Its time, I am going to do my first ever performance and I am incredibly nervous for it. I keep asking myself: How can I pull this off? What can I look at? What am I going to do? Do I need a script? I’m in charge of this and I need to make my own decisions.
I firstly asked myself, what kind of character is Terrance? He’s a clown first of all, but he’s also quite a silent clown, a clown that doesn’t speak. This made things feel more comfortable for me, actions will speak louder than words in this performance! I started to look for silent performances, looking at Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Marceau, watching their performance on youtube to get a sense of how to present myself in my performance. I noticed their big gestures and their exaggerated facial expressions. Their body language tells a story throughout their performances.
Chaplin was well known for portraying himself as his alter-ego ‘the Little Tramp.’ ‘Chaplin improvised an outfit consisting of a too-small coat, too-large pants, floppy shoes, and a battered derby. As a finishing touch, he pasted on a postage-stamp mustache and adopted a cane as an all-purpose prop. It was in his second Keystone film, Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), that Chaplin’s immortal screen alter ego, “the Little Tramp,” was born. The Tramp’s appeal was universal: audiences loved his cheekiness, his deflation of pomposity, his casual savagery, his unexpected gallantry, and his resilience in the face of adversity. Some historians have traced the Tramp’s origins to Chaplin’s Dickensian childhood, while others have suggested that the character had its roots in the motto of Chaplin’s mentor, Fred Karno: “Keep it wistful, gentlemen, keep it wistful.”’
Marcel Marceau was a famous mime during and after World War II. He survived the Nazi occupation and saved many children during the war. ‘His most-celebrated characterization was Bip—a character half-Pierrot, half-Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp—first presented by Marceau in 1947.’
Looking at these well known silent performers helped me with the basis I want my performance to focus on. I want it to be full of gestures, but instead of having no props, I want it to be based around one prop. However, I don’t want the performance to be full of laughs, I want it to slowly get weird and dark. I want the audience to feel uncomfortable and confused on whats going on. The performance needs to interrupt the space. I won’t speak but maybe I can use props to create loud sounds and over time my anger can build up to the point I scream or shout as loud as I can. Terrance is a sad character, full of words that he cannot speak, wanting to get away from all his fears.
I started looking up artists who purposefully try to make the audience confused and uncomfortable which to my surprise, I found Bruce Nauman’s ‘Clown Torture.’ There is a confusion whether the clown is being tortured in the installation piece or if the audience is Nauman’s target. The audience’s senses are being harassed by the carnival of noise while being forced to confront the most uncomfortable of realities. You are forced to become conscious participants while being in the dark and noisy room. How are you suppose to react to this? You become wary of your conscious choice to laugh, to be disgusted and to realise the disturbing side of what is suppose to be seen as entertaining.
Looking at these well known artists and entertainers have helped me in my decisions for my first ever solo performance. I don’t want it to include any talking whatsoever, just a lot of big gestures while standing in one place. Looking at ‘Clown Torture’ has told me that my performance doesn’t have to be incredibly long, as Nauman uses very short clips of himself performing and has them on repeat. If I am going to interrupt a space it should be quick, simple, and loud to get everyone’s attention and to keep them interested. I am feeling incredibly nervous and excited at the same time and even if it fails, it would be my first ever performance so I can learn from my mistakes and develop it for future work. After all the work I’ve done this year I definitely need to do something performance related.