The Clowns actually visit the Trousseau hospital 4 times a week, in 2 different services. On Tuesday it was Hematology - lots of infection control procedures, lots of long term or repeat patients.
It was really lovely to see how they adapted their play depending on the situation and I want to share 2 visits with you.
One highlight was seeing them both come into the consultcy waiting room. Before they arrived, it was a typical waiting room scene. Boredom, anxiety. Everyone in their own world. I honestly wondered to myself how the clowns would be received. Even me, who sees the positive effects all the time! But everyone looked just generally a bit pissed off and grumpy. Did they really want to see 2 clowns right now?
But in they came. Mimi-Trompette totally distraught because her minature pig (toy) was broken! Melodramatic, weeping and totally unconsolable, 'is there a pig doctor here? Are you waiting for the pig doctor?' More outwardly worried and impatient than anyone in the room, giving voice and physical presence to everyones personal experience. Beautiful Clowning. And Dijon, her biggest fan and friend, cheerfully and optimistically helping her to find a solution. It was so lovely to see people lifting their heads, smiling, looking at each other, laughing and offering solutions, and of course the clowns said 'yes' to each one, and so by the end of the visit, the pig had turned into a cat, one child was holding a rubber chicken that was a cow and several were wearing red noses. When they finally were shooed outside by a playful psychologist, the whole room was smiling and transformed.
On the other end of the spectrum, later that day they visited a young boy who was in protective isolation. Before entering the ward, we all had to put on gowns and shoe covers. His room had an additional plastic wall around his bed. When the clowns went into his room, they were between this plastic and the outside wall, in a narrow corridor, wearing masks as well as the gowns.
As they entered the room, their 'opener' was that they were trying to escape from me (the spy!). They ended up going on an epic journey: They became birds flying over the ocean and the little boy and his mum also flapped their wings to help them along, then polar bears trudging through the deep snow. At the end they made a giant ice cream to give me as they left the room...it was a trick! It tasted disgusting!
All the plastic, the gowns, the layers between the boy and the clowns didn't make the slightest bit of difference in their ability to connect with him and his mum. In fact, the effect of the plastic sheeting was quite poetic! And in an environment that is so controlled - where even your mum has to put on a face mask to come into the room to be with you - these wild escapes with the clowns seem all the more exceptional and precious.
Thank you Mimi and Dijon!
I am a therapeutic clown and performer. Writing here is part of my wider practice and maybe some of my thoughts will trigger some thoughts of your own and I hope that helps.