Annick Detolle is a bestower of smiles, an actress, a stilt performer, a clown and a musician. She has worked for more than 30 years in theatre, street performances, animation and entertainment for children. Having begun her theatrical training in France and in the United States with the Bread and Puppet Theater, she continued her artistic endeavours in France by participating in the creation and performance of numerous shows in the streets, towns and villages of Provence and Brittany. In 1982, she was invited to present the children's show: The "Épouvantaille enchantée" at "Terre des hommes" on "Ile Notre Dame" in Montreal. Since then, she has remained in Quebec, creating and participating in the creation of a dozen shows, in which she played alone or with other actors. More than 4,000 performances have been given in schools, in recreational facilities, at festivals and in cultural centres of Quebec, Acadia, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Haiti. Some of her shows and characters on stilts have been presented at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival, and the Cirque du Soleil during special events. Over all these years, the artist has continued to perfect her artistic approach by taking part in many classes/training periods, including clowning with Rene Bazinet, Don Rieder and Francine Coté. She has offered workshops for children with "Jeunesses Musicales du Canada", at the "Sports and Cultural Centre of St Pierre and Miquelon", in schools and for various municipalities in Quebec.
The clown is a character who dwells in each of us, whether in secret or overtly. Even the most timid people have a clown inside them. Becoming better acquainted with the clown within you does not entail clowning around, but rather allowing this humorous character to emerge and to express itself. Everyone likes to laugh, but fear of ridicule sometimes has a paralyzing effect on us. Yet when taken to the extreme, all of our shortcomings and our qualities are funny: the clown is pathetic in his clumsiness or funny in his arrogance. Learning to laugh at yourself and being willing to be laughed at is a big step towards accepting yourself. This leads to the development of the pleasure of being watched without being judged.
Being a clown is synonymous with enjoyment (even through the tears there is a wink of complicity with the public), lightness, openness, sincerity and simplicity. The clown's body is as much a vehicle of expression as is his face. The identity of a person is shaped by the sounds he makes, his breathing, his speech and his rhythm, which all contribute to this person’s individuality. The originality of each participant’s inner character will be showcased during the workshop, while emphasizing respect for the development and diversity of young people.
Examples of activities
To create a relationship of trust with the students, the artist begins by presenting her career path, her experience, and her artistic life. Students are asked to say what they know about clowns, by giving examples. The artist introduces different types of clowns (August, the white clown, hobo) before inviting participants to try some clowning preparatory activities: warming up the body and the face (movements, grimaces), vowel games, games using breath (blowing out a candle, inflating a balloon, etc), word games, rhythm games, etc. The class is then divided into two groups: actors and spectators.
Activities are always offered alternately so that all participants can appreciate both performing and observing as an audience. This helps develop complicit laughter rather than cynical laughter or mockery. Red noses are distributed or made from recycled materials provided by the artist. The nose is sacred. When we put on the nose, the play begins. The facilitator asks the children to reproduce movements and sounds of butterflies, dinosaurs, rain, hyenas, wolves, clouds, stars, tigers, etc. Alone or in groups, participants will be asked to represent a quality (such as lightness) or a shortcoming (such as ferocity) in an exaggerated way, to be able to find the funny side of the extremes. As the sessions unfold, characters develop, followed by sketches, clown scenes and eventually an entire play.
The workshop requires various materials and props at a maximum cost of $100 per day of hosted activities. The session must be held in a room in which there is no furniture, measuring approximately twelve by fifteen metres.
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