Connecting Deeply with Audiences

The art of communicating and building trust a Resilient podcast How do performers connect with their audience to build trust? And how is risk used to create an advantage? Jeff Raz, Stand & Deliver senior director, Clown Conservatory founder, author, and resilient performer shares unconventional wisdom about performing—and its remarkable similarities to risk management. In this episode of Resilient, Jeff Raz talks about the inherent resiliency performers must develop to excel at their craft. … Read More

5 Things That Should Be Done To Improve The US Educational System

Interview with Penny Bauder of Authority Magazine Although everyone in the world is now living under the threat of COVID 19, American school children, at least right now, when we’re doing this interview in mid-July, don’t have to live with the daily threat of getting killed or maimed in a school shooting. As a part of my interview series about the things that should be done to improve the US educational system I had … Read More

Wine & Acrobatics

Wine and acrobatics shouldn’t go together, this magazine cover from 1986 notwithstanding. Vaudeville Nouveau – Mark Sackett (pouring the wine), Danny Mankin (suavely looking at the camera) and me – usually performed this acrobatic trick with juggling. One time, when we were working between sets at a music festival, the belt that I used to hold Danny snapped. I flew back so fast I saw the bottoms of Mark’s feet floating in mid air. … Read More

7 Deadly Sins

Years ago I made an act based on the 7 Deadly Sins; ever since then I’ve been using one sin against another to keep myself on the straight and narrow. For example, after dinner, when my mind turns to green tea ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream — the real kind, not that stuff out of the spritzer can—I rush to brush my teeth so my Sloth can keep my Gluttony at … Read More

John Henry Song

In the middle of one night, after watching too much TV news, I woke up to find my mind hard at work rewriting the song “John Henry” as a pandemic ballad. Yes, we live in strange times. In the morning, I worked on it for a while and then sent my “Joan Henry” to the great Kenny Raskin who recorded it. Enjoy!    

5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an author

Interview with Chaya Weiner As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Raz. Jeff Raz is an acclaimed author, playwright, stage director and performer (he has starred on Broadway and with Cirque du Soleil as well as a global communications consultant. His first book, The Secret Life of Clowns, was launched at the Smithsonian Institution in … Read More

Reactions – Juggling the Physical and the Emotional

In rehearsal last week, I worked with a brilliant clown on a seemingly simple move – getting her hand ‘stuck’ on a set piece when she tried to step away. “Make sure you do the reaction after the action, not before.” Duh, of course. But it is amazing how many times a clown trip or slap or other moment is ruined because the performer reacts before s/he acts. In clowning, there are two different … Read More

Winter Holidays – Time to Talk

We’re deep into the winter holidays, a time when helpful friends and social pundits are warning us to avoid talking about politics or religion or anything else that might devolve into an argument. Good advice, perhaps, but only talking about safe topics is like only eating mashed potatoes – boring and ultimately unhealthy. What if we could have respectful, exciting, joyful conversations about truly gnarly, nasty, stomach-knotting subjects? I know this is possible and … Read More

Stand and Be Present

A student, I’ll call her Beth, stood facing away from the audience in a theater class I taught last month. She turned, walked downstage and said, “Hello, my name is Beth.” Just that, and my eyes teared up. It was her third try at an exercise I describe in The Secret Life of Clowns: “Let’s start with something basic, the very simplest performance — one human being standing in front of a group of … Read More

What’s Your Secure Base?

“My mama came to visit me in San Quinton every time she had the money for a Greyhound from Bakersfield.” Merle Haggard’s grizzly old face turned soft and teary in Ken Burns’ documentary on country music. Haggard’s mother was his ‘secure base,’ a metaphor that becomes very real in acrobatics, although I find it harder to be an emotional secure base than to hold people standing on my shoulders. George Kohlrieser, psychologist and hostage … Read More

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