The Clowns have Arrived!

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Red Nose Relief in collaboration with Clowns without Borders

Gabi and I arrived in Jakarta yesterday afternoon, and were introduced to the Red Nose Foundation team and to Jakarta’s formidable traffic.  Gabi and I had never met before, so we got to know one another while attempting to stay awake to combat jetlag. We made it to 8:30 pm.

This morning we drove with our host Dan (Red Nose founder/director) and his team to the village of Cilincing, 45 minutes from downtown Jakarta, where Red Nose runs a small school to teach circus and english.  Dan showed us around the sea-front fishing village, which is a very rough and crowded bario literally built on trash, discarded shells, and cement.  It was a little intimidating but Dan seems to know everybody in town, including his many circus students.

We walked to an elementary school nearby where Red Nose is sponsoring a new renovation.  There was a ceremony and also a chance to help lay down a new brick courtyard.  Gabi and I helped level and set bricks for half an hour, before retiring to a classroom to work on show ideas.

Over lunch we pulled together a plan for a short show with Darmadi and Dedi, two members of Red Nose who will be sharing the stage with us this trip.  Then, less than 24 hours after landing in Indonesia, we mounted our first show for over 250 children from the neighborhood.  We did some club juggling, diabolo, tug of war, and some improvisation, with Dedi contributing a sing-along song.  Over-all the show was judged a success; with many smiles from the local kids, school teachers, and others.  It also gave Gabi, Dedi, Darmadi and I a chance to get to know each-other as performers, having just met we thought we acquitted ourselves well.

Tonight Kolleen, our third CWB clown compatriot, arrives; and tomorrow we will have time for proper rehearsal.  Tuesday we leave for the remote island of Mentawai, off the coast of Sumatra, with Dedi, Darmadi, and a Jakarta reporter and photographer.  After a twelve hour boat ride, we’ll stay there for eleven days of shows and workshops.  Here in Jakarta we have easy access to the internet, but Mentawai has little electricity, so we do not expect to be able to send regular updates during that week.

So if you don’t hear much from us, at least know the trip is off to a promising start!
Jan Damm

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