Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Clown Me In

A Very Serious Clown from Lebanon. November 10, 2020

Throughout 2020, Lebanon has been descending into an economic crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, which, according to an article in the New York Timeswritten by Ben Hubbard (who happens to be our interviewee’s husband), is threatening decades of (faked?) prosperity.

Anti-government protests have been on the rise. We immediately thought: a revolution is the perfect time to talk about clown!

Fortunately, our friend from Beirut agreed.

Sabine Choucair is a Lebanese humanitarian clown, storyteller, performer, and new mom. She has a special talent for finding the light in the darkest of times with her clown work and for poking fun at the powers that be with bouffon, a biting and satirical cousin of clown.

We joined her in May via Zoom and competed over who has it worse—America or Lebanon. We’re #1. #MAGA #JokingNotJoking

Amrita Dhaliwal: How is your work responding to the current pandemic and economic crisis in Lebanon?

Sabine Choucair: In the beginning the clowns of Clown Me In were a bit like, “What do we do?” All of our work is based on live interaction, the people being on the streets. And then boom—total lockdown. Suddenly we were at home, lonely, not able to create.

Zoom did not really work for us.

We were in shock, trying to figure out what to do with our lives, and were a bit depressed. We lost all the clown hope we had.

But bit by bit, we started thinking about ways to overcome this and we came up with the idea of making short videos of different games kids can play with their families at home or with themselves in front of a mirror. It was a way for us to be active.

We’ve filmed 5 short videos so far and have been disseminating them.

We have put them on social media and sent them to all the refugee camps in Lebanon and the NGOs we know are working with different communities, specifically Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as Lebanese living in rural areas.

We’ve also invited people to donate to artists in Lebanon who are stuck in this economic crisis.

We asked artists to send us recordings of them performing fun stuff we could share online on our platforms and we gave them $100 per video. With the economic crisis, the dollar to the lira is nearly seven times what it used to be, so it’s a big deal.

I started giving online live sessions on Facebook for people to just have fun and be silly and just play for half an hour every Friday. We call it the happy half hour.

black and white photo of five seated people in masks

The International Institute For Very Very Serious Studies in Lebanon 2020. Photo by Zakaria Kaakour.

Amrita: You have recently finished running the first year of your school, where you also teach.

Sabine: Yeah, the International Institute for Very, Very Serious Studies.

Nathaniel Justiniano: Very serious.

Amrita: So this is a very serious question. It’s very serious.

Nathaniel: If you could just be serious, please.

Amrita: Let’s be serious. The school is a performance training program in participatory art, clowning, mask work, bouffon technique, puppetry, physical theatre, and storytelling, as well as community-integrated street performance.

You might be the only physical theatre program that teaches and emphasizes activism. Is that true?

Sabine: Very true.

Amrita: How did it go?

Sabine: The first part of the school year was great. The students had so much fun. Then boom! The revolution started, so we shifted our work from the classroom to the streets.

Nathaniel: Congratulations, you started your school. We’re gonna add a revolution and a pandemic, so just be ready.

[Note: In hindsight, we should have also warned Sabine about the explosion. During the editing of this interview, Lebanon experienced the largest explosion in its history due to the accidental ignition of 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in one of Beirut’s ports.

In response to the explosion, Sabine and her crew traveled around the most affected areas to perform and spread joy to the families.]

Sabine: Exactly. So, we started thinking about ways to be on the streets doing activism as clowns joining the revolution.

We had all these big signs congratulating the government for all the great work they were doing making Lebanon #1 in corrupt governing.

Nathaniel: Congratulations, by the way.

Sabine: As clowns, we were really proud.

Amrita: As an American, it’s just really hard for me to congratulate another country for being number one. I’m really feeling insecure right now…

Sabine: We feel that you’ve surpassed us in corruption now.

Amrita: Oh, thank god.

Sabine: But, back in October, we were number one.

Nathaniel: It is a competition.

Sabine: It’s okay. As a clown, I accept failure.

Nathaniel: Can I take it back into the streets with the revolution? Can you help us understand where the revolution is coming from and some of the actions that you and the group committed to? How you built it, your plan, and how it was responded to when you did it?

Sabine: For us, it came as a buildup of many things: Of corruption, of all the politicians who’ve been in power for more than 30 years not making any progress or helping people, of the garbage crisis—we look at our country and feel we’re drowning in a sea of garbage because the government couldn’t find a way to dispose of it.

And then the financial crisis, the economic crisis happened. We were like: We should be doing something.

So we decided: Okay, we’re gonna go to the streets wearing our swimsuits with garbage stuck to our bodies and then we’ll walk in the protests and brag about all the great things we found in the sea.

Someone filmed us for an interview and it went viral; it was very painful and very funny at the same time.

Most of the comments we got were: This is tragicomic. This is the reality. Really, clown is life. This is what’s happening to Lebanese people every day and it’s so scary. It makes us all so angry, but it’s also so funny.

Another day we thought, People are super angry and they’re going out of their way to be on the street.

We decided to be the happy clowns who go and say to the protestors, “Thank you for being here.” This alone makes people really happy—to be marching and chanting and very energetic, and to see clowns.

Many people know we exist as the clowns who go fight for social justice on the streets. They love having us. They’re very supportive. We get a lot of positive feedback and it gives us an amazing push to keep doing what we do.

a group of protestors

Clown Me In during the 2019 Lebanon uprising. Photo by Stop Photography.

Amrita: Can you tell us about your journey to activism? Were you in school and always knew or was it just something that happened?

Sabine: I had no idea this is what I was going to do. I studied theatre in Lebanon, we didn’t really do clowning. I went to London. I did mime school, and I was like, “Oh, this is so boring.”

Amrita: We’ll edit that part out.

Nathaniel: We’re gonna put it as the headline, but go ahead.

Sabine: After, I went to performing arts school and discovered clowning. And I thought, Wow, this is such an amazing art! How did I not know anything about it? 

I grew up during the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted 15 years (1975 until 1990), so the first clown I created was this military clown who’s super paranoid. And I thought this clowning business was great.

So I decided I would do clowning for the rest of my life because it made me feel so much better.

And then I wanted to share the experience with other people because it’s fun and it makes a difference, so I started Clown Me In, a theatre company I co-founded with Gabriela Munoz.

That’s how I started, one thing led to another. The first time we went to the streets was because I was giving a workshop to a group of people and we were like, “Let’s go try clowning on the streets.”

We went to the Corniche, a popular seafront promenade, in Beirut and wondered why people were littering so much.

We started following them as clowns, tripping over what they just littered and giving their trash back to them. We were doing stuff that people found fun, even though we were really clown-attacking them about littering. Then we were like, “Let’s do more of this.”

Amrita: It sounds like a classic clown journey.

Really, clown is life. This is what’s happening to Lebanese people every day and it’s so scary. It makes us all so angry, but it’s also so funny.

Nathaniel: You’ve been working at addressing environmental issues for years. How has your strategy or any aspect of your work changed in the face of the culture not changing?

Sabine: We still take the themes and make them into clown acts or clown videos, but over the years we started working more with the people who are trying to change policy.

For example, we worked with the Coalition for Waste Management and in one of their protests they wanted to talk about incinerators.

We came up with a whole scene about incinerators and clowns going to the protests, offering our condolences to people and saying we’ll miss them because we’re all going to die. That’s the way we’re shifting—we try to be supportive of the people making a difference in policies.

Nathaniel: It sounds like you also create visibility, joy, and more conversation around an issue in collaboration with those who might be able to actually change policy.

Sabine: Definitely.

triptych of three clowns

Screenshot from the Clown games videos. Video by Ali J. Dalloul.

Amrita: Let’s talk about the intersection of clown and bouffon. Bouffon being a much more confrontational, satirical, and often disturbing cousin of clown. What are your thoughts on it?

[Note: Bouffon is a satirical performance style and the primary dynamic is ecstatic mockery. They don’t make fun of individuals in the audience so much as everyone’s collective complicity in societal dysfunction.

Often costumed in exaggerated and distorted full-body masks, they dance and play with carefree abandon, unapologetically rejecting oppressive stigmas and social norms.

One reference point of a type of bouffon in popular culture is Sacha Baron Cohen’s work as the characters Borat and Bruno.]

Sabine: Clown Me In uses a lot of clowning and bouffon because being an activist clown is not enough.

You need to really be a bouffon in so many situations. It’s great to be a poetic, hopeful clown looking at life and showing your vulnerability. But when things are really heated you need to be able to be there, showing people who they are, what they are, and really pinching these parts.

As in touching issues that are delicate and/or hurtful sometimes and really digging into them. Once we find what’s bothering us or the issue we want to tackle, we start devising and looking for fun and extreme ways to play it, whether it be clown or bouffon. So it’s a bit of both.

I’m not great at theory; another person might give another explanation. I just know in practice this is what happens. We shift when we need to shift. I don’t think anyone can say something that is really important, that gets to people, if it’s not coming from passion. It’s all very personal.

Nathaniel: In the wake of the brutal murders of Tony McDade, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others activating protests and marches in every state in the United States, as well as all over the world, it’s feeling like an inflection point in society right now, which is very hopeful.

There’s a Facebook group called “Clown Theory,” and someone posted a question in the face of these protests: “…wondering if there is a place for a clown amongst more serious gatherings like street riots and protests for social and racial justice.”

Some people chimed in in the affirmative. Some people said no, it’s inappropriate. You chimed in saying you’ve done protest work as a clown and people have responded well.

So much of clown practice and teaching in Europe and North America is led by and written by white folx. So there is, I think, a very reasonable association with clowning and whiteness, but these protests and this moment are about uplifting and centering Black folx.

Can you expand on that conversation? We’re talking about white supremacy, activism, clowning, and how we approach it, if at all.

Sabine: Let’s start with the fact that I am Arab. I am Brown, so I feel like I can be a clown on these streets. If I want to choose clowning as a way to talk about racism and Black Lives Matter, then I have the right to do this.

I mean, I am not there, and I’m not living this on a daily basis, but I come from a place where I never felt the urge to stop myself from being on the streets to say something I believe in.

If I’m real, and if I’m true, and if I honestly go there because I believe what I’m doing and saying is supporting the cause, then I just do it.

That’s also how I see other people doing it. But that might be a bit naive from my part.

Nathaniel: Well you do more than that, you are of the community. They know you. You talked about how they know you so well that when you come out, they’re like, “Oh, it’s those clowns.”

I want to lift that up because that seems to be part of the chemistry that makes it work. Do you agree?

Sabine: It took time for it to work. But, yes. It’s something we built together.

three clowns outside

Clown Me In team protesting against incinerators in Lebanon during 2018. Photo by Nabil Mounzer.

Nathaniel: As a final question, what are you hopeful about seeing as a result of your work—clown activism work, or the school, or both? What are you hoping to see happen in terms of impact in Lebanon and Beirut, and amongst the community?

Sabine: I have high hopes about both. The number one reason I wanted to start the school was to have more engaged street theatre in the country.

From the work we’ve been doing with street activism, we’ve seen a lot of change over the years. And I can’t quantify it yet, but we see it. There are specific matters that are bothering people, which we use to inspire the content of our street theatre, and since they know us now, they wait for our performances, which then inspire further discussion among our community.

More people are becoming a part of what we do and using street theatre and clowning to fight for social justice.

I’m hopeful that if we have more people doing this work, even greater impact will be made. And I’m hoping that people from outside the country will try this kind of work in their own countries because talking about really big things in fun ways, and opening conversations on the streets, has such a big impact on people.

Even if it doesn’t, it’s so much fun for us and for the people around us who see us doing it. It’s just amazing.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE CURATORS

Clown and activism may seem like an odd couple, but embedded in the nature of clown is the spirit of joy and resistance to oppressive forces.

This series features a selection of folks from around the world who are all part of a long and diverse heritage of clown activists. From rural villages to urban centers, from popular protests to refugee camps, each of our contributors use grit and humor to activate their communities toward equity and justice.

This series shows how effective clown-based activism can be at subverting bigots and in cultivating hope in hard-hit communities.

We also see how the laughter they provoke has a disarming effect on spectators, creating an opening for vital messages to be heard.

When clowns are invited to help, they have the makings to be a powerful gift to social justice movements. And as we here in the United States have just undergone a presidential election, feeling the deep exhaustion of this time, we heed the call to send in the clowns, with their relentless, life-giving hope.

When Clowns Fight The Power

Sabine Choucair posted on Fb

Lesbos. Day 2.
1. good news of the day: Camp ′′ Piqba ′′ will not be closed… at least not in the next 2 days… short breath…

A young Dutch woman gives us the good news and takes us to breakfast right away…

She is here as a freelance photographer, but also helps everywhere there is something to do… like so many here…She explains to us what will happen….

At 11:40 we’ll take her, our photographer, and our helping hand Thanasis, without whom we would totally be out of the box, which he took for 3 years and first look at the situation from within…


We meet one of the leaders Joachim from Chile!
There are several Greek NGOs working together there among other things… in horizontal not in a vertical hierarchy, which is very important to them all!

He tells us about her incredible work. Basically 90 % of the residents come from Afghanistan… there is a kindergarten in the middle of a small pine forest… (it could almost seem idyllic if you managed to hide where we are right now…) in which before Corona also Greek children learned, laughed and played together with the refugee children…. now they can’t come!

During the tour we also become aware of a painting on the floor, a welcome greeting for the clearing police officers as well… translates as much as ′′we don’t give up…”.

In general, everything is very colorful, there are drawings and crafts of children everywhere… Yes, this is a place where people get love, affection and recognition… finally!

At least being allowed to feel a little ′′at home… in a strange place”… even if everything is cobbled together and improvised… it doesn’t matter!

You notice it immediately… there’s so much blood everywhere here… so much commitment from so many so wonderful people!

The eviction was officially announced at the end of September.

Since then there has been a constant fear of the day it really will happen and the threat that overshadowed everything will come true… and all the work, all the fighting and commitment is destroyed…

That’s why the mood is very excited…
Clutch and hope alternate…

Suddenly we stand in the tiny laundry room… which was quickly converted into a discotheque for a short moment from a DJ to surprise and great joy of all!

There are no limits to ingenuity and improvisation talent!
There’s a painted picture of clowns on the wall surrounded by kids…

The Swedish colleagues and Sabine Choucair were there!
Then the plan finally stands… We’re moving in the clothing donation room (oh the German language! ) um… and get going…

There’s a wild and loud parade to collect everyone and go to the chosen venue…

We’re about to include a few Farsi (Iranian language) words from our last Iran trip, which leads to great amusement and forms the 1. the bridge… well maybe it’s our costumes too…

45 min laughs, amazed, wide open eyes, enthusiasm, happiness and carefree accompany us through our show…

At least for a moment, fear and concern are not the dominant power, but the lust for life has won, the joy of playing has sprung over!
For these wonderful children, it only takes the slightest tiny scales anyway!

A volunteer says thank you again and says how important our visit was

In the last few days many children have cried hard because of fear of being displaced again…
Pits wet and powered out but we’re moving very happy…
What a huge gift to create and experience this magical atmosphere together!

As we say goodbye there is a gathering of helpers to discuss the action in the next few days… because the danger is not banned…

Extinguishing planes are moving over our heads…And it continues…

Thanasis wants to take us to the burnt Camp Moria.
On the way there we drive past the new camp, which has endless snakes formed in front of it.

Only one person per family is allowed out (from 08:00-20:00) and everything is controlled!

There is still no running water and facilities… The 2 rows of Dixiklos seem like a bad joke!

When we arrive it almost knocks us out…
Yawning emptiness, an uncanny silence and the smell of burnt greets us and takes my breath away!

A sea of crushed containers and melted plastic bottles, tent skeletons and black coked olive trees as far as the eye can see!

Beggars walk through the ruins looking for useful things…
And in the middle of it, 2 clowns grabbing their hands…

Despite the dumplings in our throat and goosebumps, we try to do the best!
We have come to take pictures for the #leavenoone behind campaign, show contrasts… maybe to give hope too!

And the wall with barbed wire fence graffiti saying: ′′The Graveyard of Humanity ′′

On the way back we get stopped by the police: we were already surprised that we could just walk around there…
What we would have done there…. Thanasis explains in Greek… we understand nothing…
The situation is getting a bit fierce and we are asked to show our passports… Of course they’re in the hotel!

After some back and forth we can look for the copies in the notebook… That’s sweet! They don’t think so though. A quirky and also somewhat fun situation arises as we work through the 1000 ending pictures…

There’s Susie but where’s the Max? Yes, where is he the little Max?
At some point it gets too dumb for the cops and they let us go. Lucky we are clowns and still in costume!

We managed to bore her to death and apparently no ′′special′′ danger comes from us!
Phew…

Off to the hotel, next day organization, washing costumes, making props, shower, walk, eat, sleep…
A very impressive and moving day comes to an end… The feeling that the trip was already worth it makes us sink into a deep sleep!
So excited to see what else is waiting for us!

Max

+7Clowns ohne Grenzen e.V.

Clown me in. Clown without border. In devastated Mar Mkhayel in Beirut

This is Mar Mkhayel area where most of the bars, restaurants and beautiful old houses/ buildings got completely destroyed.

After a parade that was positively welcomed by the many workers fixing houses, NGO people sitting on the side of the roads assisting people and by the few locals who didn’t leave their homes ( with the exception of one guy who was fixing his shop and who looked at us with a terrible facial expression and said: “are you really seriously happy and festive? “

We ended up performing here ( pic below)

To my left there’s one of the few still standing pubs on the side of the road.

To my right there’s the Main Street with a lot of destruction everywhere and a “listening station” where an NGO has its psychologists waiting to listen to people who want to talk.

Behind me there was this 45 year old big tall man, who was watching quietly and crying.

At the end he approached us, asked us how long we have been rehearsing and preparing this. He said it was the most beautiful thing he’d seen since the explosion And a much needed thing.

He decided to follow us the following day and watch the show again in a different area

In front of me, hidden behind the audience was this woman in her 40s who was sitting with a psychologist and talking.

When we went into the bus to leave, the psy ran and asked me to come down and take a pic with the woman. “You made her day” she said, and she “wanted to take a picture to keep remembering this precious moment”.

I wouldn’t give the artistic side of our show a 5 star review but what we offer is silly, is fun and most importantly it’s real, it’s all about connection, love and laughter.

We, adults, need it more than anyone else.

We forgot how to play, how to be joyful.

We have gone through a lot and we need to learn how to connect with each other again and mostly we need to rebuild better memories.

Hurray to this man and to this lady who were open enough to connect, to appreciate the moment and to rebuild memories
#diariesofaclown Clown Me In Payasos Sin Fronteras / Pallassos Sense Fronteres / Clowns Without Borders Hisham A. Assaad Ghalya Saab Stephanie Sotiry Sally Souraya Samer Sarkis Feras Hatem

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Clown me in? Touring the refugees camps for a few hours of laughter?

Happy holidays, everyone! We made this video as part of the We Must Clown project last year, but it’s probably even more relevant now!

HAPPENING NOW

Year-End Fundraiser of GlobalGiving – Consider an end-of-year donation. Many of you may have already heard about our successful GlobalGiving campaign, which, thanks to YOUR help, guaranteed us a permanent spot on the platform.

Due to the campaign’s success, we have extended our fundraiser to be part of GG’s Year-End campaign, which makes us eligible for different rewards and donation-matching initiatives.

If you would like to donate to our campaign and help us keep clowning, click here!

Help us reach our goal!
IIVVSS – The first semester at the International Institute for Very Very Serious Studies is almost over! Despite a few weeks of classes that we suspended to hit the streets together, the students are back to work with full energy and loads of ideas with their amazing teachers. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see what they’re up to!
IIVVSS Expressive Masks classes
Clowning through the Revolution – We’ve been a part of the Lebanese uprising since October 17th, taking part in the protests as clowns, as well as performing for the protesters (although it seems our politicians have been trying to compete with us).
We also gave a free workshop with Giovanni Fusetti this weekend, open to any caring citizen wishing to explore the connection between theatre and political, social and environmental action, both on an intellectual level and in an experimental playful way.
The day was one of play and creativity, using a series of games, collective exercises, brainstorming and group activity.
From the Beirut protests. Photo by Nadim Kamel

2019 HIGHLIGHTS

Barcelona  –  We were invited to perform at the La Mercè Festival in Barcelona this September, where Beirut was chosen as the guest city.
Not only did we get to perform for a totally new audience, but it was also our first time performing as a group outside Lebanon. Read more about it on our blog!

Clown Me In The House! –  After years (literally, it’s been 12 years since we started), we finally have a place to call our own and store all our really weird stuff!

The new location is supported by Sintraco, who offered us the space, and Fondation Sesam and Drosos, who partially funded the furnishing of the interior.
Not only is this our new rehearsal space, but it’s also the IIVVSS classroom. We also want to take a moment to thank the Golf Club of Lebanon again, for generously hosting us throughout the last months before we settled.

Sabine Choucair wins the Il Clown Nel Cuore Award in Italy  –  Our founder, Sabine Choucair, became the first female clown to win this award at the Clown&Clown Festival in Monte San Giusto in Italy for her humanitarian relief work, at a ceremony attended by over 10,000 people! Watch the video here.

CRC  –  Our new touring project, Celebrating the Rights of Children, was a huge success! We performed for over 3,360 people around the country and had them participate in games and activities that were both fun and educational.

These same artists have been working as trainers and facilitators in their home countries, and have trained over 300 women and teens in these fields.
And we couldn’t be prouder of the amazing job they’ve been doing! This project is in collaboration with CWB Sweden, the Palestinian Circus School and Al Balad Theatre, Jordan. Funded by The Folke Barnadotte Academy.

Hold Refugee Families Together: WhatsApp Messages

“Listening to these messages, I felt these stories had been given a life”

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared this link

@olivierclaurent March 28, 2016

Beautiful what’s app voice messages between Syrian refugees and their family member.

“Listening to these messages, I felt these stories had been given a life.”
time.com

They send back messages of love, hope and sorrow. Hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees have fled their homeland for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and, in increasing numbers, Europe.

But families separated by thousands of miles still stay connected, thanks to smartphones and applications like the cross-platform mobile messaging program WhatsApp.

For the past three years, Jordanian-American photographer Tanya Habjouqa has been documenting the aftermath of the Arab Spring and Syria’s descent into civil war through the eyes of the millions of refugees that have flocked to Jordan and across the Mediterranean.

At the end of a two-month stretch in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps, as well as in Amman, Ramtha and Irbid, she came to a crossroads. “Since Alan Kurdi, the imagery around Syrian refugees is ubiquitous,” she says. “We’ve seen everything.”

Looking at her own work, Habjouqa thought her images failed to convey the urgency of this story as millions of Syrians continue to live in squalid conditions in Jordanian, Turkish and Greek refugee camps. Her role, she says, was to make people care for these refugees at a time when public opinion is shifting toward isolationism.

“I was racking my brain,” she says, “trying to find the imagery that said something I hadn’t been said again and again.”

Then, toward the end of her assignment, she saw a mother playing an audio message of her husband singing a lullaby to their child. The woman’s husband had sent his messages from Germany, where he was residing apart from his family. Listening to his messages, she felt that the story gained new life.

Habjouqa gathered dozens of audio messages that her editor and colleague Rabab Haj Yahya edited into this video, to accompany her photographs.

“It felt dignified and humanizing,” says Habjouqa. “Sometimes, the simplicity can be what brings us back to the power of a story. And, in this case, it’s their stories and their words.”

Tanya Habjouqa is a photographer with Panos, based in East Jerusalem.

Rabab Haj Yahya is a documentary and narrative film editor based in New York.

 

Note: Sabine Choucair has been documenting the stories recounted by refugees

We start the Clown Me In tour on the 19th of April and the best part is that the awesome clown/friend Clay Mazing ( with whom Sabine Choucair had the best Clowns Without Borders missions) and his Emergency Circus, Moniek De Leeuw are joining for a week / 8 shows!.
Thank you Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon / Ambassade de Suisse au Liban Sawa for Development and Aid
Sara Berjawi, Viveva Letemps, Walid Saliba, Hisham Abou Nasr Assaad

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With the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon / Ambassade de Suisse au Liban ClownMe In, Clown Me In we will be touring different Syrian and Palestinian camps and local communities, starting April 2016.

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An artist is asking to get paid in Lebanon: She has guts this Sabine

Posted on: January 3, 2016

An artist is asking to get paid in Lebanon: She has guts

Let me say this one more time and I’m sure all artists out there echo my thoughts

I spent almost 7 years in performing arts schools and universities
I exercise to stay fit and work on my stamina so I don’t collapse when performing
I try hula hooping as much as I can
I read different books to keep my imagination alive
I follow up on world news
I go out and observe people
I take time to research and write
I take time to create and rehearse
I try to learn new skills to become a better performer
I attend workshops when I can
I try to watch as many performances and movies as I can
I spend hours and hours trying to figure out the bubble soap recipe in different climates
And so on ….

So guess what, what I do needs ALL DAY FULL TIME commitment, perseverance, trial and failure until the end of my time on earth!
Next time you invite me to perform or do anything for you don’t roll your eyes when I ask to get paid!

Ps: I get to choose where and when to volunteer and I definitely do it more than all of those money makers out there asking for my services for free!

Note 1: Sabine is a member of clown without borders and entertained the refugees in the Island of Lesbos for 2 weeks and she performs houla houps on the Cornish of Beirut as her gymnastic routine.

Note 2: Sabine announced the schedule of her coming clowning workshop
Here’s an opportunity to start your year with 5 days of laughter and fun.
Meet a new group and experience something totally different.
Put on a red nose/ Step on stage/ Dig into yourself

A Clown Me In workshop will be held from the 18th to the 22nd of January 2016
between 7.00pm and 10.00pm
fees: USD 175
USD 150 for registration before the 11th of January

 

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Laughter: the last refuge for displaced refugee kids with Sabine Choucair

Posted on: September 7, 2015

Laughter: the last refuge for displaced refugee kids

With Sabine Choucair

Face à la guerre, le refuge du rire

Au Liban, des ONG comme Médecins sans frontières, Terre des Hommes ou encore l’Unicef apportent aux réfugiés syriens premiers secours et denrées alimentaires de base. Une aide indispensable pour des milliers de personnes aux vies bouleversées par le conflit engagé en 2011.

Sabine Choucair tente de faire naître un sourire sur le visage des enfants et d’apaiser les blessures de l’âme.

Au sein d’un collectif d’artistes et d’associations, cette Libanaise de 33 ans revêt des habits de clown et intervient auprès des plus jeunes, mais aussi des femmes lors de thérapies sociales.

Rencontre avec celle qui, le temps d’une représentation ou de séances de discussions, cherche à faire oublier une guerre omniprésente.

Florence Massena posted this Aug. 4, 2015

L’été dernier, avec l’association « Clowns Sans Frontières » et sa compagnie « Clown Me In », Sabine Choucair a visité plusieurs camps syriens et palestiniens au nord du Liban et dans la vallée de la Bekaa, non loin de la frontière est du pays.

C’est là, dans des conditions souvent précaires, que vit la majorité des réfugiés ayant fui la guerre civile syrienne.

Près de 1,3 million de personnes, selon le Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés.

Pour la jeune femme, comédienne et thérapeute sociale, il s’agissait d’apporter une touche d’évasion dans le quotidien des enfants. Elle en a rencontré environ 3, 800 en 15 jours, jouant pour eux un spectacle taillé sur mesure.

Depuis son enfance, cette artiste aux multiples casquettes – née pendant la guerre civile, en 1982 – a l’habitude de capter l’attention d’un public.

Enfant star du petit écran libanais, elle présentait, à 9 ans seulement, un programme pour la jeunesse à la télévision.

« Pendant trois ans, j’étais une vedette : il n’y avait aucune émission après la guerre, tout le monde regardait ce que je faisais chaque samedi », se souvient-elle. Aujourd’hui encore, elle ne passe pas inaperçue.

Reconnaissable à sa démarche sautillante et ses habits colorés, elle contraste avec les femmes savamment apprêtées qui arpentent les rues de Beyrouth.

C’est dans la capitale libanaise qu’elle a étudié le théâtre, avant de s’intéresser aux techniques d’expression corporelle en Angleterre.

Voyageuse dans l’âme, elle n’a cessé de vadrouiller à travers le monde, effectuant des passages aux États-Unis, au Maroc ou encore au Canada.

À l’école Le Coq de Londres, elle découvre l’art du clown et l’embrasse totalement. Une activité proche des gens, demandant à la fois de se mettre en scène, mais aussi de ressentir les angoisses des autres pour mieux les apaiser.

Sabine jeunesse
Alors qu’elle n’avait pas dix ans, la jeune femme assurait déjà le spectacle. (photo Sabine Choucair)

Un clown au service du bien-être des enfants

Assez naturellement, Sabine Choucair a donné ses premiers spectacles de clown pour les enfants des populations marginalisées, sous les traits d’un personnage pour le moins surprenant, venu de lui-même durant sa formation. Il se distingue par son caractère « très militaire » et un sérieux penchant pour la paranoïa.

Appelé « Flower », il arbore de longs sourcils verts et porte des talons, mais possède un côté masculin qui amuse les enfants par sa contradiction. Très énergique, son clown fait du hula hoop et utilise le langage corporel dans ses numéros, jouant beaucoup sur la hiérarchie et improvisant avec les enfants.

Toutes mes angoisses sont parties après quelques représentations

Ce jeu de rôle est l’aboutissement d’un long processus de recherche, introspectif et douloureux. « Je ne savais pas que c’était en moi ! Mais j’y vois une partie de mon enfance et c’est génial d’en rire. Toutes mes angoisses sont parties après seulement quelques représentations publiques. »

Soulagée de ses maux par son personnage, elle propose aux enfants de suivre le même chemin et de se délester – temporairement – de leurs peurs. « Si ça a eu cet effet sur moi, je me suis dit que ça pouvait aider d’autres personnes. Avec mes activités associatives ou lorsque j’étais scout, j’avais toujours eu envie de travailler avec les gens. Tous mes choix artistiques ont été tournés vers la proximité avec le public, sans aucun mur entre acteurs et spectateurs », raconte la jeune femme.

Être sur scène ne lui suffit pas : entre 2007 et 2010, elle s’essaye à donner des formations de clown à des éducateurs d’enfants libanais, mais sent que quelque chose lui manque pour être réellement efficace.

Peu à peu, sa formule s’affine et lui permet d’aider au mieux les personnes en difficulté : elle allie les contes et la clownerie au storytelling, technique qui consiste à bâtir un récit autour de sa propre histoire. Marquée par une enfance au cœur d’une guerre civile, la trentenaire est touchée par la vision de jeunes traversant une période similaire, sans avoir eu peut-être la même chance qu’elle et sa famille.

Déplacements, traumatismes, pertes : des difficultés qu’elle a partagées et qui lui permettent de trouver les mots auprès des enfants comme des femmes, premières victimes du conflit syrien selon l’organisation Human Rights Watch.

La région de la Bekaa, ici en jaune, s'étend le long de la frontière avec la Syrie. (carte CC-BY-SA Wikimedia Commons, modifiée par Pierre Leibovici)
La région de la Bekaa, ici en jaune, s’étend le long de la frontière avec la Syrie. (carte CC-BY-SA Wikimedia Commons, modifiée par Pierre Leibovici)

Avec la crise syrienne, dès le printemps 2011, et l’arrivée massive de réfugiés qui a suivi dans les pays voisins, Sabine Choucair a travaillé aux côtés d’organisations telles que l’International Rescue Committee (IRC), au Liban oriental. Un engagement renouvelé dans le camp de Zaatari, au nord-est de la Jordanie, ainsi qu’en Turquie.

Ces zones frontalières sont faciles d’accès pour les réfugiés, arrivés en masse au gré des combats pour tenter de survivre. Massés dans des tentes de fortune, sous le soleil ou dans la boue, ils assurent leur subsistance  malgré des conditions de vie éprouvantes.

Ces réfugiés de toutes les régions syriennes ont parfois tout perdu, jusqu’à leurs proches. D’où le besoin d’exprimer de nombreux traumatismes, liés à leur exil, mais aussi à leurs problèmes familiaux ou à la perte d’un statut social.

Avec eux, c’est une méthode de travail collective qui est privilégiée, en formant des équipes de « 10 à 15 personnes réunies pour une thérapie de groupe. » Les moments d’échanges sont ponctués de jeux de clowns, d’ateliers autour des mots et du corps, « pour peu à peu parvenir à aborder des sujets très forts, des moments intenses qu’ils ont vécus ».

C’est une heure de magie pour eux, de rêve

Une fois leur conscience apaisée, l’étape suivante est de faire retranscrire à chacun sa propre histoire, à l’écrit d’abord, puis sous une forme artistique, grâce à « un petit film, une pièce de théâtre ou de danse, c’est selon. […] Tous ensemble, on invente ».

Ça, c’est pour les jeunes et les adultes. Pour les enfants, la jeune femme opte pour l’invention et le jeu. « Je pense que c’est une heure de magie pour eux, de rêve, qui les fait sortir de leur bulle de dépression, estime-t-elle. Quand les enfants rient, c’est avec tout leur cœur, ça les relaxe. Que l’on vienne à eux, même quelques heures, a quelque chose de beau car ils gardent de la magie en eux, le sentiment de la féerie du spectacle. »

Sabine Ben Hubbard
Lors des spectacles, Sabine met en avant l’expression corporelle, avec du hula hoop notamment. (photo Ben Hubbard)

Des violences à désamorcer

Pour beaucoup, la rencontre avec un clown est inédite. Sabine Choucair et son équipe font face à un public curieux, pour qui ces spectacles rompent avec l’âpreté du quotidien. « Ils passent 10 minutes à se demander quoi faire de nous, puis se prennent au jeu. On a des réactions très amusantes. Certains sont éblouis, d’autres veulent absolument nous toucher », raconte-t-elle.

Les réactions des enfants et de leurs parents sont celles qui la marquent le plus.

Un tout jeune réfugié, qu’elle a croisé dans un camp, lui a un jour confié : « Aujourd’hui c’est mieux qu’hier : hier, on jouait seulement au foot et aujourd’hui, on vous a vue. » Elle se souvient aussi des paroles d’une mère qui avait assisté à l’un des spectacles : « On est habitué aux bruits des missiles, des bombes. On a besoin de moments comme ceux-là pour enlever la peur de nos cœurs. »

Ils pensent que jouer c’est se frapper, se jeter des pierres

En jouant pour les enfants, la thérapeute sociale détecte chez eux des troubles comportementaux, traduits notamment par la violence qui émane de leurs jeux. « Ils pensent que jouer c’est se frapper, se jeter des pierres. On essaye alors de le retranscrire de façon clownesque, avec nos personnages et de tourner ces actions en ridicule », explique-t-elle.

Peut-on rire de tout avec eux ? Sabine s’est posée la question.

Elle joue des saynètes qui sont censées leur parler, mais a parfois des doutes sur certains de ses numéros. Dans l’une de ses interprétations par exemple, un clown « décédé » revient à la vie.

Délicat, peut-être, pour des jeunes qui vivent ou ont vécu la mort autour d’eux. Pourtant, ça ne les empêche pas de rire. « J’ai aussi un numéro de jonglage avec des couteaux. On leur montre que c’est dangereux ! Finalement, ce sont les actes les plus morbides qui ont le plus de succès », constate-t-elle quelque peu surprise. « Quand ils comprennent que c’est un jeu, c’est une bonne manière d’aborder des sujets sérieux et graves. Ils en ont besoin. Ils savent que tout ça est ridicule et que, dans l’histoire, ce sont eux les plus intelligents. »

La parole des femmes

« Travailler avec des gens », pour la jeune clown, c’est aussi aller à la rencontre des femmes. Les acteurs qui interviennent au Moyen-Orient le font parfois avec une vision et des codes très européens, ce qui peut compliquer le dialogue.

« Il leur arrive de penser savoir ce qui est juste ou pas, mais c’est très délicat quand on travaille avec des femmes », insiste Sabine.

Celle-ci s’est engagée aux côtés de l’International Rescue Committee en 2014, qui lui a demandé d’appliquer sa méthode de thérapie sociale pour des femmes de différents camps au Liban, en Jordanie et en Turquie.

Elle collabore de manière indépendante avec différents organismes d’aide pour mettre en place des activités pérennes et adaptées aux envies des femmes, en décalage avec l’accompagnement généralement établi. « Eux, ils ont leurs agendas, ils pensent à dans cinq ans. De mon côté, je veux travailler avec les gens, avec des trucs vrais. Je fonctionne d’une autre façon.»

« Il faut leur dire que notre culture, ils ne peuvent pas la changer » , lui ont répété certaines femmes, ou encore  : « se marier jeune, on le fait depuis toujours, on en a marre qu’ils viennent nous dire de ne pas le faire. »

Lorsqu’elle évoque le women empowerment [l’émancipation féminine, NDLR] prôné par certaines organisations, la trentenaire s’agace : « C’est un grand mot qui attire beaucoup d’argent mais cause pas mal de problèmes. Par exemple, à force de répéter aux femmes battues de quitter leur mari, certaines se révoltent et quittent la maison. Mais après ? Je veux bien, je ne dis pas que c’est une mauvaise idée, mais l’ONG ne peut pas prendre en charge sa famille. Elle doit ensuite retourner chez son mari et là, c’est pire ! »

Sabine portrait
Toujours en mouvement, Sabine jouera dans un festival de rue à Alexandrie en Égypte, au mois d’octobre. (photo Sabine Choucair)

Artiste, thérapeute, libanaise… Sous ses différentes identités, Sabine Choucair poursuit aujourd’hui son chemin.

Après une récente collaboration avec l’Unicef autour d’un projet de storytelling digital, elle a travaillé auprès d’adolescents syriens dans la Bekaa dans le cadre d’un programme de l’ONG Terre des Hommes-Italie. Dans ses bagages, la trentenaire emporte à chaque voyage ses convictions.

À travers un Proche-Orient qui lui est cher, elle manie humour et écoute pour apporter aux communautés en souffrance une once de réconfort. Avec ou sans nez rouge.

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Clown-me-in revolt in the Bekaa Valley

Posted on: June 7, 2014

Clown-me-in revolt in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Sabine Choucair with ClownMe In and 8 other taken in Hazmieh (Lebanon) ·

The awesome girls from ClownMe In @clown me in joined @clowns without borders on their tour in the Bekaa today  love u so much

The awesome girls from ClownMe In @clown me in joined @clowns without borders on their tour in the bekaa  today :) love u so much

A Clownish Revolt

We were waiting at the airport, where one of the clowns from Clowns Without Borders was picking up the stilts that had gotten lost in transit from his native Seattle to Lebanon.

Upon his triumphant return at the car loaded with clown props, accordions and red noses, he told us:

IMG_2258“At the security check I first pulled out a rope. The guard looked strangely and thought there was something wrong, so he told me to empty my pockets. I pulled out a couple of magic eggs and as the guard exclaimed “what are you doing?!” I could only quickly say “Ana Muharrij!” “I am a clown!” Which magically even made a smile appear on the Lebanese border guard’s face.”

It was in Jab Janine, in Bekaa valley, Lebanon, that we found out more about the true magic of these clowns.

At Jusoor’s new school (Jusoor or bridges is a local NGO providing education services to Syrian refugee children in Lebanon) –– children gathered at the improvised schoolyard with the fields of Bekaa and Mount Lebanon in the background.

It is in this valley that a big portion of the more than a million Syrian refugees, among which 400,000 children, are to be found.

IMG_1811

Once the clowns had set up, put their costumes on and their faces had turned into all the colors of the rainbow, the first children started streaming out into the schoolyard.

Hesitant at first, some of them started laughing and shaking hands with IMG_1817the clowns, who were introducing themselves in their particularly clownish ways – with a lot of missed handshakes and clumsy gestures.

Other children sat down in a large circle, still withdrawn waiting for what was to come.

 

As the show with magic glass balls, clownish musical parades, hoola hoops and of course some good old juggling unleashed, the hand clapping children led the way for their shy friends.

As the show progressed more and more children were engaged with the power of laughter, the wonders of magic and the opening of a whole new array of jokes and nonsense.

It was as if their little worlds of daily impediments, their trauma and mental blockades was turned upside down and dissipated, to make place for the universal wonders of life.

As the show came to an end with some particularly clumsy bowing, the clowns had to run for their lives, as the children all wanted a piece of them and formed groups around them, swallowing them with their handshakes and touches. Sabine, the one Lebanese clown of the international group of four, had to get rescued, raising her purple eyelashes to the blue sky of Bekaa as the children got a hold of her.

Against the power of guns, the art of laughter that these clowns brought to Bekaa, seems somewhat foolish to the hardened spectator or journalist. From Bekaa, where Hizbollah reigns and has broadened their sense of resistance against the ‘Zionist enemy’ to encompass the military aid of the Syrian regime, the tear painted on one of the clown’s faces, seems a drop on a hot plate, quick to dissipate.

To the Syrian children the tear was magical though and so the clown’s performance. It pulled them into a world in which the power of laughter and life is infinitely stronger than that of guns and they embraced it full-heartedly.

It was as if the Syrian Revolution – if only for a moment – had been high jacked not by Jihadist fighters, but by the magical power of this foolish bunch and their revived little spectators.

Clowns Without Borders is touring in Lebanon the coming two weeks to visit Syrian refugee children in different refugee camps throughout the country. The initiative part of the international Clowns Without Borders NGO, was brought to Lebanon by clown Sabine Choucair, founder of Lebanon based ‘Clown Me In’ and with financial support of Layan – a Kuwaiti aid organization for Syrian refugees.

Jusoor is one of the potential partners Syria What Will Be is seeking out for this summer. 

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“Clown Me In”? Sabine Choucair and Workshop

Posted on: March 9, 2014

“Clown Me In”? Sabine Choucair and Workshop

Sabine Choucair wanted to integrate a few children games into her clowning workshop and asked her niece to teach her a few of her games. The 10-year old niece replied: “Your workshop is easy compared to my games”

Apparently, the main improvisation technique to allow a smooth flow in clowning is to “agree” with the partners and resume the story.

January 27 near Beirut between the 10th and 14th of February a Clown Me In workshop in Lebanon.
January 28info about the Clown Me In workshop in Lebanon. https://www.facebook.com/events/374062686072054/
Clown Me In's photo.
Join Clown Me In workshop. Monday, February 10 at 6:30pm
Awrad organisation – Behind Habtoor mall – Sin el Fil- Lebanon

After the workshop ended, Sabine Choucair posted on FB:

for the past three nights i have been going back to the Clown Me In workshop space after the departure of the group just to feel the energy“.

Mike Haroutioun Ayvazian posted on FB
February 16You shall not pass, it’s a red light… #clowns #clownmein —
The Clown Me In – Lebanon- Beirut Feb 2014 group decides to go social and hits the road to play with the idea of traffic lights!
Lebanese people “for some weird reason” don’t respect the laws…hmmmm. The CLOWNS have a solution to everything
Photo: You shall not pass, it's a red light... #clowns #clownmein
This is a brilliant Valentine’s night. We had a blast last night with the Clown Me In
Thank you Wissam Nakad Chidiak and Mike Haroutioun Ayvazian for sharing this last night with us
Photo: This is what i call a brilliant Valentine's night.<br /><br /><br /><br />
We had a blast last night with the  Clown Me In, ClownMe In group.<br /><br /><br /><br />
thank you Wissam Nakad Chidiak and Mike Haroutioun Ayvazian for sharing this last night with us
What an amazing time we are having with a fun playful group of people.
Clown Me In's photo.
Clown Me In's photo.
Clown Me In's photo.
Clown Me In's photo.
Gabriela Muñoz posted a photo to ClownMe In‘s timeline.
Our second team to head to the Philippines has just returned home.
Our hosts Plan International have now hosted two teams of clowns allowing them to perform for thousands and teach workshops for youth groups.
It has been such an honor to be…See more — with Tim Cunningham and 4 others.
Our second team to head to the Philippines has just returned home. Our hosts @[305413276583:274:Plan International] have now hosted two teams of clowns allowing them to perform for thousands and teach workshops for youth groups. It has been such an honor to be in the Philippines, bringing laughter to those recovering from Typhoon Haiyan...thank you Plan! And everyone who donated to make this work possible!  </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Click the link to read more and see photos: http://www.clownswithoutborders.org/2014/02/thinking-of-the-philippines/
It has been such an honor to be in the Philippines, bringing laughter to those recovering from Typhoon Haiyan…thank you Plan! And everyone who donated to make this work possible!
#clowns teaching Lebanese drivers they should respect the traffic lights
Photo: #clowns teaching lebanese drivers they should respect the traffic lights
ClownMe In @clown me in group hitting the roads today ! Whoop whoop come find us
Photo: ClownMe In @clown me in group hitting the roads today ! Whoop whoop come find us
ClownMe In @clown me in group hitting the roads today ! Whoop whoop come find us — with ClownMe In and 7 others.

Click the link to read more and see photos:http://www.clownswithoutborders.org/2014/02/thinking-of-the-philippines/

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“Sleepless Nights”: A documentary With Clown (Me In)

Posted on: October 27, 2013

“Sleepless Nights” and the Clown (Me In)

Clownme-in. blogspost.com posted this Oct. 26, 2013

Sleepless Nights ( documentary dir. Eliane Raheb)
Through the stories of Assaad Shaftari, a former high ranking intelligence officer in a Christian right wing militia, responsible for many casualties in the protracted civil war in Lebanon, and Maryam Saiidi, the mother of Maher, a missing young communist fighter who disappeared in 1982, the film digs in the war wounds and asks if redemption and forgiveness are possible.  One of the scenes shows bits of the process from when Assaad Shaftari was taking a Clown Me In workshop.Naturally, Gabriela Munoz and Sabine Choucair were thrilled to have Assaad Shaftari going through the workshop. Moreover, we were very happy to have been involved in such an important movie like “Sleepless Nights”.I have been reading and hearing lots of controversial reactions toward this scene. ( mostly extreme ones)

Below some bits and pieces from different articles. Would love to hear your thoughts in case you’ve watched the movie.
And if you haven’t yet, it is still showing in Lebanon @Metropolis Empire Sofil, Achrafieh, at 4:30 pm, 7:15pm and 10:00pm ( until the 30th of October)
Shattuck Cinemas (Berkeley)
Oct. 26, 2013 2:30 pm
bits and pieces: 
“في الفيلم مشهد يلعب فيه أسعد الشفتري دور المهرج، كل من يشاهد الفيلم سيصاب بنوبة محددة أثناء مشاهدته ربما ضحك وربما بكاء، وربما سترتسم على وجهه ضحكة والدموع تنهمر. مشهد المهرج يحملنا الى العلاقة الجدلية بين الأمل والمسامحة الذاتية وعلاقة الآخرين وموقفهم من الجريمة. ظهر في عيون أسعد أنه لم يسامح نفسه، يقول ابنه في أحد المشاهد ” لازم يخفف اعتذارات “. ربما هو لن يتوقف عن الاعتذار لأنه لم يعترف بكل الأخطاء بعد. ” 
http://chafak.wordpress.com
In the film, Assaad Chaftari plays the role of a clown. While watching this scene you will surely feel something extreme, you might laugh or cry, and maybe smile and cry at the same time. This clown scene leads us to the dialectical relationship between hope and self-forgiveness and the relationship with others. we could see in the eyes of Chaftari that he did not forgive himself. His son says in one of the scenes: ” he should apologize less“. Maybe Chaftari won’t stop apologizing because he did not confess all his sins yet“. 
“قالت لي سيدة صديقة بعد العرض أنها لم تجد مبرّرا لمشهد تمثيل أسعد الشفتري دورَ “المهرّج” كما لو أنه خرج عن موقعه في فيلم وثائقي. أنا كان رأيي العكس تماما. لقد بدا المشهد أحد أقوى عناصر الفيلم وأكثرِها إبداعاً. إنْ لم يكن أقواها. كان هذا المشهد، الذي أدّاه الشفتري بنجاح، التعبيرَ – الذروةَ عن المسافة الشاسعة عن نفسه التي استطاع تحقيقها. كانت قدرة مفاجئة على التهكّم على نفسه. التهريج بمعنى المعاقبة الشديدة للنفس. وبهذا كانت لحظةَ قوّةٍ للفيلم ولأسعد الشفتري لا لحظة خِفّة… غيرُ التوثيقيِّ أي المتخيَّلُ يؤكّد قوّةَ التوثيقي أي الواقعي. أكاد أجزم: يؤكّد صحة التوثيقي.” جهاد الزين- جريدة النهار


“A lady friend told me that she did not find any justification for the scene where Assaad plays the role of a clown, as if he came out of his position in a documentary film . I had the exact opposite opinion. The scene was one of the strongest and most creative parts of the film. This was the scene where Chaftari alienated from himself.  He had this great capacity of ridiculing himself. Clowning in the sense of self punishment and for that this was a moment of strength etc…” Jihad El Zein, Annahar newspaper
“In other places, the film appears to fragment its images for the sake of style. It veers into outright surrealism late, when Abbas is shown acting as a clown during a therapy session. The filmmakers think this is important enough to title this section of the film, “The Clown,” but I found it digressive and mannered, a quality that it transfers to the overall film itself. It tends to recast Abass’s participation in the reconciliation process as a farce, though that’s admittedly the point. These kinds of arty excrescences are an encumbrance on a film that is probably too long.” krelllabs.blogspot.com
“In one morbidly hilarious and satisfying scene Saiidi bitingly dismiss the psychobabble of a therapist blithely sweeping matters under the rug; in another, Shaftari performs as a clown in a theater exercise. These are “scenes” in the sense that Raheb is constantly searching for new twists and turns on engaging with and reconsidering the past. ” Nicolas Rapold, filmcomment.com
 “Sleepless Nights spins to an almost surreal final act, as the performative aspects of cultural “remembrance” are shown in clown, shows and cheesy songs.” Robert Greene, Hammer To Nail.com
“Raheb supplements the film’s emotional palette with sparks of humor – often in the wry observations of Shaftari’s wife and son – and a peculiar moment near the end of the film when the retired assassin is shown performing during a clowning workshop, red nose and all.” Jim Quilty, The Daily Star
في أحد المشاهد الختامية، تتبع المخرجة الشفتري في جلسة علاجية يتحوّل فيها الى مهرّج، ونراه للمرة الاولى في وجه مختلف. ساندرا الخوري Albaladonline
In one of the final scenes, the director follows Chaftari to a therapy session where he becomes a clown, and for once, we see a different face of him. Sandra El Khoury, Al Balad Online newspaper
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