Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Task of Art

"I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities that I have visited, all my ancestors."
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was a truly great writer. His short stories are masterworks of imagination and structure. They cleverly twist and morph our ideas of what literature and story is and can be. He expresses the beautiful cyclic connection between reality and fiction by reminding us of the "character of unreality in all literature." In this way he is relevant for the Illuminated Showman, for the nature of literature is also the nature of the Carnival; make-believe more real than reality itself.
Literature and Carnival Arts are human creations, made by man for man so per definition; artificial.
What Borges shows with exceptional beauty through his work is how this artificiality isn't something to be shunned or explained away but rather something to be playfully enjoyed and explored.

At the end of his life, now completely blind, he saw more clearly than ever the task of art and he sums it up beautifully and poignant what the art's role in the world is.
"The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory. That is our duty. If we don’t fulfill it, we feel unhappy. A writer or any artist has the sometimes joyful duty to transform all that into symbols. These symbols could be colors, forms or sounds. For a poet, the symbols are sounds and also words, fables, stories, poetry. The work of a poet never ends. It has nothing to do with working hours. Your are continuously receiving things from the external world. These must be transformed, and eventually will be transformed. This revelation can appear anytime. A poet never rests. He’s always working, even when he dreams. Besides, the life of a writer, is a lonely one. You think you are alone, and as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the center of a vast circle of invisible friends whom you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward."

If you don't know much about Borges you could start by checking out this documentary about him called The Mirror Man.

(Thanks to Open Culture for finding this.)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Clown Instructions

Colombaioni's Clown Seminar, 1968 

Some nice visual tips on slapstick, pratfalls and so forth.
Who is the teacher?
Carlo Colombaioni is an Italian clown who worked with Fellini in several movies.

From his website.
He was born in Ancona on Novembre 30th 1933. His family was big, he had five brothers and three sisters He grow up in the world of art, full immersed with jugglers, funambulists, acrobats and clowns. Then he started with the curtain-raiser, placing side by side with the most important Italian actors, like for example Antonio De Curtis, alias Totò, until he meets the great movie director Federico Fellini, and he took part to the famous movies “La Strada(the Street)”, “I clown”, “Amarcord”, “Roma” and “Casanova”. Carlo has been a great actor and he shared his talent with persons like Dario Fo, Federico Fellini and Jerzy Grotowsky. Later he went abroad, and he started his teatral career, becoming so famous in couple with his cousin Alberto Vitali.
The duet reach the top of the success, and they start to propose their shows all over the world, in the most important theaters.
Master Carlo passed on May 15th 2008, when he was 74 years old. He had already scheduled another show in Florence on to weeks later.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Houdini's Quest for Mystery

 A Crowd can feel spiritually restored after a great show. It has all the ingredients; deep group connection and a charismatic leader standing elevated before the crowd, guiding them through mysteries and good times. It is religion, it is showbiz, it is Life.
The Crowd has witnessed magic, they have glimpsed mystery. The showman knows just how much they all long for someone to tell them, and demonstrate, with ‘undeniable proof,’ that mind reading, contacting the dead, or any other supernatural feat, is indeed possible.
As the curtains come down and the lights come up the Crowd feels closer to the Truth, whilst the Showman sometimes feel further from truth and community than ever. If you are the one giving guidance and answers, who guides you?

Eric Weisz.
Erik Weisz was born in Budapest, Hungary on March 24, 1874. His family was Jewish and he loved his mother very much. As a young boy he read Robert-Houdin, the French father of modern magic's, autobiography. In it the aging conjuror recounts the tale of how he was sent to Africa to represent his country in a standoff between the two nation's greatest magicians.
"In 1856, the Marabouts, who controlled the will of the tribesmen by dazzling them with feats of magic, had all of Algeria on the brink of revolt. In a wise decision the colonial administration decided to try to beat the Marabouts at their own game and sent for Robert-Houdin, who had been entertaining the courts of Europe and had gained a reputation as the greatest magician in all the continent."
 (Read the full story here.)

Robert Houdin.
Robert-Houdin won the challenge in a clever use of technology. With electromagnetism and electric shocks he left the Marabouts awestruck. This chapter in Robert-Houdin's book made the young Eric Weisz decide that he wanted to become a magician. With unparallelled tenacity he set out to become the greatest magician of all time. But one can't conquer the world with a name like Eric Weiz, and like so many showmen before him he transformed himself into a Showman. Erik Weisz became Harry Houdini,who went on to become so famous his name can now be found the dictionary.
Although he started as a magician, the King of Cards,  and did a brief stint as a wildman, it was his escapes which would make him the King for which he is remembered: The King of Escapes.

Houdini as a young magician.
Houdini was very attached to his mother. This connection was so strong, Houdini feared that his mother's eventual death might drive him insane. As strange as this might sound it started a cascade of events which led our hero onto the next phase of his career; a debunker of spiritists and mediums. But where did this antagonism for spiritism come from?

The tools and demonstrations of the spiritist movement are Real Magic, meaning secular magic, the type that pulls rabbits out of hats. Effects such as tables levitating, ESP, spoon bending, and strange knocking on tables in the dark with messages from beyond, are all the domain of a branch of Real Magic called mentalism. This subdivision of magicians deal with telepathy, telekinesis, and so forth. So why did he attack fellow Craftsmen? Hasn’t a magician sworn not to divulge the secrets of magic to the Crowd?

'My two sweathearts'
 Houdini, Wife and Mother.
Houdini loved magic. He fastidiously researched the magic arts. Part of his study was a fervent collecting of any book, article, or mention of magic of any kind. He purchased several private collections and with his considerable wealth, wide acclaim and wide travel, he soon amassed perhaps the world's greatest library of magic; occult, alchemical and otherwise. But with each subsequent initiation of secular magic for the ever inquisitive, if not down right obsessive Houdini, the boundaries of supernatural magic was pushed before him.

Houdini in his famed library.

Houdini’s fear of madness hovered in the back of his mind. He began visiting asylums and graves of famous magician's and mystics. Eventually he met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the archdeacon of Spiritualism. 
In the late 1800’s this was a great obsession of the western world. It was not presented as stage magic, this was the foundation stones for a spiritual movement. It was like a religion grown from late night magic shows in carnivals. Tricks and illusions performed in the dark, whilst the participants held hands around a table, ghostly spirit-like lights would appear, ectoplasm, a ghostly manifestation, spewed forth from the spirit's mouth and onto the table, it was a great night out. 
People would be able to talk to their loved ones who had passed on. Unsaid things and unfinished business could come to final resolution. It was beautiful and heartfelt and much needed by the Crowd, but what was the story of the the presenters of these strange shows? The Showmen who created these very peculiar shows, what did they think they were doing?
Did they believe what they did was real? Were they just fraudsters making a quick buck when the popular imagination swung into their field of expertise? And finally: Did their intent make the Crowd's experience of the seance any less real?

Then his mother died. He had worried himself sick over this and then it happened. He was grief stricken. But since he didn't immediately descend into madness, at least not so that he has to be locked up in an Asylum, Houdini dug deeper and deeper into the spiritualist movement to find one real medium amongst the fraudsters and showmen. But there was none. Each new con-man pretending to be the voice of his departed mother added to his grief.

Perhaps this is where we find why Houdini, the magician, could debunk his fellow magicians, something a magician swears not to do. Of course he was angry and disappointed, but there was more to it than that. He picked up on a subtle difference between the mediums and mentalists.
The mediums claimed not to be magicians and used their knowledge of the magic Craft to make them spiritual gurus. This is nothing new, it's been done since the dawn of time, but they abused the Showman's Craft. This made them fair game. Houdini could as a magician debunk the mediums with good conscience. 
(The very fine line of spiritual guidance using the power of tricks to move Crowds gave birth to the Shaman, Showman and perhaps religion itself.) 
Houdini also debunked spiritualists, shown here 
demonstrating how illusions could be used to make it 
seem as if he is mollifying the vengeful ghost of Abraham
Lincoln with a book on modern rail splitting techniques.

"Houdini said that no medium had convinced him of his or her genuineness, as much as he would like to believe that spiritualism is a possibility. He gave instances of media who had admitted being frauds. Many, he said, are “plain crazy.” 

Every tale and every lead brought before him by spiritualists, Yogis or esoteric wizards would crumble before the showman’s knowledge. He sought a different magic and thought he had found it in the spiritist movement. Perhaps this is not so strange since his friend Conan Doyle was the one spinning the tricks and illusions of the séance mediums into story. I have myself been under this man's spell in his world of Sherlock Holmes. Who would not be swayed by the story telling prowess of Conan Doyle? Houdini wanted to believe, but couldn't.
There was no proof of any supernatural events having occurred that were not immediately explainable by the Craft. He really wanted to know. He wanted to discover supernatural magic so bad it increased the fervor of his search for a way to communicate with his mother on the other side. His disappointment with each successive medium began to infuriate him and turned him against the many charlatans praying on those weakened by grief and without knowledge of Real Magic. He now made himself the champion of these uninitiated people and took to the stage claiming that he would recreate any trick of any medium immediately right there on stage to prove them charlatans and cheaters.
Until the untimely end of his life Houdini never found even the tiniest shred of evidence that there was any other magic than the one that he, so spectacularly, had mastered.

 “During his life, Houdini, never escaped into genuine magical tradition, though not for a lack of trying: a man inspired, he was also a man who never identified his inspiration. His psychic struggle that ran through his life like a ghostly parallel to his physical efforts was directed towards plumbing a great mystery.”

If Houdini couldn’t find any so-called supernatural magic, if the king of magicians can’t find it, who can? Who would be better qualified to separate charlatans from the real deal? Without the knowledge of the Showman’s arts, how could anyone expect to know secular magic from miracles or supernatural events?

The truth Houdini discovered was perhaps the most terrible of all: the core of mystery is like the onion, empty but for the layers surrounding it. Peeling them back stings the eyes, tears will blind you, but if you persist to the core you will find a sweet nothing. (How Zen.) And this sweet nothing must be filled by us. We must live our lives fully aware of this absurdity. We want and crave inherent meaning in things, but upon inspection the architects of this meaning turns out to be ourselves.
This is the fate of the showman. The one who knows all the tricks of the Craft has ‘proofs’ of the impossible for the Crowd, but not for himself. He must stand alone and find a different kind of solace. 
Houdini was schooled, better than most, in the Craft. He found that the spiritists were but mirror images of himself. Where he had expected and hoped to find something more he found nothing but his own Craft. The snake bites its tale. It is perfect.
He glimpsed a truth from the Way of the Showman: there is sacrifice necessary for the good of others and this sacrifice creates real meaning for both the ones who give and those who receive. Meaning made by Man for Man, so it is artificial, but real non-the-less.

“Houdini could see from the reaction of his audiences that they expected and received much more than mere entertainment from his performances. Like him, they wanted answers to big questions; release from the doubts that plagued them; escape from the physical boundaries that imprisoned them. And they loved and worshipped him for the stupendous efforts he made on their behalf. Such a life certainly proves one thing: Showbiz, whether it likes it or even knows it, is bound by unbreakable chains to the shaman’s enduring magic. Even Harry Houdini could not escape from that.”

Friday, 13 April 2012

John Cleese on Creativity

The master of Silly Walks delivers a lecture on creativity. This is not a comedy skit. He is being serious, although in a pretty funny way.
In our business of Showmanship creativity is of utmost importance and pondering the fundamentals of the process is an important part of our toolkit. Cleese outlines some very practical things to improve your chances for creating good work. Not as much things to do as a setting and a particular mindset.

I found this lecture on the brilliant blog Open Culture and then found that Maria Popova over on her superbly curated site, Brain Pickings. Both of these sites are very worthy of following.

From Brain Pickings:
In this excerpt from his fantastic 1991 lecture, John Cleese offers a recipe for creativity, delivered with his signature blend of cultural insight and comedic genius. Specifically, Cleese outlines “the 5 factors that you can arrange to make your lives more creative”:
  1. Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)
  2. Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)
  3. Time (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.)
  4. Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)
  5. Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)
Now that you have a fair idea of what his main points are hear it from the man himself.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Regard of Flight

The Regard of Flight aired as part of PBS's GREAT PERFORMANCES series in 1983. It was a 45 minute comedy play with three performers: Bill Irwin, Michael O'Connor, and Doug Skinner. They performed The Regard of Flight on and off Broadway, throughout the United States and Australia. On this tour the show also included Bill Irwins solo piece, Clown Bagatelles. The show was also remounted and reworked into a full evenings show with the same cast in 2004. This production was called The Regard Evening.

Bill Irwin in flight.
Bill Irwin received his MacArthur Fellowship in November, 1984 for his work in theater. More specifically, he is a delightful zany, thinking man's clown who continues to produce work of original comic genius. Here he dances, floats, skips, and trips. His body is rubber, his wit is steel. Offering much more than pratfalls and tomfoolery, The Regard of Flight wittily critiques the "new theater." Irwin awakes in pajamas to an actor's nightmare. A heckling critic (Michael O'Connor) challenges and chases the pretentious theatrical artist. The stage manager (Doug Skinner, pianist and composer of the show's music) offers hilarious commentary on modernist theater. In one corner a sinister suction force repeatedly captures and draws Irwin feet-first off the stage. He may fight being sucked into the theater but he is, we are, and we love it. (Library Media)

Free Association segment

First Homesickness Song

 The Actor as Poet

Clown Bagatelles: the Waiter and the Swinger.

via Doug Skinner

Monday, 9 April 2012

Clown Apocalypse

"Put simply, physical comedy is the art of revealing what is vulnerable, imperfect, and laughable about man — not through argument, not through discourse, but through the body, through the picture that is worth a thousand laughs."

Looking deep into the history (actually the first post) of John Towsen's great blog We All Fall Down I found this this brilliant article which brings our attention to the inherent folly in human endevours. How we can't escape, we will never be in full control, for that, life is to grand and intricately complicated. We know that those that say they know what's going on are misinformed. He begins with Murphy's Law a perfect point of origin for the philosophy of Clown, and takes it to Illuminated heights.

Some of you might recognize the name of this author from his authoritarian history of Clowns: A Panoramic History of Fools and Jesters, Medieval Mimes, Jongeleurs and Minstrels, Pueblo Indian Delight Makers and Cheyenne Contraries, Harlequins and Pierrots, Theatrical Buffoons and Zanies, Circus Tramps, Whitefaces, and Augustes. A great, detailed history of the Craft of Elegant Chaos. For those that aren't familiar with either his book or blog. I recommend you peruse them at first opportunity.
As a kick start here is a superb article by Towsen which might just wet your appetite for his musings.
The following excerpts are from the article Zen and the Heart of Physical Comedy: The Revenge of Murphy's Law.   (The article in full below.)
“That the fruit of four and a half billion years can be undone in a careless moment is a fact against which belief rebels,”
Those of you who remember some of the details of what happened that faithful day in Ukraine when the Chernobyl power plant exploded you will appreciate the accuracy of the details in the following excerpt.

"This Russian two-reeler is full of laughs as our Fiercely determined technicians, Laurelovitch and Hardyofsky, end perfectly good reasons to turn off the emergency cooling system, remove all but a few control rods while leaving the reactor operating, and disengage all safety systems designed to implement automatic shutdown.
When Mrs. Hardyofsky — in this version played by a Soviet nuclear expert — returns home, she is shocked beyond belief to learn that the menfolk have deliberately disabled so many safety and warning systems, then run the reactor in a very unstable condition. But they did, and our little tragi-comedy ends with the prospect of millions of people, even the unborn (politely referred to as third- and fourth party victims), paying the price in sequels yet unfilmed."

"Whatever can go wrong will go wrong in a big way. Who could better tell this simple truth about ourselves than the clown? The clown revels in the mundane, celebrating the ever-recurring awkwardnesses inherent in our daily struggle to maintain equilibrium. The clown’s world of naivete is but a microcosm of our complex universe."
"By nature a physical comedian, the clown catalogs and insists on re staging man’s inevitable mishaps and miscalculations, and then really rubs it in by irreverently depicting the ego’s involvement in the struggle: not just the pride that goeth before destruction and the haughty spirit that precedes a fall that Solomon First warned us about, but also the terrible embarrassment that follows, and the noble attempts at cover-up.We trip on the sidewalk. In a revealing moment of truth, our eyes blink, our cheeks blush, our breath shortens, our muscles tense, our stomach churns. Furtive sideways glances check the scene for eyewitnesses. We attempt a quick return to normalcy. Denial, denial, denial.
But while we are taught to hide error and above all maintain our cool, the clown is humanity’s lie detector test and safety valve. The clown shows us that precise moment of cover-up, the instant when one’s self-assurance is stripped away. “It really isn’t the trip itself that’s funny,” explains Bill Irwin. “It’s the gestures and motions afterwards, the looking back at the spot, the trying to make an excuse for having tripped.”

Read the full Article here or right here:
Zen & the Heart of Physical Comedy

Friday, 6 April 2012

Grock - The King of Clowns

 Grock (January 10, 1880 – July 14, 1959), born Charles (Karl) Adrien Wettach, was a Swiss clown, composer and musician. Called "the king of clowns" and "the greatest of Europe's clowns", Grock was once the most highly paid entertainer in the world.

Grock described his secret of clowning as follows: "The genius of clowning is transforming the little, everyday annoyances, not only overcoming, but actually transforming them into something strange and terrific… it is the power to extract mirth for millions out of nothing and less than nothing."  (Wiki)

In 1903, Wettach took the stage name "Grock," under which he became one of the most famous clowns in Europe. "My birth name doesn't mean anything. I am Grock. The first is the name of the dark years," he said. As a clown, his life became a quest for perfecting the synthesis of the man, with his hidden human face, and the clown, the mask occluding the man beneath the greasepaint. This synthesis was "Grock," a figure intended to entertain while remaining forever mysterious, a beloved figure who never could be fully understood by the audience, hidden as he was by his mask, hidden as the man Karl was by the mask Grock. (imdb)

During the turbulent years of fascist Italy and World War II, Grock never let his mask slip, never overtly dabbled in politics. Though he attracted the admiration of leading Italian fascists, the King of Italy, European royalty and even Hitler, all of whom claimed to be a friend of his, he never publicly confirmed those bonds. The man behind the mask of Grock never declared any allegiance to anyone or anything but his art. (imdb)

The clip below is a full clown show, an evening with Grock. The film is a French production from 1931. It starts slow with quite a bit of French talking. If you don't understand French skip ahead it is worth sitting through.

At around 27 minutes he does a routine with a violin borrowed from one of the musicians in the orchestra pit. The superb physical comedy, pushing his legs and changing his postures with the violin bow, with its fantastic prat fall finale is gorgeous. 

"Wave upon wave of applause filled a circus tent in Hamburg last week as a preposterous, shambling clown, his baggy pants secured by a huge safety pin, his crudely gloved hands the essence of misplaced elegance, finished his turn. Friends and fans had come from as far away as Italy and England to see his act. They stood on their chairs, stomping and cheering. Long after the clown himself had shuffled off, wiping a tear from his dead-white face with a floppy sleeve, the cheers ran on, until at last a loudspeaker blared: "Please, ladies and gentlemen, do not applaud any longer. Grock is not coming back. Grock is never coming back."

The audience of 3,000 found it hard to believe that The Great Grock would ever give up the limelight and the sawdust, but the fact was that at 74, Europe's greatest clown was tired."

For a very thorough discussion on Grock and his gags check this link out.
Friends of Grock Foundation.

Villa Grock, where the tire clown retired.

the Grock d'Or.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The One Who Faces The Other Way

The faithful readers of this web publication will know that lately I have been taking an interest in who the showman is? Our role; what is it, and where did it come from? Not an unreasonable question for those of us who have made the showman's Craft our Vocation. Without a firm foundation even the acrobats fall down.
In this article I will take a deeper look at - The One Who Faces the Other Way - (Described in our manifesto.)

Picasso: Circus Family, 1905.
We are a social species, we need others to thrive, both for our well-being and our survival. Because this is so important, nature guides us towards it with rewards of good feelings. We feel good in others' company. Song and dance rouse our emotions, like nothing else, the production of opiates to bring about states of elation and euphoria.
Our biology guides us with pleasure. Sex feels real good because it is so important. Making the important things pleasurable and enjoyable so you will want to do it is nature's guide. It is where we learn whats important. Human rights are based on human need. The rewarding feelings we have when we share each other's company is your body telling you it's good for you, and therefor an important subject for attention.

An important part of what makes us human and what helped forge our social bonds is our ability to direct attention. Sharing attention by giving and taking mental focus is key to the social process. We crave getting and giving attention. It is as important as oxygen and nutrition for us. In this process we humans far surpass any other animal in our desire and ability to maintain focused attention for very long periods of time. By sharing attention we transmit meaning, tell story, laugh, and fall in love, all our most human aspects. 

When we share attention we face each other. We direct our gaze towards those we engage with.
Face to face. One sharing thoughts, ideas and emotions with the other. From each other's faces we can easily read and unconsciously interpret so much subtle information.
Harlequin’s Family With an Ape (1905)
Directing attention can be done in many ways, with hand gestures or simply with the eyes. The ability to use our eyes has been so important that evolution has shaped the way our eyes look to make them better suited to the task. The iris and pupil being dark against the white of our eyes makes it very easy to spot exactly what the person is looking at. This kind of adaption is to be expected since we are such a visually oriented species. Apes are also social but the fact that our eyes changed since we split off on our journey towards becoming a separate species, gives us a clue to the further importance sociability had for us.
We are the species with the most complex and advanced sociality. Other species like bees, ants, sheep, chimpanzees and praerie dogs all show different aspects of social behavior, but none are as varied and, most importantly, as adaptable as us. Some biologists calls us an "ultrasocial species".
Primatologist Michael Chance recognized that subordinates pay disproportionate attention to dominants, glancing at them far more than the dominants at the subordinates, and proposed that the social organization of attention has been a crucial factor in human evolution. He observed that hierarchy establishes itself rapidly among children, whose status can be ranked accurately according to the frequency with which they are looked at by three other children simultaneously.

A chimpanzee uncertain that it can gain rank through force or threat can often improve its status by other attention-getting devices - doing tricks and 'showing off.' Children do the same thing, often accompanied by cries of 'look at me.' But children also soon learn about others' emotional resistance to the undeserved usurpation of attention, and our consequent dislike of showoffs or bores.
From Brian Boyd's excellent book Origin of Stories.

Within the preceding paragraphs I believe we see the very process that drove the development of our Craft. People want attention, but people only willingly give it if you deserve to get it and keep it. Our ancestors would learn how to get attention but also needed to learn and develop how to be worthy of keeping it. They explored human nature and psychology as they investigated what was worthy of attention and how to present those things in the most interesting way.

From the word Showman we get all the information we need in regards to who he is and what his role and purpose is.
First I would like to propose that the term 'man' in Showman is to be understood as the 'man' in human. Not a gender specific ending. With this the term changes meaning from one man to Mankind. It describes a particular kind of person, not in terms of sex but of vocation.
The vocation or calling of the Showman is to show things to others in an interesting and joyful way. Like musicians shape and refine sounds, we have refined the process of 'sharing by showing'.
For me the best way to describe what our fundamental role is: "One Who Faces The Other Way."

A Showman is One Who Faces the Other Way.
One that has walked with the crowd
then turned around to face the others.
He cries for attention
and has something to Show
when he gets it.
(an Illuminated Showman's Manifesto)

One who get other's attention and knows how to make it worthwhile. One who has understood the power which lies in this and the importance of the Material being worth sharing.
A good Showman will pay attention to his Crowd's reaction and shape his presentation to suit them. Tuning and teasing a biological system of reward meant to guide us to what's important for our existence and well being.
One interpretation of the term would be: one which is pleasurable or interesting to watch. This seems simple but because of its primacy the feeling of shared attention is very fundamental and deeply rewarding. By getting and holding attention and skillfully directing it, the Showman engages and gives his Crowd a good time. This is a very meaningful and joyful social interaction. Something which strengthens the Showman's position in the group.

When one person faces the others to tell a thrilling tale of today's hunt, and tells it in a way that transports the Crowd right into in the midst of hooves kicking and blood running, a Crowd experiences great pleasure.

Our Tradition
We modern Showmen are the latest in a tradition of shapers of the special relationship that exists between people, ie sociability. This trait might well have been the fundamental characteristic setting us on our path to become human. The Shamen and story tellers of the cavemen and early hunter gatherer tribes all grasped and practiced the things we do. Their repertoire, routines and material were different, but the tool of showmanship, our illustrious Craft, was the same.
From tomb 15 in Beni Hassan, - 4000 years old.
Whenever someone belittles your Craft as 'just entertainment,' maybe as opposed to art, know that your vocation has a deeper and richer history than the written plays and theatrical productions of the rich and powerful. We Showmen were engaging, educating and healing Crowds tens of thousands of years before the invention of writing. The Art they speak of is a Johnny-come-lately to the unique powers of Those Who Faces The Other Way. Their Art is but a particular aspect of our Craft.
Whilst the rich and intelligent gathered in theaters and operas, our kind were on every street corner and wherever people gathered. We are from the people, for the people.
What we do, in circuses, pubs and cabarets, we do because people like it. Like how the sexual preference of the pea hen shaped and created the peacock's formidable and encumbering tail, Crowds have shaped the Showman's material. What we find in carnivals is the sum of what thrills, pleases, and fascinates humankind.

The Crowd and their attention is what gives purpose to the showman's vocation. He is a bringer of joy and insight to others. This is his responsibility, to leave the Crowd Illuminated through sheer joy, arousal or through intellect. The Showman enjoys getting the attention and because of his skill in holding and shaping it the Crowds loves giving it. It is a win win situation.