Those of us who grew up in Chandigarh are not unfamiliar with the red nose, smiling face, and funky clothes of a clown. Be it in the market, on a school fete, or at a friend’s birthday party, we’ve all encountered the happy demeanour of a clown. Now, how often did you actually stop to interact with this quirky little character? Are you aware that Chandigarh is also home to a world of amusing little clowns? They can be spotted every now and then in quaint little corners of the tricity, spreading cheer and joy with those around them. Here’s a look at some instances when these comic characters were seen out and about amidst the rest of us.
Red Nose Day @ Sector 17
On April 4, 2017, all the clowns in town stepped into the bright evening sun to celebrate Red Nose Day at the Sector 17 Plaza. Individuals from various backgrounds, including artists and non-artists, performed short sketches wearing red noses and dressed as clowns, to the Sector 17 audience that gathered around. Interactions between performers and onlookers made it possible for all present there to indulge in the frolickery of Red Nose Day. This international day of giggles and laughter is celebrated the world over at different times of the year, each country celebrating it in their unique way. In Chandigarh, a clowning workshop was facilitated by Stavros Kerellos, Asmaa Hassan, and Marwa Haiba of HsHs Clowns, Egypt, in collaboration with Chandigarh’s own Purple Mangoes and CEVA Drama Repertory Company. The outcome of this workshop then became the April spectacle in Sector 17.
Atkal Pachchu @ Tagore Theatre
The art of clowning in Chandigarh is not limited to a one-off public act, but is a constant and firm presence in Chandi’s theatre circuit. Directed by clowning veteran Sukhmani Kohli, the play Atkal Pachchu was staged at the time-honoured auditorium, Tagore Theatre, in February this year. The title of the play loosely translates to ‘randomly imagined’, a phrase that puts into words exactly how clowns lead their lives. The plot presents to us the clown Buggi and his first ever visit to Earth in his spaceship-cum-washing machine. He meets other clowns on Earth who are kind enough to help him out. In the process of exploring the planet, Buggi finds himself engaged in a series of comic occurrences, thus presenting our world to us through a humorous and farcical lens.
CEVA @ GMSH, Sector 16
Chandigarh based NGO Center for Education and Voluntary Action (CEVA) took to hospitals and destitute homes back in 2016 to spread the joy and wonder of clowning amongst ailing patients and children. The clowning sessions were inspired by the need to facilitate a patient’s healing process by giving them a healthy, happy, and cheerful environment. The programme was launched at the orthopedic ward of the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital in Sector 16, and spread from there on. Hospitals are generally drab and dry places to be at, let alone live in for days at a stretch. The splashes of colour and merriment that these clowning sessions bring to the dull corridors are known to help children and older patients adapt to and deal with a painful medical environment.
Romeo, Juliet and Seven Clowns @ Tagore Theatre
This clown play had audiences gripping their seats through multiple shows at Tagore Theatre back in 2012 and 2013. Devised and performed by actors of Purple Mangoes and CEVA Drama Repertory Company, the play took us on a journey of love along with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, to find our inner clown through them. Additionally, an ensemble cast of the seven clowns became the agents of love, but from a clown’s perspective. The play also made use of Baba Bulleh Shah’s poetry to explore this conundrum of clownery and love and present to us the curious mixture of flavours that is called life.
There we have it! There is bold proof of the underground activities of clowns in and around Chandigarh. All that’s left is to tune into their frequency and tap into their minds to know when they’ll be spotted and in which part of this city beautiful. If you feel a magnetic pull of uninhibited gaiety and unabashed frivolity, you’ll know it’s the call of the clowns. Be sure to not miss the fun!