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  • Writer's pictureProfessor Teddy Love

Lucy's Clown Breakthrough

I’m always so proud of my students when they push their own boundaries and achieve something they hadn’t previously been able to achieve.

So every month I give a big shout out to someone in my awesome Clown Spirit tribe whose breakthrough can help inspire others on a similar clown journey.

Lucy as a clown on a trip to Moscow with Patch Adams and other clowns, Dec 2006
Lucy in Dec 2006 in Moscow with Patch Adams and other clowns

Lucy Paige Sheffield has been a member of CLOWN 4 LIFE since it launched in November, coming to coaching sessions every week, and attending all the available workshops and masterclasses that are part of the membership.

She’s also been a clown for a really long time (I’m not going to tell you how long) and had many amazing clown experiences in many parts of the world, including on Patch Adams’ humanitarian clown missions.

But performing online seemed like a bridge too far.

Until now.

Lucy had watched many installments of Patrick van den Boom’s amazing online OPEN PODIUM clown show (which you should watch if you haven’t already). And she had always felt she wanted to be part of it. But she hadn’t been able to find the necessary momentum to actually commit.

Lucy in CLOWN4LIFE coaching session
Lucy in CLOWN4LIFE coaching session

During our coaching sessions together she expressed this desire (as well as other projects she has in mind, all of which are super worthwhile and awesome). And so together we locked in on a commitment to say YES to the Open Podium and to start creating a piece together.

In the December workshop Lucy did an amazing improvisation with two feathers, connected by a piece of string. They appeared first to be inanimate, but then came to life, played, tickled and teased, possessed, tried to escape, and eventually flew away.

Lucy is rehearsing a clown performance, holding out two feathers and swooping them like a bird in flight
Lucy soaring above the clouds with her new feathered friend

I knew she had something really special, because it was not really about the object and its story, but rather about Lucy and the beautiful range of emotions that she allowed herself to move through as she worked and played with the object. The object became a partner but also a vehicle for the clowning to occur.

Over a number of weeks we gradually refined the piece together, giving it structure but allowing it still to breathe. While she took my notes on some technical aspects of how to manipulate the object and create certain images on camera, she maintained this amazing intensity of connection to the object and the moment.

Lucy rehearsing her clown performance, getting tickled by the feathers.
Lucy had a beautiful, playful relationship with the feathers

We chose some music that helped to accentuate the quality of the piece, which was really a bitter-sweet story of a helpless and vulnerable being that, with our loving support, gains in strength and confidence, to the point where, poignantly, it leaves us. A familiar story to many of us, because of course it is archetypal and speaks to the very core of what it is to be human.

During the performance I was 100% confident in Lucy’s ability to pull off this piece, because although it had been through many versions, there was an integrity at the core of it, which was her light shining through. This is what clown does so beautifully - allowing us to connect with our own lightness and then share that with others.

Lucy enjoying being congratulated on her performance with the hosts of the Open Podium show.
Soaking in the applause and congratulations after her epic performance at the Open Podium, January 2023

Despite being on the other side of a camera, the piece was very moving (and funny, at times), and the comments afterwards from people who didn’t even know Lucy reflected how she had touched them with her deep sense of presence. It was a gift for the Open Podium, but also for me to be able to witness the outcome of a process.

So…congratulations Lucy on committing to a new goal and going beyond your own comfort zone. Dealing with the technological demands of performing on line can put some people off doing it. They feel perhaps it is impossible to connect with people through the camera. But you are proof that this is not the case, and that anyone (even someone, ahem, sometimes technically challenged) can harness this technology to produce beautiful clown moments.

Thanks Lucy!

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