The Perfect Balance with Toomas Tross

A Workshop on Clowning and Comedy

“Sometimes it’s not the number that’s important, or the trick that’s important: for the audience, it’s why you are in front of them. I believe, I really truly believe, that there is an exchange of energy between a Performer and a Kid Audience. They’re always open. They haven’t closed yet. We, adults, are closing ourselves because of our everyday routine, duties, and what is smashing us down. We’re not so open anymore. And if an adult is open, we think, “oh, they’re a strange person.” Kids are always open and that’s why there always has to be a good person on the stage, and those good people are the basis of clowns.”

-Toomas Tross

If you had the pleasure of attending the Clown and Comedy Workshop at the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2019, you would have met Toomas Tross, an Actor, Clown, Teacher, Owner of Piip and Tuut Theatre, and the Workshop Leader for this session. Toomas went to The Commedia School in Denmark and brought his wealth of experience from training, performing, and teaching to the workshop.

Toomas began our workshop with exercises on balance and warming up the body. We all agreed stretching and getting centered was a great way to start our first day at the Artistic Gathering. He then moved onto games exploring sound and physicality within the group. Utilising the camaraderie being developed, as well as the focused energy from such exercises, we started playing more and more challenging games. The final exercise for the day was executed using only a chair and a live audience who cheered the oncoming players. After each person sat down, Toomas would ask us to observe what we saw. I was lucky enough to record the many sounds you would hear in a clown classroom.

The Audience Cheering on the Oncoming Players!

Because of my acting training, I had an idea of what the workshop would entail. We would warm up, come together as a group for games, and then leave with the groundwork and inspiration for our own clown projects. What was unexpected for me, was how Tross linked all of our simple exercises to the many complexities of performing. Concentration, breath, balance, and of course, our relationship with our audience were only a few of the very many topics that came up in the session. Leaving my interview with Toomas, I realised how much he had taught during the workshop in such a short time – it was a privilege to be able to observe and document.

Hana Holloway is an experienced young American educator and theatre artist. Her passion for writing, puppetry, and devising theatre has led her to diverse opportunities in the Performing Arts. She was invited to be a Porter Fellow for the 2019 Theatre for Young Audiences USA conference and was accepted into the apprentice company for the 2017 Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is now a Programme Director for ​‘Lights, Camera, Learn!​‘, a nonprofit that educates and empowers children through the art of filmmaking which has recently brought her to Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine, and Dubai. Hana sees theatre as a transformative art form that has the power to impact change in the world.