For starters, Caroline Simonds, Founder of Le Rire Médecin, Artistic Director and Artist met me for lunch on Sunday when she probably had a million and one better things to do. Workaholic springs to mind, but there is absolutely no escaping that this woman is extraordinary and inspiring and passionate. When I feel like I don't have enough hours in my day, I will think of her, and find some more!
Over lunch, she told me about how Le Rire Médecin came to be 26 years ago - she worked in New York with Michael Christensen at the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Programme for 3 years, (after having worked in as a street performer for 10 years before that) and decided to move back to Paris and see if she could make it fly there. And it did. Almost immediately they were up and running in three hospitals. (her version was much more entertaining, obviously!)
She talked with love about the clowns in the company and the ones I was off to observe, and with much pride in the artistic quality of the work, and the artistic support that her artists are entitled to. This, she says, is something she has had to fight for, tooth and nail, in a financial climate that is keen to make savings wherever it can, and commodify us as artists. Since she works on the floor 2 days a week, she is still totally connected to the work, the artists and the hospitals they serve. Trés cool. Trés, trés cool.
I am a therapeutic clown and performer. Writing here is part of my wider practice and reflection on clowning as an (therapeutic) art form.