One vital aspect to positive collaboration is having fun with the project.
Clowns Without Borders is a band of humorous performers making it their mission to bring smiles to the faces of those that need it most…the children of desperate and dire situations. Like those youngsters growing up in Haiti, Guatemala, or Burma.
I was able to get a moment of time with one of the founders of Clowns Without Borders and active humor provider, Moshe Cohen. Extremely busy and rushing off to his next set of joy creation, his answers were brief but thought provoking. Here is what he had to say…
SM: What inspired you to become a clown?
MC: I discovered that I was funny as a performer and that inspired me. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a clown, I like to think of it more as clowning, as a verb, as an action, something I do.
SM: As an original member of the Clowns Without Borders movement, what were key factors in it moving from a dream to the amazing organization that it is today?
MC: I don’t think it was ever a dream, it has always been a reality. It was a response to an enthusiastic reception, and the understanding that followed of the appreciation for bringing reasons for laughter and joyous expression in places of crisis.
SM: What inspired you to help develop the United States division of Clowns Without Borders?
MC: As I was involved in the movement, and the only person from the US doing shows, I discussed with Spain (Tortell Poltrona founded Payasos Sin Fronteras in 1993) about being their representative in the United States. That morphed a year later into starting the US chapter.
SM: Having been in the business for over 25 years now, have you seen any of the children that you helped in the beginning of your career as adults?
MC: A few here in California, however if you are talking about CWB, not directly.
SM: Please share a particular story that helped you believe in the power of collaboration.
MC: The most immediate is the work that I did last year in Myanmar (Burma).
There were artists from France, Belgium, Sweden (including an Australian who lives in Sweden) , myself from the US, and from Myanmar. Three shows were created to tour the delta area where the Nargis cyclone hit in 2008 creating a devastation on the order of the recent earthquake in Haiti. There was great collaboration in that each show involved Myanmar and Western artsists. The show I was involved in was with Kalle and Dave (SW-Aust.) and three Myanmar artists: May, Teto and Emié. We created our show in a day and a half, and performed it about 20 times over three weeks.
SM: What have the children taught you?
MC: A lot! Humility, patience, never give up!
SM: In addition to donations, you also accept “In-Kind” offerings. Have you had any interesting (off-the-wall, but very beneficial) gifts?
MC: I just picked up some juggling equipment destined for Haiti from the Renegades in Santa Cruz. They are showing us how to make juggling clubs with simple dowels and 1 liter coke bottles and a few screws and tape. They have supplied us with the dowels and the hardware, and we plan to build the clubs with the kids from Foyer Lakay in Port au Prince, some of whom are already excellent jugglers.
SM: How do the clowns create their acts?
MC: Ohhh, sooo many ways.
photo courtesy of Alain Laferté
SM: What is your favorite aspect to collaboration?
MC: The synergistic energies that swirl, the sense of enthusiasm it generates amongst participants, and the occasional sense of harmony when things are working just right.
SM: What is your vision for the future of Clowns Without Borders?
MC: I am liking what is happening in the increased communication and collaboration internationally between the various Clowns Without Borders chapters. That has been my vision for a long time and it is slowly being realized. Of course, ideally, as Tortell says, “Clowns without Borders would disappear because there are no more wars.”
Thank you Moshe Cohen and the others involved with Clowns Without Borders for spreading joy around the world.