This book has been around for a few years now, and I find I do re-visit it occasionally, and recommend it to those who are serious about understanding what is at the heart of clowning. It’s a curious volume in that there are really three books in one here, but not laid out one after the other. Instead, the three interweave and take the reader from practice to philosophy via fiction.
What really kept me reading at first was the novel telling the experiences of a bunch of street performers. Though not strictly clown performers, these characters wrestle with how to “be in the moment”, how to reach the audience through honesty. These are struggles that can rarely be communicated unless you’ve actually been out there and done street performing yourself, and the fictional mode seems to be the best way to get give at least some impression of what it is that drives us to seek out strangers in the street and do silly things for them and then get them to give away their money.
The exercise sections are comparatively sparse, but that is no bad thing. Very rare is the book on clowning that contains vast amounts of good practical advice, but there have been quite a few examples of the genre in recent years that have fallen flat on their face.
The third section brings us a range of thoughts from several other performers as well as Alan himself, and gives the aspiring performer something to ... aspire to!