The clothes you wear, your hair-style, the types of music you like, and the ways you choose to express yourself all tell a story about who you are to the rest of the world. Even your body shape/size/color was inherited through a long lineage of people from different parts of the world. Your ancestors diet, belief systems, and environment helped to shape the way you look and perceive the world today. Each of us embody many stories whether we are aware of what these stories are or not.
Human beings are different from most animals because of a part in our brain called the frontal cortex. This part of the brain allows us to consciously observe, mimic, and choose the environmental influences that shape who we are and who we will become. Our love of theatrical expression is not confined to the theatre, it is built into our genetics. Emotions and social interactions are our teacher. We experiment with our environment by manipulating external landscapes or indoor furniture like stage-sets. Learn the stories that make you who you are, and create new stories of who you want to be. “Living Folklore” is a good term for this concept because each of us have untold abilities to make stories come alive.
In the world of costumes, these ideas become embellished even more. Two of my favorite clowns borrow costume ideas from ancient and modern traditions of ceremonial expression. The video below shows how Giggly Sprout and Gumbo Wobbly are sewn together with stories, using beads, sequins, and colorful fabrics.
You don’t have to be a “theatre person” to enjoy playing with characters. Within each of us there are many characters. Different social situations bring out different aspects of who we are and theatre is just a way to experiment with this concept.
Whether you have considered it or not, you are telling a story with every thread on your body. Who made your shirt? Where were the materials harvested? How was it dyed? What culture created the look and the pattern? Of course sometimes we just want to blend in and not think about it all.
Other times we want to feel the full power of knowing that life, itself is a story and we are the characters…
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