Is LOL Contagious?: Clowning in Digital Times

Neslihan Arol
Is LOL Contagious?: Clowning in Digital Times

Online block seminar with presence sessions, English/Deutsch, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Friday/Saturday 25./26.6. and 2./3.7.2021, Fridays: 14-18 h, Saturdays: 10-17 h
Mixture of video sessions and self-/group-work: please keep the entire time slot free for the seminar.

The Coronavirus pandemic led bodies into crisis. The bodily copresence became questionable. Masks became a natural part of our lives along with the fear of infection and obligatory isolation. The performing arts is one of the areas that is most affected by the crisis of contactless society. Performers are struggling. Under these precarious circumstances, they often look for ways to digitalize their work.

How about performers, who depend on proximity and bodily copresence for their art, such as comedians? Anybody, who has been to a comedy club, knows the drill. If the club is not full, the MC wants the audience members to sit close to each other and to the stage. The closer the bodies are together, more contagious the laughter. How does laughter work in digital age without the bodily copresence? If the only audience is behind the screen, how does the comedian-audience relationship function in live performance? How is this relationship affected in clowning, where the clown not only plays for but also with the audience? With such questions in mind, we will practice clowning and experiment with the form in our online courses. We will experience the limits and potentials of online learning and online applications of clown practice. If the conditions allow us to meet outside or in a big room by the time the course takes place, we will hopefully have the chance to meet at least one day in person to experience clowning methods in a more natural setting, albeit with social distancing.

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits: Active and regular participation in discussions and clowning exercises, presentation of individual/group improvisations. No previous clowning or performance experience is required for the course. You will only need to have one red nose with an elastic band.

Neslihan Arol combines her artistic and academic work in a multifaceted practice. She finished her MA in Film & Drama Programme of Kadir Has University Istanbul with a practice-based research on clowning from a feminist perspective. For her PhD at the UdK Berlin, she expanded her scope to include stand-up comedy and meddahlık (Turkish storytelling tradition). She showed artistic outcomes of this work on various occasions including international festivals in Helsinki, Izmir, Vienna and shared her academic findings in many conferences around the world. More information on her practice can be read in her article published in "Staging Gender — Reflexionen aus Theorie und Praxis der performativen Künste" (2019). In addition to her PhD, she continues an artistic research project on shadow play as an associate fellow at BAS since 2019. After her move to Berlin, she performed with groups such as "Clowns ohne Grenzen" and "Bühne für Menschenrechte", started teaching clowning & storytelling.