Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Clowns on the Horizon

On Thursday December 4, Dan and I volunteered with the group Bohócok a Láthatáron, Clowns on the Horizon. The group was created by Yvette Feuer, a Fulbright Grantee to the United States in 2003.  The mission of the group is as follows:

"Clowns on the Horizon is a not-for profit group of Hungarian actor-clowns whose mission is to bring joy to and develop the cultural and life of impoverished and marginalized communities all over Hungary. The group was founded in 2010 by Yvette Feuer, actor, clown, drama teacher and child psycho-dramatist.  Our aim is to engender understanding and acceptance between Romany and non-Romany communities, which we accomplish through clowning-based shows, drama workshops and communal programs. These engage children, teachers and parents of both communities to break down conventional attitudes of mutual mistrust and fear by illuminating our shared humanity."

We went with the group to Letkés, a small town (about 1200) on the northern border of Hungary. Actually, the border was so close that our cell phones thought we were in Slovakia. After we arrived at the school we prepared for the performance. The clowns performed in the gymnasium of the elementary school.

After their skit was finished, Dan and I helped with some games for the older students. These included a game where everyone would dance as hard as possible and then freeze when the music stopped. We also made a large conga line to snake around the room. After about 30 minutes of dancing, we, and the kids, were worn out. The school generously provided lunch for us. After lunch, we worked with the younger students. Dan worked with a group of kindergarteners with painting and coloring activities. I worked with a group of second graders. My group was focused on music. Our first activity was a call and response game of various rhythms and sounds.  Next, we gave each of the children small instruments. Then we demonstrated signs for the group to play loud, soft, fast, and slow. Yvette and I took turns conducting the students and then we gave the children the opportunity to conduct. They loved it! Finally, I taught the children an easy American dance, the Bunny Hop. Bunny in Hungarian is nyuszi.  The children had a wonderful day watching the performance and participating in the activities.  My favorite part of the day was seeing the children smiling and laughing. I hope that we can work with the Clowns on the Horizon group again in the spring.

For more information about Clowns on the Horizon, visit their website at

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