What Does A Clown Know… part 4 of 4 – Space-Time Continuum

By Ira Seidenstein

June 14, 2023

Photo: Ira as “Mo” in “MoMents” created by Jane Barber, Annette Schoenberger, Kristen Duffus – with Chris Lacey and Ira Seidenstein


Conversation Thursday 11th June 2020

Welcome back Dr Seidenstein to our space here in Zoomland. Today is our final Conversation in the series on Creativity, Culture and Wellbeing through the framework of The Four Articulations. The first articulation is Body. An exploration of Being Only Directly Yourself. The 2nd articulation is the articulation of Space. A discovery about what can happen when you Stay Put And Consider Evolving. The 3rdArticulation is the Articulation of Time. The Principle of 3 – Time, Timing and Timelessness; can help us to generate the positive energy that arises, the feeling that This Is Mighty Exciting.

Right here, right now, in my body, in this time, in this space, THIS IS exciting. The opportunity to reflect on these ideas is MIGHTILY EXCITING.

So today we come to the fourth Articulation, The Articulation of the Space-Time Continuum.

Is this the place where the other three articulations intersect?

Ira: They intersect in each of the spaces. In a sense it is Cartesian or arbitrary to divide those 4 elements, but in terms of discussing things sometimes it is easier to separate a topic from another topic and then we can look at how they interrelate, like what we are going to do today. The physicist Einstein had as one of his teachers Hermann Minkowski who was the one who came up with the space-time continuum. Minkowski said that space and time are united. The 3 factors defining space; length, breadth and height, or sometimes people use width, are different and separate from time? Yet Minkowski imagined the relation of space with time.

I was thinking in my work perspective that maybe the idea is: that space relates to sight; and, time relates to sense. Sight related to space; as we see the person is on the stage, and we see them 3 metres from us, and we see that they are now moving across the space to the left. So we see. We see their costume, we see what they are doing physically, but it’s the sense about what they are doing that makes the zing, or the integration. For the performer you have to know where your body is, or you are going to hit the bookshelf and hurt yourself, or bump into your partner and hurt them. So it’s a practical thing. But it’s our senses including the sense of time and timing that make the theatre space come alive.

Naree: The word sight, (I assume you were using sight), but there is the word ‘site’.

Ira: Yeah, that’s great, I’m glad you cited that.

Naree: Site definitely brings it into place/space.

The official final section of exercises in The Four Articulations for Performance is called The Path of Honour. That consists of exercises which are named after famous clowns.

What is it about those clowns that you find so worth acknowledging and honouring?

Ira: The Path of Honour has 9 specific creative exercises, and 8 of them are named for notably great clowns. The 9th exercise is for the individual to get up and tell a story about a clown. It could be themselves or it could be their Aunt or Uncle who was eccentric or peculiar or funny. It could be a story about a professional clown. It could be the story of someone they see in their neighbourhood who is like a clown.

But the first 8 are reminders of someone who is well known in the history of theatre and clown and film & television. Before The Path of Honour came to me as an idea, I had the feeling that in much of the clown teaching that was going on, in workshops, there was likely less and less useful or even any discussion about people like Chaplin and Keaton.

There was (and is?) a period when it seemed people involved with Clown would only discuss contemporary clowns and clowns who were their friends and people that they know of; which is ok in itself but it began what I call “Denialism”. I considered Denialism like a new ‘religion’ of denying elders and many factors that compose the whole truth of any subject. I started to write about “Denialism” in 2012.

However, it was in my early theatre days when I would notice forms of ‘denial’ from practitioners in dance, primarily contemporary styles who I would meet. Invariably, the dancers who stood out to me I would meet to ask about their background and training. Each mentioned primarily whatever dance technique they preferred. I would ask further questions and it always was that the better contemporary dancers had many formidable years of training in Ballet as youths. Each was in denial that the Ballet provided them with an obvious lifetime solid foundation of physicality and also concentration with a continual use of integers/counts imperative in Ballet training.

Likewise there is also a denial about, for example, The Path of Honour’s really great clowns, who were avant garde, they were leaders in their field and they are our Elders in Clown and many of them, Chaplin in particular, had a lot of things to say about humanity through his work. When we fail to acknowledge him as an artist and who was one of the leaders making clowning contemporary i.e. dealing with contemporary issues of society and humanity. Without involving Chaplin as a foundation in Clown we are removing the essential depth of clown as an art form. In Clown Secret I explain that I view our Elders in Clown as a unified duality of a Matriarchal Lineage and a Patriarchal Lineage.

I had already made the show Chaplin’s Eye in 2005 and it was directly a small attempt to bring Chaplin’s name into the front again. And The Path of Honour was to bring forward those names that people in the field of Clown don’t know or whose value they don’t understand. Or in the case of many teachers in the field, they are in denial that we stem directly from and because of the legendary Clowns of all types.

What began happening in theatre training more often, 25 years ago, approximately, we teachers knew that if you were teaching acting or theatre, people were coming to do the courses who had never seen theatre, people weren’t interested in live theatre. They had the fantasy about becoming a film actor, or a television star but they had little interest and they had little relation to live theatre. So when teachers were discussing things about theatre actors the teachers had to find new ways of introducing that you have to see theatre, you need to study plays to be an actor. Even if you’re going to be a film actor or a Clown you need or at least will benefit from the study of great drama of theatre. There was a period like that, a type of generation gap.

Similarly in Clown, everybody was coming to do clown workshops, it had become very popular and it still is. People attended for their own enjoyment, their own self-expression and whatever their other altruistic reasons were. They also attend for commercial reasons. But they didn’t know who Laurel & Hardy were. I would say something about Laurel & Hardy and I could see that some of the participants didn’t know what or who I was talking about.

I would ask if there is anybody who doesn’t know who Laurel and Hardy are and there were always a few people who raised their hands. Then I would ask if there is anybody who hasn’t seen Laurel and Hardy films, and there’d be more hands raised. Some people who had heard of them had never seen a Laurel and Hardy film. I would say, now that we’ve got YouTube, have a look at a couple of Laurel and Hardy clips tonight please or maybe watch one of their short films? I never said ‘You will like them’. It is not about liking them or Chaplin or anyone that I recommend viewing in order to learn from.

So there was a period of time when these great clowns were not in the dialogue, or not in a significant way, and I wanted to put them back in the dialogue, back into the front of the conversation.

However, I had my own interests in terms of trying to ‘locate’ within myself and within anyone who studies with me – can we locate within ourselves the precise mental awareness of the great Clowns? I am not talking about their gags per se, and, I am not talking about the combination of factors that provided their particular genius which stems from their particular personality from birth and their life circumstances and their early professional development. Those are all things outside of our “given circumstances”. What we can do, and work on and improve is how we work on the floor so to speak. For sure, The Four Articulations is a practical tool in that area i.e. the integration of the mind, body, intellect, imagination in space on the studio floor in real time. For anyone: from Novice Veteran.

Practically speaking, such integration on the floor in the studio, in your rehearsal space, and on stage or in front of the camera for screen work; is, The Principle of Four – Body, Voice, Creativity, Performance. To that effect for the sake of my own study, I created my first exercise for that creative integration. That is The Creative Twist which is the first of The 7 Solos. I created that first creative exercise and the physical series Core Mechanics in 1976.

If we are going to talk about clowns, we need to talk about Chaplin. Not just because he was a great clown generally; rather, importantly because he did a lot of great things artistically in terms reflecting the complex nature of Humanity. I consider him like a Shakespeare, Dickens, Marceau, Martha Graham, Samuel Beckett i.e. artists for the performance arts communicating into the depths of the Human experience. I include Dickens because his works, although they were literature, were transformed into great works of stage and screen performances. Dr. Flloyd Kennedy reminded me that Dickens read his works aloud as public performances. Additionally, it is Dickens who actually saw the legendary Clown Joseph Grimaldi perform live!!! And it was he, Dickens, who from Grimaldi’s own 400 autobiographical pages notes, that he (Dickens) then wrote The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi. Further Marceau was so inspired by Dickens’ character “Pip” that Marceau acknowledged his inspiration to call his own Clown character “Bip”. Chaplin himself was born into a ‘Dickensian life’ in Victorian London.

Chaplin is especially greater artistically in his feature films. In his earlier short films he was a rough knockabout clown and did very naughty things, kicking people, tripping people, and stealing albeit to survive as The Tramp. Virtually all of those early films were churned out in a minimal amount of rehearsal time.

But his greatest works became about the survivor in society and the World at large. Feature films were those such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus, Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator and later on Limelight. His figure, his character “The Tramp Charlie” was the last one who figured out how to get by in this crazy world.

The Path of Honour is to pay honour to our elders, the people who created the pathway of modern clowning. But even more important is to pay honour to this unusual artform and to honour one’s own place within it by honouring the recording and known lineage.

There is another issue in Clown that The Four Articulations assists with. That is “How to think as a Clown”.

First things first though. I prefer that a sense of humour precedes being funny. And before that humour gets a toe in the door via The 7 Solos, I prefer we follow the path of the most successful clowns. That is to take training seriously at the start of the day and develop a physical training regime. The Four Articulations is a tool for learning how to train and how to create your own individual training by first learning the universal principles encoded within The Four Articulations.

Coming back to “Thinking like a Clown”:

Thinking Like a Clown in a Practical and Repeatable Way Occurs, perhaps, in 4 Steps:

1) concise, clear physical training (including the Voice) that involves the mind;

2) develop your own sense of humour via The 7 Solos; develop your humour towards self-expression;

3) beginning experimentation with “Framing” (introduced in solo #2 The Buster Keaton Exercise) i.e. creating moving pictures spontaneously which can be read and understood by a stage partner as well as by anyone viewing;

4) applying your physicality (1) and your sense of humour (2) and your ability to ‘frame’ what you are communicating (3) to your own creations whether solo or with partners.

In The Path of Honour the exercises are named after: Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, Marcel Marceau, Josephine Baker, The Honeymooners/Jackie Gleason, and, The 3 Stooges.

The final exercise, the 9th is: “Tell a Story of a Clown”. There are no instructions for that exercise. It is the ultimate exercise and the final exercise in The Four Articulations for Performance.

Naree: Sometimes when I’m teaching about clowning I put out pictures of various clowns and I ask people to pick a couple of pictures that speak to them for some reason and to take on the shape of that clown. It is so powerful doing that, the act of activating the body, it’s inviting in the essence of what is captured in the greatness of those who have gone before us.

You speak about how we can consider that the great clowns are our elders, as the Mothers and Fathers of Modern Clown.

I remember one time, you gave us the task of performing a one minute routine of one of these great clowns. I chose Josephine Baker and her song “Don’t Touch My Tomatoes.” It was an incredible experience to be able to just discover from her way of moving, her timing. I discovered an ease and grace in myself just from the act of doing her timing, her moves, her tempo, her stage directions, her choreography and it taught me how convoluted and complicated I become in my own choreography. It was a profound exercise for me at that time. It was very powerful for me to surrender into the knowingness that what she did worked. It was an incredible gift to trust in my body, to have the experience in my body of doing something that worked.

Our elders have something profound to offer us.

In my experience mentors have been essential to my unfoldment and growth. In life I have been searching and searching to find elders.

To your mind, why are elders so essential to the wellbeing of the community?

Ira: They have travelled where we haven’t. They have gone ahead of us. They can see the way, they can see the problems. They can often see the light ahead. We should also learn from Indigenous cultures for whom elders are an essential part of the culture. We live in Australia and there’s a lot of talk about indigenous rights, and we have to take care via respect of the indigenous people and the indigenous culture.

Yet we don’t seem to fully understand that they are teaching us as they have elders so too must we.

Their culture is adamant to respect a range of elders.

Such cultures have protocols of respect.

Maybe we are a bit ‘arrogant’, as the Westerners, we tend to give more respect to “it’s the me – me generation – we’re the ones who count”. True! They do count especially to me as a teacher! Nonetheless, actually we are missing a very big part of a human social structure by failing to reach out to proper elders.

My culture; Jewish culture, is firmly based on knowledgeable elders living and past via our few thousands of years evolving traditions. Of course we have famous knowledgeable elders, like Maimonides who is also called by his acronym – Rambam. There was also the Ramban, and Rashi. They and numerous other elders were knowledgeable scholars, and notably moralistic in their own lives. Intellectually they are, so to speak, like ‘our Socrates, Aristotle, Plato’. Maimonides was also a Physician and a prolific writer on Medicine, Philosophy, Science, and Torah. Gradually I chip away at reading his famous and mesmerising book The Guide for the Perplexed.

I think that culturally, most of us modern people have really lost our way, simply because we have lost our direct relationship with the most significant elders.

In Clown, I think that we have to be careful about who we choose for our elders. I think there have been a lot of mistakes as people have been encouraged to choose their teacher, their immediate teacher as their senior and elder. I think that in the field of Clown that has been shown sometimes to be a big mistake. Many of the teachers are not direct enough to say, for example: ‘look to Chaplin, to Carol Burnett, Tati, Toto, Ken Dodd, Nils Poppe, look at the extraordinary people who Carol Burnett worked with, look at their shows, look at their material, look at their talent. Look at Lucille Ball and the three actors that she worked with in her first TV series.’ I also encourage all in Clown to at the same time seek out information about the gifted writers and directors of so many great clowns.

My three main Mentors have each passed away. Harry Haythorne, Cletus Ball, Guillermo Keys-Arenas. There are two elder Clowns in Australia who have my on-going respect as my seniors: Dougie Ashton; and Gary Grant.

Now as an elder I think we elders also need humility.

The elder needs humility. Heavens, Clown teachers need humility; the best way to have humility and to hone that is to simply nurture respect for our elders – specifically and generally as stated: The Matriarchs and The Patriarchs. I define Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett and many others as the matriarchal lineage; and Chaplin and Keaton and many others as the patriarchal lineage. I mention such a few names here for simplicity’s sake. Like most Indigenous cultures, Clown has a double lineage consisting of a matriarchy combined with a patriarchy.

As the clown teachers need to respect their elders; that respect needs to be passed on to the following generations. I’m adamant about that; I respect myself as an elder but I also have elders and I have had significant Mentors and within my teaching I bring their voices alive in the studio and workshops.

Let’s come back to chat about the Space-Time Continuum. Part of the proposal of The Path of Honour is that it is the practice of Space-Time Continuum i.e. to learn to ‘think like a Clown’.

That is in my terms: to think like a Clown in the four themes of Body, Space, Time, Space-Time Continuum.

Body so that you are fully embodied head to toes to fingertips; in terms of Space that you are continually aware of where you and your partners are in Space; and that you share the Time with stage partners by Timing off of them; and the Space-Time Continuum set of 9 exercises, The Path of Honour, implies understanding that most of the legendary clowns also were also thinkers in advanced artistic ways and as people.

I propose that they were somehow aware of the Space-Time-Continuum i.e. a different way of thinking. They were aware, and, not only thinking of the physicality and timing and gags and craft and skills.

I propose that maybe, when we step into their shoes via the nine exercises, and also via my assignments to copy and mimic even just a minute or two of several of the great clowns from the footage of online archives –

Then we can begin to become aware of different ways of thinking as a human, as a person, as an artist. That’s what my work is really oriented towards – communicating artistically with our legitimate and greatest Clown Elders – the Matriarchy and Patriarchy…

Then how you use that work or ideas or techniques depends totally on your own aesthetics, what type of clowning or theatre or acting you want to do, it has nothing to do with generic dogma of saying this is clown and that isn’t. It’s about giving the actors the tools from which they can go deep into this as an art form or even as a profession.

Jim Carrey saw Jerry Lewis, Lewis saw Milton Berle, Berle saw and overlapped with all of the following stage performers during his childhood in film and stage: Chaplin, Keaton, W.C.Fields, Weber & Fields, Fanny Brice, Josephine Baker, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, George M. Cohan, and Bert Williams.

I am speaking and referencing a very deep, profound and living lineage that we can all tune into. Still I am only hinting at a profoundly complex, deep and profound heritage for all clowns.

As a self-exploration The Four Articulations exercises are beautiful to do in the studio. You don’t have to become a performer; you can just do them in the studio. The solos you can do in your own home, in your living room. They are deep, they are meaningful. They are freeing, they are releasing and they are creative, right away. Yet they are each very simple with clear instructions.

Naree: Hearing some of these words is triggering me in some way, it’s in relation to the tool kit, not just the tool kit as an actor, but the toolkit that we as people need. A couple of really important tools are cultivating the quality of humility and the quality of respect. I’ve found that they are lacking in a lot of places. Did you watch the short movie about Adam Goodes, about the racist attacks that happened to him, about what has opened up as a result of that. There is a very powerful part where he speaks about his connection to the AFL and the power that that has within his culture, and he is so driven from a very deep place within himself, connected to his culture that he needs to step into the shoes of an elder, and that is why the day that he drew that line in the sand and he spoke up and he said enough is enough. He named some behaviours that were so damaging to our culture. And for me, this comes back to humility and respect. I just need to sit for a moment, Ira.

Ira: The relationship between humility and respect is something that every culture needs, a person needs, I need it, we all need it. We have problems in all cultures where some elders were damaging their own respect. That’s why you have moral and ethical codes that were and are in all cultures because sometimes people do the wrong thing, not only men but women also. And you have laws and you have punishments.

Altruistically speaking; punishment should not to lock up a person, but to free a person up. We’re not allowed to say the word punishment even though there are all kinds of people wanting other people to be punished. The real objective on the human level is so that the person becomes transformed somehow in the hope of being a better person. The purpose of punishment is to provide a space and/or time whereby that person who’s done something wrong can begin one’s own transformation and one’s own healing process. They can come back into society and be a better citizen and a contributor to the wellbeing of others. The relation between humility and respect is intertwined.

Naree: Yes and I think it’s very important in the context of one individual violating morals and ethics, there’s many reasons culturally that have supported and enabled that to happen. So the individual is not separate from the culture and the culture is not separate from the individual.

I feel that we are living in really challenging times and as a sensitive person.

However, as a sensitive person, I have often found myself silenced within many cultural contexts. Family, workplaces, and systems that underpin all aspects of living. And there is a dominant cultural attitude that creativity can happen as a nice add on, after the important business has been taken care of first, then, we can do a nice little bit of creativity on the side. However I’ve got a problem with that. I feel that to be alive is itself creative. I have found in my own life that my healing is intricately connected to my creativity and my creativity is about reconnecting with my aliveness, my spirit, which is located in my body. When the Body/mind is allowed to be in its natural state, there is harmony, and creative expression will be the natural result.

There is a massive gap between the intellect and em-body-ment. There is an extreme case of disembodiment throughout many cultures that I have experienced. How do you see that we can heal this Cartesian split?

There is a virus of disembodiment. Dr Seidenstein, what is the antidote to this predicament?

Ira: First of all it’s up to the individual to awaken their body’s intelligence. That can occur in unlimited ways even going out for a regular walk; or it’s being inside and creatively playing and moving; or learning to stand still in meaningful techniques like in Chi Kung or in something like the Tree Pose in yoga.

There are many different ways of triggering the intelligence of the body. It’s not about the vanity that body-building can sometimes be, and it’s not the sometimes egotistical way that so-called spiritual practices can be, because they feed the ego just as much as body building does. We also need to study and study the great theological texts. Because there have been people who were great thinkers and they’ve recorded their thoughts for us as humans.

The individual needs to engage with them self, first of all, in meaningful physical activity, ideally in creative ways too, and deeper profound searching’s inside of texts. Meaning texts of people in the past, who had great wisdom and recorded their thoughts and sometimes their students, their prodigies recorded their thoughts.

And that’s a big subject and we have very different opinions about what’s deep and meaningful but that’s the individual’s journey. Learning to appreciate art and music and learning to communicate about what you notice and experience or are challenged by, to question and ponder. One of the most essential elements with the teaching of The Four Articulations for Performance is when I pause after an exercise to ask the Participants to gather close together and I ask:

“Is there anything that you noticed? Anything that is new, different or interesting?”

It is normal that I will stop and ask that pair of questions several times most training days. I also communicate that “Anything that an actor notices is ‘good’ even if it is something troublesome or even negative. If they notice, the noticing itself is a very good thing”.

We need a renaissance and it can’t just be driven by economic rationalism or communism or capitalism nor socialism. We might be able to take the best from any of those and create something new? But really a number of countries have actually attempted to take the most useful aspects. However, what happens sooner than later is that the professional politicians rally their political party to attempt to dominate the dialogue rather than deal with issues and potential solutions.

The arts themselves can be mercenary and materialistic.

We live in paradoxical times and places and we have to understand that.

The Space-Time Continuum is a paradoxical situation where, through the exercises you have to be conscious. And when you’re conscious, my theory is that the subconscious is free to guide you artistically.

But you need to be conscious first.

Here is the structure of each Four Articulations exercise:

  1. You need to know where you are in space;
  2. You need to know what you are doing with your body.
  3. What is it you are trying to express right now?
  4. When you are consciously aware of those three things your subconscious can naturally arise and do its job.

Whereas in the Soviet, Socialist, Communist Way, or in the American, Capitalist way the subconscious has very little honour. Perhaps that’s why those systems do not appear to be so ‘spiritual’? There’s not a simple answer to your question, and your question is not simple itself: what is the solution to the gap between intellectualism and disembodiment?

We should stick to our domain of the performing arts and if within we can create models of pathways to solutions then perhaps we can speak to other domains of society? On the other hand recently I read a motivational/leadership book by former US Navy submarine Captain L. David Marquet titled “Turn The Ship Around”. In other words, it seems that a person such as a submarine Captain has a knowledge about things that really matter and those that may not. (there is a short form version free online).

Within our realm of the performing arts: one needs to be physicalizing your creativity; you need to have a function in society where you are helping other people; you need to have education; and that means all our dimensions as a human being. People might think meditation will fix it. No, it won’t, but there’s nothing wrong with 10 minutes or 100 of meditation. If that was a plumber and meditation was a part of their course, then meditation would offer different things. That could be OK?

Naree: The plumber’s meditation on shit?:)

Ira: Why not! What they’re doing, it’s one of the eight limbs of yoga, what the yogis called bhakti yoga, and it’s the yoga of work. But with that they could nurture their soul a little bit, as can all of us, by nurturing more understanding of classical music, and the great jazz music, and actual ethnic music, not world music. Just as we could nurture our soul, by doing a bit of plumbing.

World music is a pop version of actual ethnic music. It’s not the same thing. Some kinds of music have a depth, they touch a depth in the human, and a lot of music that’s popular may possibly lack depth? Some music makes people a bit superficial. The interview that I did in Croatia with Marijana Matokovic, in that I talk a bit about the superficial versus depth in the arts.

Naree: There’s something about what it means to allow our depth and breadth and I think they’re part of what will really sustain us. As an artist, as a human being, how do we really sustain ourselves? Continually regenerate through what we are doing. There’s a story I heard many years ago that I feel speaks to this.

This Mother was out walking with her young daughter and they passed the yard where a great artist was sitting in his garden and appeared to be doing nothing. He was simply enjoying the sunshine and the garden. The Mother said “Ahhh, you’re on holiday today.” “I’m working today” was the artist’s reply. Another day the mother and her young daughter walked past the artist who was standing up painting on an easel. “Ahhh, you’re working today.” “I’m resting today” was the artist’s response.

This paradox of resting in the work and working in the rest:

Could you speak about rest and how it works in the creative process?

Ira: That’s great phrasing: “This paradox of resting in the work and working in the rest”.

Something I discovered as a young performer, artist; that I called “creative frustration”. I was a bit of a wanderer and was having different experiences and I’d travel to different places and had different jobs, but when I was teaching and was beginning my first teaching position, suddenly I wasn’t creating, that is I wasn’t doing my shows anymore. I wasn’t practising enough, and that was my fault. I had time, but I didn’t practise enough. I never have. But I realised there was this frustration building up inside.

Then at some point, bam, an idea for a new show came. And bam I said I’m going to put it in a theatre in 10 days. Where are you going to find a theatre? I don’t know, but I will. The next day I found one that had those days available that I wanted. And in 10 days I was on stage doing this show that led to a big creative release, and another show came out of that and opportunities came from that and transformation within myself came. Remarkably it was that show and its immediate reformulation that led directly to contracts for my first tours Downunder (Australia and New Zealand).

But the creative frustration was very important. I always thought wouldn’t it be great to be a painter or a musician, because as a painter I could put up an easel over here and I could be an artist here and I could paint and if I could play music if I was really a musician I could pick up an instrument and I could play 10 songs and I could be creatively involved right away, hearing the music, playing the music.

But as a clown, there better be someone there, there better be someone for me to entertain. So it’s different. There are many different ways to be an artist. You don’t have to sell it, you don’t have to. I’m a clown whether there’s a public or not. But even though I’m at home, you’re my Zoom.

So, you asked about rest and I think rest is really important. The creative frustration leads to your next great work. And I also think you have to learn how to rest but the individual has to go on a big journey to learn how to do that. You have to learn how to use rest to be more productive, for your own sense of productivity. Everybody is very different about that. That’s a topic in itself. The Four Articulations are there to help people encounter all these practical questions. So you have a little training that you do as a warm up, the physical exercises, The Three Loosenings then you have The Core Mechanics; a bit of a Quantum Vocal Warm Up including a few minutes of Cultural Singing; then The 7 Solos. That should take about half an hour or so. Maybe 40 minutes? But then what? That’s your question. You have to learn how to negotiate when to rest, when to work, when to push, when to pull back. When to repeat. When to improvise. When to get down to constructing. When you are constructing, you have to edit. The Four Articulations are to give anybody who is interested in performing arts, to give them a creative, artistic foundation, from which they can do their own proper exploration and transformation.

Naree: In your book Clown Secret you offer a lot of insights that are invaluable for anybody wanting to be able to unlock their own creative treasure chest. On the very last page you write:

Every secret follows after the main one which is that your grace, your talent, your genius, your humour happen when you do two things at once which are to take conscious control of what you are actually doing physically in space and time, and, while doing that you allow your subconscious to open and guide you.”

Ira: pretty good right? 🙂

Naree: pretty darn good.

It’s time for us to wrap up. For our wrap up I’m bringing in a few other voices to join us, for our grand finale of this series of conversations about “What does a clown know?”

Glen Gould the masterful musician playing & playing Bach’s Fugue no 16, in G minor.

Please feel free, in this wrap up if there’s anything you’d like to add.

Ira: You hear that and you need to get up and move.Ira gets up and starts to express and articulate through his body his response to the music.

Naree: Why did you choose that particular piece of Bach?

Ira: It had a clown quality to it, a lightness, what’s that pianist, David? The movie that was about him?

Ira sits down puffed smiling at the conclusion of the piece. It makes me think of the final moment in “The Josephine Baker Exercise”, when you get a glimpse into the depth of the soul of the artist.


In the last few days at the end of May and beginning of June 2023 here are three points that I haven’t mentioned and have not discussed enough in my other writings.

1.A week ago to raise my general fitness level I wondered what would happen if I did an auxiliary exercise that I occasionally include when teaching The Four Articulations. That is The Neo-Expressionistic Dance Exercise; and with the first phase test to do that for 20 minutes every day for a month. At first I thought I should only put the timer on for 5 minutes as I didn’t think I had the energy or mental concentration to improvise non-stop for 20 minutes. I thought I could do 5 minutes four times in a day to start with. On the fourth day I was able to do 20 minutes in a row. Still I only used a timing of 5 minutes but as it turned out I did that four times in a row. I simply restarted the timer each time and restarted with a fresh improvisation. On the 4th day I began to vocalise in the fourth timed section. Yesterday day 5 I did vocalising occasionally and also today day 6. Yesterday and today I also did a continuous 20 minutes including resetting the timer every 5 minutes. My 2nd busking act in taverns was basically this same type of freeform movement combining dance and mime and clown. That was late 1976 and early 1977. Then in 1979 in part inspired from my own experiments and one of my Hippie books on ‘improvised tai-chi’ by Al Chung-liang Huang Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain from which I created Individual Tai-Chi Exercise. At that time I asked the actors to do the exercise with their eyes closed. That meant that they had to move slow enough so that they did not strike anyone. It was in a large hall so people could also sense someone coming near. Quite a few years later I made this a 15-minutes practice within the one hour “Quantum-Five-Part Warm Up”. Then several years later in a further adjustment that practice became The Neo-Expressionistic Dance Exercise. The structure is simple: the actors begin movement anyway they want or feel like for about 1 and 1⁄2 minutes or so. Then I put on some arbitrary music at a low volume with the previous directive that the actor should not respond blatantly to the music rather they should continue their movement although they can hear the music. That is so they understand not to be dictated to by my music. My work with music is the same as with texts or with set clown routines, the actor/performer is the interpreter of any such set elements. Eventually the participant can go in and out of working with or counter to or counter intuitively with the music or not. In such workshop situations I try to have the participants continue for about 10-20 minutes. During that time I will occasionally cut out and restart the music and sometimes I will change the music.

2. I have mentioned that there is a concept of Ten Principles that comprise the intellectual structure of my whole method conceptually. The Principle of Three mentioned was Time-Timing-Timelessness and I mention that it was central to the whole method. However there is another central principle, The Principle of Four. That is established physically and practically with the first of The 7 Solos ie The Creative Twist. The Principle of Four is Body-Voice-Creativity-Performance.

3. Further information is available via the pair of books: Clown Secret; and Quantum Theatre: Slapstick to Shakespeare. Also via the website www.iraseid.com On the website is the blog with more than 60 essays; also there is a page for the I.S.A.A.C. Creative Mentorship; Contact; and more…

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 below:

Part 1 Body

Part 2 Space

Part 3 Time

Part 4 Space-Time Continuum

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Ira Seidenstein