How to Create Marvellous Worlds of Movies

An Interview with Sergi Estebanell and Alina Stockinger

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

A while back, we had the pleasure of inviting back Sergi Estebanell, the Artistic Director of Pallapupas (a hospital clown organisation based in Barcelona) and Alina Stockinger, a talented artist and frequent collaborator. Imagination is a key tool in their workshops - to create a story, to change it and to adapt it to suit the spontaneous things children will do. 

Although the two trainers come from different backgrounds, they have successfully created a workshop where the artist learns how to use ordinary settings to create magical worlds for those they visit in hospitals.

As we sit down together, Sergi and Alina seem composed and relaxed even though the workshop starts relatively soon. They often complete each others sentences, a sign you can tell how they have perfected their collaborative approach.

Photo credit: Nikos Anagnostopoulos

RNI: So tell us, what is the workshop about and what do you want to teach the participants?

S: If I may go first Alina, this workshop is named “How to Create Marvelous Worlds of Film”. I concentrate on how we create stories in hospitals. An artist must always be aware how we can transform ourselves as a clown to not only be a clown, but multiple characters. So we work on changing the physicality of our characters, changing our voices, changing our emotions, it really is challenging work.

A: It’s all part of Sergi’s approach. He emphasies that the visit is not about the artist. Quite the opposite actually. The artist is at the service of the story, all the time. The story flows and grows with the artist, but they should never seek to gain attention from it. 

RNI: Fascinating. So how does this help the children after a visit?

S: As I said, as the story grows and follows its natural progression, magic is created. Each artist should strive to leave a tool in the hand’s of the parents and the children. No – let me rephrase that - a lasting in their hands. This power grants them the initiative to turn any ordinary moment into something extra-ordinary, something playful. 

RNI: The story is always important. How do you ensure that the clown is prepared to handle all of this responsibility?

A: The artists are the engines in creating the story. They play the dual role of both creator and director. In order to achieve this, the artists must be totally aware in each moment both with the emotions in the room, but also how receptive their audience is.  That is where I come in.

I try to develop the physical and vocal training of each artist. In order to effectievly do their work, the artists must be present and available for each person they encounter. 

S: Alina, you are so right! In my workshops, my philosophy always stays the same. In order to connect with others, you yourself must be in the right mindset. There are three parts from you that must be connected, they are your heart, your mind and your body, in unison so you can play.

RNI: So where did this philosphy develop? How does it help in your own regular clown work? 

S: I have a background combining both theatrical work and street performances. During each performance, you live or die by how the audience perceives you. The clown, for me, is the most connected and reflective of the various artforms. As the Artistic Director of Pallapupas, this cannot be more true when I see my own clowns conducting their hospital visits.

A: To be more philisophical, what Sergi is trying to say is that being a clown teaches you another way to connect with people in real life. It is more about receiving emotions, receiving information and understanding how to work with these signals in a productive and humorous way. 

RNI: So then, if you were to describe what it means to be a clown in one sentence, what would it be?

A: For me, the clown is a part of yourself that loves to play with your own personality. 

S: I like Alina’s answer, but I have my own. The clown is not a character, it is a way of life. It is a way to accept the world and simply be. 

RNI: Thank you for the interview!

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