The Duo of Play, Navigating the Relationship

An Interview with Ami Hattab

International School of Humour Workshop - January 19th to 22nd

RED NOSES International (RNI) regularly invites renowned experts to the International School of Humour (ISH) to share their expertise with our artists. 

In January, we welcomed Ami Hattab, a man of many talents (you can see why here). Having previously worked with artistic organisations such as Cirque de Soleil, Big Apple's Clown Care Unit, Le Rire Médecin and La Cascade. Ami offers a wealth of knowledge for each workshop participant. We caught him on a short break during his workshop, “The Duo of Play, Navigating the Relationship”. Here’s a shortened version of the conversation below.

RNI: First off, thank you for accepting our invitation to come to the ISH. For over ten years now, you’ve instructed at the ISH. Each time, the artists express their satisfaction with your methodology and professionalism. Can you tell us more about this workshop?

A: It’s always a pleasure to come to Vienna. Working with [RNI] is always exciting. The first thing that I always see when I come [to the ISH] is that the artists are curious and hungry for knowledge. They are eager, just as I am, to try new things. It is a beautiful environment to be a professor.

Concerning the workshop, we will work on the clown's communication and interaction with their partner during the visit. The relationship between the two clowns is an important element for any visit. 

Their interactions can be based on status, on a physical or emotional state, or any other dynamic between the two characters. This relationship is an inexhaustible resource from which we can draw material for the clown duo play. 

RNI: If there was one skill you want all our clowns to be able to use tomorrow in their hospital visits, which one would it be?

A: I want each clown to deepen their capacity to connect with their partner in a verbal and non-verbal manner so they are able, as a pair, to identify what elements are chosen to create play together. With a better improvised manner of play, the better our audience, the patients, will connect with us! 

What I really like about RED NOSES is the commitment to equipping artists with the tools they need to improve their work in hospitals. My tools can be used immediately. That’s how I design all my workshops, including this one.

And with that improvised play, each clown can touch the patient’s heart. Hospital clowns need to have the competencies necessary in order to create that human connection.

 

RNI: Obviously this requires a lot of training and practice. What is your definition of a good clown?

A: I believe, particularly for hospital clowning, that the hospital room is also the training room. It is essential for each clown to realize the importance of this setting.

To be a good clown, we are called to be funny, touching, but also recognizable. It is much beyond the comedic aspect. You need to have the ability to connect on a deeper level with your audience. It's a challenging, and often, rewarding task!

RNI: One last question then, for our readers. Do you have any advice to those reading this interview? 

A: I would say [to the readers is] to be more receptive, in the widest sense possible. Give space for what happens, even before you say something or act. If you are a parent, tune in with your child. It is essential to listen. But direct this receptiveness to encouraging playfulness. Be open and invite play.

RNI: Thank you Ami for your passion and for sharing your knowledge with our artists at the ISH. We are excited to see our artists continue to grow as professionals in their work with patients young and old. 

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