Charlie The Juggling Clown
Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime
The Clown-Around-The-World Festival
By Bruce “Charlie” Johnson
I had the honor and pleasure of being part of the inaugural
The festival was billed as “entertainment with strong social cause.” The organizers used our presence to raise $138,000 from sponsors. The money was divided among five local charities.
The festival was the inspiration of Knick Pang, founder and
director of circusOUTREACH. It was
organized by circusOUTREACH and the Write Stuff, organizations based in
CircusOUTREACH uses circus skills for social causes.
CircusOUTREACH teaches circus skills to disadvantaged youth in the
Knick teaches a circus skills class in a prison. During the festival, Lee Mullally and Rone & Gigi performed a show at the prison. The students in the class had seen a video of a performance by Rone & Gigi so the duo was met by the inmates as if they were stars. At the end of the festival, Knick announced that permission had been obtained for the inmates to be briefly released from prison to put on their own circus performance.
CircusOUTREACH has a caring clown unit that visits the
Members of our performance troupe also entertained at high teas at the Amara Hotel, our host hotel.
The entire group performed in public outreach shows at
The group of clowns received extensive media coverage with many newspaper articles and TV news reports. Richard Snowberg and Gigi & Rone appeared on an English language TV talk show on Channel News Asia. The broadcast is seen by 14 million people in 18 countries. The next morning, Richard Snowberg, Knick Pang, and I appeared on Singapore Today, a Chinese language talk show. The host asked us questions in English, and after we answered she translated the question and our answer into Chinese. After the interview, I performed part of my juggling and magic act done silently to a musical background.
I think an unusual accomplishment by this group of entertainers was that every performance ended exactly on time. Several of the entertainers use audience interaction in their routines so the exact content of their acts varied from show to show. However, nobody missed their assigned act length by more than two minutes during the entire trip.
All of the performers invited to participate in the
festival have been instructors at the U-W Clown Camp.
Billed as the oldest and largest clown education program in the world,
Clown Camp will be celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary in the summer of
2005. Clown Camp has held week long
training programs at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and in
Following the festival, a smaller group of performers
(Bruce Johnson, Lee Mullally, Rone & Gigi, Richard Snowberg, and Sam Tee)
continued on to
Wang was quoted as saying, “I hope to be able to use the techniques I learn here when I take part in future relief efforts.”
None of us realized how quickly our students would need to put their new knowledge to use. Within a month the earthquake and tsunami hit the region.
The trip to
I would like to thank Knick Pang and the circusOUTREACH staff, the Write Stuff staff, and Sam Tee for their hospitality while I visited their countries.
Copyright 2005 by Bruce “Charlie” Johnson. All rights reserved.