Internationally renowned Swiss clown-comedian Gardi Hutter gives workshop in Cairo

Ahram Online , Friday 17 Dec 2021

Gardi Hutter, a clown-comedian, author and actress from Switzerland gave a clowning workshop at Falaki Theatre in Cairo.


Taking place on 15 and 16 December, the workshop was part of the ongoing Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFET), whose 28th edition is being held between 14 and 19 December. Her workshop comes prior to the honourary performance that she will stage during the festival's final days.

In her workshop, the multi-award winning artist told the participants about the origins of clowning, which are much older than the performances we know from today’s modern circus. According to her, clowns are very old characters, who incorporated themes of life and death into festivities and celebrations.

Though in ancient times, there were different characters and masks that incorporated characteristics of the clown, it was only in the 15th century that the term “clown” appeared for the first time. In 19th century the grotesque character of clown entered the first modern circus.

One of Europe's pioneering woman clowns, Hutter also explained the character of clown as it is presented on contemporary stages.

"Clowns are very sweet and very cruel, very clever and very stupid. The clown's intentions are not moralistic as he is both, good and bad," she said while pointing to the fact that clowns allow us to laugh in front of the inevitable ending of life.

During the workshop Hutter described the dramaturgy behind a clown. "Clowns always exaggerate, they make a big issue out of a trivial thing. If you want to create clown's character you need to look for a big catastrophe and tailor the dramaturgy around it. Clowning is not about small jokes and small ideas. It is about a bigger story that is blown out of proportions by the clown and within which he creates funny moments."

Hutter also spoke about importance of interaction with the audience since in the art of clowning the fourth wall of theatre is removed.

Hutter is one of the best known woman clowns in Europe, whose practice goes back to the 1970s. In the early 1980s she created her most successful show titled Jane the Brave. The performance was staged over 1,300 times across numerous countries. Jane the Brave will be staged in Cairo on 18 and 19 December, within the activities of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre.

"Since 1981, Gardi Hutter has taken her clown theatre halfway round the world, putting over 3,700 shows in 35 countries so far. She has created eight theatre and one circus productions and been awarded 18 prizes for her art. Gardi Hutter’s stories are tragicomic parables of the today world, with moll and without moralising. Her characters show all facets of female non-virtues: tousled, fury, nasty, crazy, touching and poetic. The press calls her a 'comic phenomena'," reads the description on her website.

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