masterclown, repeating his sentences out of sheer muscle memory, a sign that young age and originality not always go together. I look out the window and see a struggling sun, once again won over by the 2-storeys apartment in front of mine.

“You are as boring as a Dublin priest who raped 36 children and buried them in his garden”. The Masterclown speaks from the height of his experience. It is, indeed, very boring to witness the rupture from Stanislawsky. Actors seem to be struggling to understand how does one perform “charm”. Or, how to be charming. Spending time here makes me feel unable to be an actor, which would have been fine if I really was an actor. If I was an actor, I would be at least unlearning something.

Most of the time, and despite the Masterclown’s assertion that one does not learn a style here, one seems to be learning a style here. The style of not having a style. “Lecoq was never funny. He started to be funny at 2am at my place after a lot of bottles of wine. I said started!”

As for the turgid air in the misty city of Stamps, where British boys refuse the embrace of desperate “fuck me now” ageing actresses, it is now clear that the town might be a dormant ISIS cell that has forgotten to wake up.

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DAY 22 - IN FRANCE WE SAY “FUCK YOU”

TUE NOV. 7, 2017

There is much to be said about tasting what it means to take a risk and to make it work in front of the Masterclown. Not only one manages to temporarily break through the veil of fright that his aura provokes in the entire room, but once one does that, the Masterclown is pleased with the result, which makes him somewhat constantly elusive, despite his role being one of the most straightforward: he is a teacher. He is at the same time himself and the student’s mirror. His tireless performance makes the one angry at his comments feel that he or she is punching the wind; that performing is a very practical, yet dreamlike, endeavor; that all enemies lie within.

“In France we don’t say sorry, we say *Fuck you*. It’s good to say fuck you, you are allowed to *say fuck you, I am bad!*. You are allowed not to know. You are allowed to be bad. You don't have to be ashamed to be bad. You have to follow your way. After, you start to discover the pleasure to be free."

I was nearly brought to tears in class because of the lyricism that sits underneath the grimace of the raucus old man. And the Masterclown would probably not agree and call Sigmund (Freud). It’s a game. It has ego and self-importance, but if you forget the game...you are out.

Leroy Merlin, the bricolage shop, can be seen from all of the 17,000 Parisian arrondissemements of Paris. Here, French women, men, children and dogs taking repetitive shits choose the best material to reconnect with hand craft, with manual dexterity, with their inner child. Even in France, so libertarian and positively pedagogical, modern life knocks the spirit down and turns in into a mouldy, evanescent and rusty bag of house tools.

But in the sacrilegious city of Stamps, we have the truthsayer and king of games, the Masterclown, to remind us that freedom ain't cheap bricolage. It's a few thousands per year.

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DAY 23 - FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A CLOWN’S TEAR

THU NOV. 8, 2017

Thursday: as per usual, the Masterclown is racing the streets of Paris in his cabriolet, but the dramas in Clownville (the city of Stamps) continue, as the second year students pop like high pressure Moet & Chandon, yet without flutes with which to drink the libation. But is is all really about popping the bottle open and let the outpourings shape a new island, like an exploding volcano in the island of Lanzarote in 1750 (ca.), but at least it’s warm there.

Don’t be hard, be soft. Be available. The world outside only apparently runs in a different direction. And the Masterclown knows it. There is magic everywhere, and that magic is when you can connect with the nothingness that surrounds you. Everything is empty. The desire to show, to impress, to be loved, is but the sweetened version of the lonesome road we are on. When we want nothing, when we are free to want nothing, we set in motion what is, and what is tells the most beautiful lesson: that what we are is the game.

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DAY 24 - I DON'T BELIEVE WHAT I SAY

FRI NOV. 9, 2017

“The game is always serious, because you pretend to be something. Like Hamlet. But sometimes I think, I am better than Hamlet!”

It’s Friday, it’s rainy, it's 7pm, the city of Stamps is full of drunk mothers looking for Australian nannies. Their children look with child interest at the Masterclown's poster outside school; not the best looking poster, yet not the worst if a child stops to look at it. The mother looks intently at me, asking about how many Australians are there; my French is exalted thanks to my position of knowledge of the Masterclown's student demographic. "J'aime les Australiens", she sighs and exhales the cigarette smoke somewhere towards the horizon.

When getting used to a new environment, what once was a novelty becomes a habit, and one progressively stops observing as an outsider: the capacity to change perspective changes that which is perceived. My faculties as Virgil are decreasing. We are in high seas, sucked into a vortex that is too late to swim away from. We’ll die a sweet death to make a point of our own beautiful existence. As the Masterclown’s comments are now a recurring torment, a known necessary “evil", and as we can peek into the vortex we are deliberately plunging into, one cannot even brace oneself and just has to accept to delve into a symphony of errors from where to look for the vestiges of one's dreams, and to maybe still find them intact.

The daily interaction amongst all students is becoming more real. Niceties are left aside, and everybody is in fact just a very decent person. We are abandoning the world for a while. We’e still here, but we won’t be answering for a bit. As we gather around the Masterclown, he confesses that he does not believe in his insults. But that somewhat, they are believed by the students.

“It’s not good to talk about yourself. About your secret. If I told you my secret, my special secret that makes me better than Hamlet, my entire life would fall apart.”

A moment of silence, then a bang on the drum. “The workshop is now over. Thank you and goodbye”.

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DAY 25 - COPY A DIFFERENT ANIMAL

MON NOV. 13, 2017

The cynical lottery of the positioning of the train doors at the arrival of the city of Stamps tricks me this time. I get on the train to Paris last, but I am lucky enough to catch a seat in the luggage compartment.

You can emerge at Saint Michel on a November morning at 8am and wonder: how the fuck did they build a church made of marble that matches the mood of any Parisian sky? Or you can just pass by and let your heart be distracted by something else.

The Neutral mask softens the body, and makes my stomach churn. It’s no fun to be “as boring as a priest who has to go to the Vatican to tell the pope he is going to rape 1,000 children who will be buried in the garden”. The intricacy of the insult signals a real concern, which I don’t care about necessarily as I know the drill of the Masterclown. Yet, it hurts to watch the replay of the insult in your mind, as much as it hurts and feels unfair yet right that Italy will not be playing the World Cup in 2018.

Venus and Jupiter were conjunct early in the morning, as the Facebook advert aptly reminded us. Every day. Is there money in stargazing? Is that a new frontier of social media marketing?

We are traversing a dark forest where all fears and obstacles are movable. As another student tells me, quoting the Matrix, “the spoon is not there”. Pink tongues of clouds move above the raising sun. The sharp wit that I brought with me, my pleasure, went to sleep to make room to something new. And what is new is old, as though to remind myself of all of the weaknesses that I have that I believe true and relevant. Because to be bad here is also due to want to hide your projected weak spots. Everything comes into the open, which is freeing. And this freedom is one’s greatest desire and fear.

Sybilline comes the recommendation from Carlo, whom I used to call the Roberto Benigni costume impersonator: “If you feel that your position on stage assumes the looks of a hunchback, simply copy a different animal”.

Then, the final sentence for the day. How not to be boring on stage, I ask him. “You have to fall in love”, the Masterclown sentences, staring into my eyes.

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DAY 26 - J’AIME MON VELO

TUE NOV. 14, 2017

A couple of weeks ago I went to Paris to have dinner with a friend who had gotten married to the wrong person back in 2012. In those days, the Pont de l’Alma station was open, yet rainjackets were still necessary in June.

But going back to that dinner: that evening I understood the meaning of French cock. Is there such term? Yes. You can say “I saw a Frenchman. What a cock he was!” Hence, French cock. So, a French cock is a Frenchman who does his best to be a cock. Why do I say that? Because at this fancy dinner, in this architectural jewel located just off the so-called “borders” of the main city, surrounded by large photographic prints, precious books on the history of landscape painting and Victor Hugo, a ceiling as tall as to embrace a flight of stairs extending over three floors, overlooking on a modern concrete garden wall upon which a French-subtitled version of Tarkovsky’s Stalker played on loop, and laid on a designer table with expensive champagne, sweet tenderloin, hand-picked & homegrown goat’s cheese and cabbage soup, amongst all of this, and forgive the long sentence, as I was saying, in the midst of all this, right in the middle of such entropic combination of elements, was a French cock.

His boyish hair, as rigolo as his eyes that were born in wealth, were starting to show shades of gray that did not seem to dwarf the mischievousness of this grown-up énfant terrible. He tried to hide expensive ham into another guest’s shoe, he made us add wine to the last bit of our soup and had us drink it, he banished English language from the room. In short, he was a dream come true.

But one day, he said, he took 10kg of manure and walked into a world class Parisian restarant, run by the same person in 40 years. He placed the manure in the middle, immersed his feet, and began singing La Marsillaise in English. The restaurant guests loved him, the owner loved him, the photographers he had called with him loved him. Everybody at the dinner loved him. I liked him so much that I clearly hated him.

Great things arise from boundless confidence. But also “a sensitivity resembling a wooden or plastic spoon that can be used to pick up caca”, explains the Masterclown.

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DAY 27 - BE WATER, MY FRIEND

WED NOV. 15, 2017

“If you feel ridiculous on stage, that’s good. You should feel like an idiot.” There is no pain-free way to discover something important. We test this statement through the body every day. The Masteclown makes sure that we don’t fold into ourselves.

The at first delayed and then suppressed train to Paris Austerlitz that usually leaves the city of Stamps at 7.31 offers it passenger a communitarian experience: the fluorescent morning skyes watching over the good people of France who must go to work to enjoy its purple haze.

The people on the Rer C, stashed into the train to Paris like cows, are now being summoned to turn into sardines for the common good. To have more sardines joining them. We cannot be like water here. Water that flows from Finland to Norway, to Swiss lakes and Mediterranean seas. Right now, we are the turds blocking the flow of water. The sighs and looks that people give to each other make a dingy single room with a toilet overlooking the kitchen sink very desirable.

But at class, we can be water. Simply, for a job like the one of the actor, there are not so many more spaces where to try to be water. We can only rely on the force of perception, forever tested by the shittiness of everything that stands between us and the flow of water.

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DAY 28 - THIS IS MY JOB

THU NOV. 16, 2017

The usual Thursday without the Masterclown is of course spent with the Masterclown, who jumps back and forth in our heads, obsesses us, while really we are forcibly obsessing ourselves with him, or better, with the part of him directed at us, which means, really, we are just obsessed with ourselves.

The city of Stamps drags its November courtains over our dreams and out into its edges, with housing developments, spreads of cemeteries, and Lidl. My 17sqm apartment still smells of cigarette smoke since the past Monday, when the perception of myself was not the perception I wanted to have. When there is a gift to give, and we hide under the pretence that we have no such gift. And we smoke with the windows closed.

If you try to be an artist, that's cheap. The Masterclown brings us back to center: "I have to show you how you can be beautiful when you are not an artist, a poet, a little girl, a psychoanalist. Just you. My job is to prepare you to make money and to become a professional! Sorry, but I have to say bravo to myself sometimes. Not everyday! But sometimes."

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DAY 29 - DO YOU WANT AN INTERESTING LIFE STORY OR A CAREER?

FRI NOV. 17, 2017

"Filippo, you look like an Italian who has not had spaghetti in 4 weeks!" The Friday autocours brought discovery, which is the role and purpose of the neutral mask. It is an instrument of discovery for who we can be on stage. Which is already who we are. It is not made to be used like a club comic.

After a poor group performance, 3 of the students appear from behind the courtains, bare chested and wearing the neutral mask. They act out the scene of a fish being caught by a fisherman who is then attacked by a shark. A glorious message. The Masterclown plainly sends them away, banging on his drum. He is fuming!

But his revenge did not take long to come. using one of the most promising students, by guiding him in his water trip, like a snake charmer, the Masterclown regained control of the neutral mask's meaning. One has to be vulnerable to be invincible. The young student became beautiful in his first transformation. Like a strong and innocent fish who discovers the subaquaeus world outside of his home. We have seen him for the person he is: young, humble yet assertive, under a sweet courtain of goofiness. We dreamed with him. And the masterclown took us by the hand again.

The masterclown says that pushing our actions by an act of will only brings a theatre which is lazy and uninspired: I mean, fucking boring. An actor's beauty and power derive from his availability to let himself go to something great in his heart.

Masterclown, upon stopping a performance, to a student: "This one, what do you think? Atomic bomb?" The American student, without choice: "Yes, atomic bomb." Masterclown: "Ah. Yankee. SPE-CIA-LIST! Goodbye IMMEDIATELY!"

DAY 30 - SHITTY POLICE

MON NOV. 20, 2017

Undercover police roams the mighty town of Stamps preventing cyclists to cycle against one-way streets. I am too caught in the rolling of justice. Not too bad, because I have learned from the British how to be apologetic. I succeed in looking like a functional citizen. The police officers stare at my yellow mountain bike, which I payed the nifty sum of 10€ from a Polish immigrant who wanted to get rid of her life in Stamps and travel Vietnam (good riddance!).

The Masterclown enacted some sort of live performance reminding us of the purposes of his school. With all the school toilets being blocked, there was the need of professional help. For the entire day, a large sucking pipe ran along the school floor, and where once were barefoot people, now are the professionals of shit and their long boots.

“I apologise about my shitty problem”, the eyes of the Masterclown sparkle. Everything is a game. The Masterclown confesses that his whole teaching is a game to him. If one does not have pleasure living, he should see a doctor. Everything has to be light, otherwise it’s shitty. “I was bad at school. That’s why I made this one. So that you can be bad. My children went to the French lycée in South Kensington. The teachers there looked at me as if I was a farmer. They were horrible.” The shitty problem is fixed at the end of the day. The cathartic experience of the school, once again.

As a sort of revenge to the police, at night I ripped two yellow flowers off the war memorial of the courageous city of Stamps. They go with my mountain bike, which is yellow and shitty.

DAY 31 - REPTILES AND CO.

TUE NOV. 21, 2017

“If you are 22 and ask me how to have humor, you are probably done”

Alfred Jarry wrote Ubu Roi when he was just 17. His play opened and closed on the same night in the 1910s because it was so vulgar and imaginative, in short a pisstake so effective and revolutionary to be taken seriously. All that is good becomes illegal, as it pushes humankind a bit further, a bit more away from our so called borders. So really what do we have to say in the city of Stamps, where we all strive to find this pleasure, which we debate, which we talk about as if it was an academic subject, conditioned as we have been by the rules of a society that bores us to death?

A 13 years old kisses an equally young brunette outside my apartment, where the main door lock broke because everybody slams the door behind them when rushing through the hectic city of Stamps. We are playing snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, chameleons through the neutral mask. Nature helps us to discover something about ourselves. Even if we killed nature, or at least changed it forever. As everything does.

“I don’t know where freedom comes from. I don’t know where it came from, but I found it. And that’s because I was looking for it”, the Masterclown tells us at the end of class, matter-of-factly.

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DAY 32 - EVER SO SLOW AIR

WED NOV. 22, 2017

The disagreement between the calendar and the temperature in the city of stamps is evident. The warmer-than-usual air carries a denser smell of burning boughs, crepes, tobacconist as if these olfactory sensations were moving slower than time, time which is so kind in the giving city of Stamps. At night, the brilliant, bloody, sharp and curved sword, the rising moon, illuminates the Carrfour parking lot where homeless people gather to shout at passers-by, as other look impassively at the growing Christmas made of cardboard boxes around them.

The Masterclown wants to know from a student if he studied at the "London school of acting of my balls”. Yes, it’s not expensive to be intelligent. That is why people with academic degrees do not get paid much. Because they are boooooriiiing! “The actor has to give something special. You have to discover it and give it. If it’s not special, you will earn no money. Pleasure is a must. You have to have the pleasure to perform on a stage with 2,000 floodlights."

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DAY 33 - A HIGHER STATUS

THU NOV. 23, 2017

There is an exercise that will never stop being relevant to the buddying and professional actor. It is called “Samurais to the bridge of destiny”. Or something like that. Two actors enter stage trying to have higher status than the other. Higher status is not about aggressiveness or putting the other down. It is about imperturbability, and the comfort of being in one’s skin. Essentially, everything in class with Carlo is about realising that us and the space are enough to make us give to the stage. The identification between self off stage and self on stage should not concern us. These are for the addicted to self pity. We want to give everything to the stage, without becoming self conscious. It is a choice we have to make: to take our self on stage as a tool for the pleasure to give to ourselves and others. It is an experience of wonder.

The Masterclown cannot stress enough the importance of the fixed point: “You need a better fixed point. You have to do like the British: you need three umbrellas up your arse to be British. The first one up is ok, the second is difficult, the third one is hayhayhay, but then that’s it, you have become British. And have a good fixed point."

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DAY 34 - OF BEAUTIFUL LIARS

FRI NOV. 24, 2017

The Gaulierades continue and with it the search of the “guts on the table”. Stamps is rain and falling leaves, with whiffs of clorine at times coming from the municipal swimming pool. We try. We try hard. At times too hard. it is hard just because we want to impress, and to do so is a job for the mind. But there is no reason to use reason, there is no reason to be reasonable. We just have to be us, because that is what matters to the Masterclown. To show what we know but we are afraid to handle. When only the mind works we are lost in our own solitude of thinking beings. The goal, once again, is to be humans, or better “human persons”. I at times have to shift my attention to my chest to find freedom, which is temporary, fleeting, and ultimately a lie, a beautiful lie. “Theatre is beautiful because it is a huge lie. I hate sentimental, romantic people, the Madre Theresas of theatre, who put their real feelings onto the theatre. Liars are the best; they know they are lying and they enjoy their lie.”

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DAY 35 - DANCE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER DANCED BEFORE

MON NOV. 27, 2017

“The goal is to always dream”. Life is better with love and beauty. These two are abstract concepts, concepts not so communicable through a vile blog. Ah, sorry that I cannot show you my love through this medium. It is true. We cannot. We are always stingy. We can give more. If you are called stingy by the Masterclown, maybe it’s because you could give more. You can always give more. But do you need the master clown to tell you? Of course not. We are giving beings and we were made to give. Giving to what gives (an audience in this case) can only bring more flourishing power, a higher size, bigger tree, that grows around our homes.

The city of Stamps floods our minds with its rain, and the Earth moving towards its last month away from the sun, faster and faster in its trajectory, speeds up these days made of fast encounters, decisions, stage traumas and revenges. “Bitch or no bitch, Lady Macbeth is a beautiful character!” Stanislawky has to die within all of us. My voice is a “Stalinist vacuum cleaner”, but I care not, for I feel myself trying to learn from a place where play can inspire me. Everybody has their way. The Masterclown mimics an email with a light blow of his mouth. “Don’t forget, the audience is your friend!”

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DAY 36 - ...OR AM I DEEPLY DRUNK?

TUE NOV. 28, 2017

The days are sunny in the square of Stamps, where I dropped the clementines I bought from Carrefour and spent time collecting them one by one.

The elements are there not to imitate a character, but to create one that comes from the interaction between ourselves and the element we think of. The Masterclown has to be nasty, so nasty to make us good, or to believe that we can be beautiful. He has to look at folly in the eyes, to govern it and to let it breathe to inspire us.

Chloric acid is an elemental precursor to bouffon. It has the power of folly; it is and it is not; it is charming and disgusting. Funny, evil, therefore "not Dostoyevsky".

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DAY 37 - COLORS

WED NOV. 29, 2017

I still do not know why at times I am here. We still do not know whether we get more acquainted with the modalities of the Masterclown or we are discovering something. Truly, we come so unequipped for openness that it destroys us to realise that we gave in so much to everything which disassembles our spirit. The great kept their spirit intact, at the cost of becoming unwanted for a while. But a true spirit is never left alone for it shines amongst the drowsy souls. And in the city of Stamps, many ghosts are looking to regain their bodies.

All of this is far from intellectual. Far too many years I have spent dissecting, finding, analysing, ultimately disenchanting myself with life, to the point that I thought I could not feel anymore, because feeling had no empirical value. The lesson of the positivist dream ate me up in so many different directions. Now that I look at my life today, to the spirit that is possible in my late 20s, I understand that much of what I have done was FUCKING BORING.

So, you must have fun with colours. What does that mean? It means that the proximity to love and beauty will always inspire a great art. The Masterclown yells at one of us: “You are on top of the mountain! On top of the mountain is cold, there is no coffeeshop and it’s fucking boring!”

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DAY 38 - SNOW OR SLEEP

THU NOV. 30, 2017

On the last day of November, the city of Stamps brings sleet, as I crank up the heating in my town-famous 17sqm up to 21 degrees celsius. Some of Australians here had never seen snow before. Sleet is the first snow they have seen. I used to be fascinated with people who had never seen snow. I probably still am since I am writing about them. But I am fascinated about them as one is fascinated by people who cannot conceive of other people speaking a different language, or fish not having lungs. Sometimes I can imagine having fins and breathing water. It does not sound too crazy to feel we once were immersed in water. As I say to cheer myself up, we begun as fish crawling out of water and we’ll end like turds crawling down the water floss.

Ok, it’s Thursday. Thursday is contemplative. Clownville misses the Masterclown, who “hates to be nasty, but he has to, even if when he goes back home he cries”. Thursday is the week-breaker. There are more people who cry than we think. Every day. Today I contemplate how I seem not to know how to be serious. How I love to laugh. But then, look at Charlie Chaplin. At Buster Keaton. At Freddy Mercury. Great sense of humour, and yet, the presence of a placid tragedy. There is sadness in fun, because to make fun is to love, and to love is to understand that there is a fleeting instant. And fun goes through you like lightning, like an inexplicable force that makes everything which seems like chore an act of joy.

I am so sick of explaining.

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DAY 39 - A HIGHER COMPLICITY

FRI DEC. 1, 2017

There was an outstanding performance at presentation day for Greek Tragedy. The Masterclown raised his arm, and while still holding the drumstick, he raised his thumb up, “Very good. He was beautiful! We think he comes from a wild, terrible place. Beautiful.” Not many words when it comes to praise. Beauty is self-evident. Conversely, the intricacies of the Masterclown’s insults highlight guidance.

The Masterclown is a positive presence in a constellation of archetypes. The students around him, who willingly or unwillingly become enraptured in wanted him to like them, create a totem which needs not to be. The Masterclown is a disenchanted and loving eye that catches all contrivances and pretention. Hence he is to be feared, for we hate honesty. Our nature is terrifying once divested from the lies that make a horrible Christmas tree. But once the lie is in the open, for behind the mask hides nothing…we learn to lie as beautifully as to become what we lie about.

The Masterclown appeared in my dreams in this fashion: he was operating a sort of truth machine. He was the Tiresias of the city of Stamps. Through this machine I understood he could see where his insight came from. As if in his waking days he consults this invisible truth machine. This machine was in short his connection to the gods. He pointed out some lies of mine in front of people I have been lying to: facing his unmasking, I conceded that what he was saying was true, but I made up a better lie on the spot which worked like a charm. No self-imposed sense of guilt equals no punishment, so, it ushers a great performance.

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DAY 40 - DARK, LAZY DAYBREAK

MON DEC. 4, 2017

Any month can be the cruellest month in the mind of the poet. But for the Masterclown? No such thing. Greek Tragedy floods our minds with its terrible sights and exaggerated, over-the-top humanity. Greek tragedy is the precursor of comedy, once the sacred was gotten rid of. Today, no tragedy seems to be able to parallel the uncompromising "fuck you" style of the Greeks, who died for real, from close, in front of your eyes, for beliefs, convictions, "mores" and not drones, the financial crisis, or gambling your inheritance.

Women and men spiralling in a vortex of revenge, deceit, ire, love and the need to bury the dead! As we scramble to look for a new apartment for a new term. The winter guides through looking for the pleasure that comes easy in the spring. In the tragedy of the Greeks, we witness characters that throw themselves in the YES of life, like Nietzsche said before throwing his arms at the horse in Turin, for one last time before falling silent. So how to have the pleasure of dying? To fully embrace this destiny without melodrama?

"Everybody has a good idea, but it usually does not help. Slowly slowly, put that idea in he bin."

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DAY 41 - TWENTY!

TUE DEC. 5, 2017

Illusions help us get through the day. Dreams, beliefs. As though there was a truth that we could not bear, or be “good” enough to withstand. In the city of Stamps, this illusion has become double, for of this reality we both dream and touch with our own trembling body. For we are the own perception that imbues reality with whatever illusion we choose.

The “realism” of the Stand-up comic of today is based on reducing himself to a graspable thought, for newspapers begun to hail him (and especially her) as the “new philosophers”, in a time in which there are none, and the ones who were certainly did not do it to be defined as such. Today’s Sarah Silvermans are just a mirror of the illuded audiences, feeding of their own defecations, colorised on social media platforms. It’s nothing new. Fringes do the job, main audiences “discover” wisdom by bastardising it. The new mouthpieces of the audience are glorified for placing their face to an empty thought.

That is the outer experience of it.

Inside, it might be even worse motivated.

This is a thought, nothing more than a contrived thought that means and means not.

The Masterclown is a mouthpiece of the rarity of the Albatros.

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DAY 42 - CAMUS

WED DEC. 6, 2017

“IN 1959, I wrote to Albert Camus. I liked his Sisyphus. He replied, but I never fund the letter again. 2 days ago, my charming wife found the letter in the postbox. Some old woman died and the heirs found the letter and had it sent to me! I was happy to remember when at 16 I wanted to do something. It is a good time”.

The Masterclown is no philosopher. He was at the Sorbonne for only one morning. Blah blah blah! That is no language for theatre. France is a country of intellectuals who want a degree to prove they can speak. Greek tragedy is pure action. It’s like Italy today, but without bravery.

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DAY 43 - ONCE AGAIN, YOU MUST BE FREE

THU DEC. 7, 2017

There are memories of childhood and of safety that appear from below the depths at times, triggered by moments of present peace. However, It is as though I do not realise that I can revel in such memories as if they were the state of things. The separation from the past makes one a “realist”, in theory. But embracing what is good to the soul, without recurring to easy inner fascisms, and rejoice the safety of a memory as the present moment, is always possible. It is a beautiful thing. We make our lives so hard by thinking that we are never enough. We are already the dreams we want. We just have to recalibrate our view.

He says with anger: “everybody has so much inner beauty”!!

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DAY 44 - NOTES ON SOME INTERNAL WILDFIRES

FRI DEC. 8, 2017

Serious is boring for everybody. And one is not boring when just himself. He cannot be. Boring is an act, and usually a bad one. It’s a hiding. I know that very well through stand-up. Turns out that acting is the same. It is nothing but yourself through the declinations of costume, constraints or character. But acting is what makes oneself stay the same in the Hisenbergian principle of observation. I stay the same - I try - in front of a watching audience. I have a core and I am responsive. I dance with a group who is constantly judging me. And I am so beautiful that I care not, or I care so much that I cannot reflect. This is also the lesson of Greek tragedy. Not to consider self-reflection. Not to be a doubting being, for fate is undoubtable. There is no rebellion to one’s feelings. I am uncorrupted.

Paris is filled with couples fretting to buy romance at some pretentious restaurant far from any useful metro station. Girls tighten their red lips, chewing gum, pretending to speak French on the phone. The light of the Eiffel revolves in the cloudy sky like a lighthouse, like a prison camp nightwatch. Depending on where one stands within the boundaries of society.

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DAY 45 - SPEAKING OF TIRAMISU

MON DEC. 11, 2017

The last two weeks chez le Masterclown (Term 1, the minds over whether to continue are changing) slowly take off, the tiredness of the past 8 weeks behind our backs and the solitide that Christmas calls into questioning amongst all of us. Students are slowly turning into adepts or are becoming free from all doctrine. Masterclown shaking doubts, others stirring neuroses and flat hunting in Paris.

Stamps, with its strong, cool wind tries to uproot centuries of quiche, bouillon, beaujoulais. We keep our feet on the ground. I keep my feet on the ground. I have not bought deodorant in so long. I miss my grandfather, the one who asks me if I am gay each Christmas.

Yes, the Café di Départ and the freedom to kiss and hug Jean François is beautiful. Stamps and its greedy owners, just like pig owners, colours our hearts with shapes and shades that after all make us feel in line with the Christmas spirit of generosity and acceptance.

The city of Stamps gives way to the strong winter winds, bending the sky into purple and brown hues. The weekends lends fury to the dead, dead as we are and fucking boring as we feel. There is always a slight suspicion that we might be being conned into a world of magic in which the Masterclown is the ultimate living theatre, a man performing a teacher who hates living theatre, who finds an audience of devoted students, hanging by his each and every single word...meanwhile, trains, restaurants and apartments become more expensive, the world outside has no rage, and we are a machine. The legends of the 60s and 70s live and conquer, both in youth and old age.

Mine is a reasonable thought. Or a faux intuition. It is the apprehension that he causes which keeps people glued to his every move. But the greatest lesson is his life: carve a space in which you become unexchangeable. Try it, in this world in which fakes are more interesting than “real deals”, where currencies are being wiped away, where being a rebel and being in line with the dominant thought is one and the same. Try it.

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DAY 46 - YOURS WAS A STUPID QUESTION

TUE DEC. 12, 2017

The past few weeks are a blur that this enigmatic account cannot describe, or the very fact that the details of past days and exchanges are so tenuous makes justice to my fine work of raconteur. For all that we seem to be getting out of tragedy is, once again, play, apparently unsubstantial play.

Sometimes, when a student is tense in his performance (meaning, fucking boring) the Masterclown simply makes you do or talk about what you like, as to show that one can replicate that pleasure even with a text that was written 2,500 years ago. And that is how you get a character alive, dummy!

“If you feel the pain of the character, sorry, you are not in the show! Pain is for people who are a pain in the ass!”

So how to be laughing if the tragic character comes from bloody hell, I ask. “I never said bloody hell is horrible!”, he point blank replies.

Maybe we should not cry. Maybe what is sad is not sad, for sadness is already one step too far, for it is always too late to be sad. Tragedy is not sad! It is the core of a feeling that never gets rid of itself.

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DAY 47 - IT'S THE PRESSURE!

WED DEC. 14, 2017

That’s probably the first time I mention

how the method of the Masterclown is in the growth

that each students discovers

in the group.

Spending time with people

whom you see every day

divesting their selves from themselves

reinforces the trust

in a setting

where being you

is allowed.

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DAY 48 - DID YOU MOVE?

THU DEC. 15, 2017

The trick is

to stay free each day

even when dispossessed

of your mind.

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DAY 49 - I'LL SEE YOU ON MONDAY

FRI DEC. 16, 2017

Schools of the world unite! The Masterclown gathers all the clouds, and we are back at being children inder the Gemini sky of Stamps, comrades!

Words have been spent on Greek tragedy. But more shall be spent on the trick of the Masterclown. It’s a trick that nobody knows. Meanwhile we compose songs and cry to the everpresent notion of who we are. We are in an enchantment that we wanted. We are in hightened awareness. We want to stay there always. We want to learn how to stay where the light shines through the darkness. Everything has already been said. That is why we should be feeling free to do it all.

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DAY 50 - THE CIRCLE OF THE SUN

MON DEC. 18, 2017

The sky is a bowl of sun and violet brushes but nobody notices, as the Paris that magically shows up each fay is, as I said, showing up each day. There are girls reading books with red lipstick who make reading with interest look all too easy. Might it be because one could look at their faces as though they were performing a posture, as though they were rehearsing for life and the book is in fact just an ikea catalogue they are looking at, or is it a new kind of exercise so not to be tempted to scroll their phone, just like it is good not to laugh so not to get wrinkles?

A bundle of clouds survives the winterwind and I come out of this train without a hat and a fistful of mandarine peel in my right hand.

Young winter faces rosey after a good night sleep, pale faces white after years and years of holding on to a job to pay for a house you might be living in if you stay focused enough, if you don’t lose the plot.

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DAY 51 - DRIZZLE OVER RAIN

TUE DEC. 19, 2017

I had no heart to stay on this train for too long. It feels as though time is a stretch that was never moving, a tapis-roulant we activate the moment we start walking. As we stop, time dissolves into something we cannot name, a terrifying prospect, to be free in a through an act of self-deception.

Another man, thinning hair, uses his phone like a confidant, typing all of the messages he has not yet sent and never will.

Some men love the sound of their phone as much as the smell of their deodorant, while the girls have to sustain another couple of generations before the man who has not read a book on cunnilingus will be wiped away forever.

The train goes and before the excitement of being in movement would crack the souls of people open, and now the to and fro imposed by the growing house market makes even the rocking seats a chore to go through before dying a little bit more. But a little bird told me that the people live in magic each day and it does happen, it will always happen...that we rip the chains and get out, get out forever.

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DAY 51 - MUCH HAVE I SAID

WED DEC. 20, 2017

"The best moment of my life was when I killed my husband", says Clitemnestra.

How many things did you forget? But how many things can you remember? It's as if we always need shelter. It's as if I know I have been hiding under a cheap game I thought I could always break.

When you open your mouth, make them feel like they have never heard anything like that before.

Clitemnestra can be the best feminist bitch. Is old age like young age, but conscious?

Don't forget to have a game.

DAY 53 - DID I SAY SOMETHING GOOD?

THU DEC. 21, 2017

The apogee of the sun which runs with fury aghast it lasts for a moment past, and the tactic that does the clock which must have been charged by a flock of fools, demanding rules and schoooools!

All mixes, all interchanges, you can hear “she is a garage for dicks”, or you can hear, “when the Chinese arrive, the Jews leave” but also, “the Greeks were not sentimental, they thought that the soul was red, because that is the color of the thing that comes out of their wounded bodies”.

Life is demanded to keep on living. Sometimes we think we have enough life. We don’t have enough life. Ever. “Montezuma’s revenge gives me diarrhoea”.

I went on stage and I was so tense. Ah! My balls were hurting. My tension was actually the desire to give. And so we all did. We gave so much more and with so much joy we thought we could give with. Freedom comes with encouragement to be free. Or desperation. Which most times, the Masterclown can give equally, in the same moment.

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DAY 54 - THANK YOU FOR THIS HORRIBLE MOMENT

FRI DEC. 22, 2017

It might be that, in the mighty city of Stamps, where we never are in control, where we stand to slip, what really enriches us is the effect of the school outside of its walls. At times, one senses that there might be a social experiment going on. The Masterclown and its school somehow reestablishes (or gives anew) a sense of trust in the world, for if more people accept us the way we are, ethical or unethical for today’s standards, we begin to trust love, which we display to give the gift which keeps on giving. And all, suddenly, is covered in a manageable magic.

I have touched something I thought belonged only to my imagination. Or maybe I have been imagining it all. And it was real.

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