My name is Clint Bolster - a character actor, theatrical clown, commedia dell’arte specialist, stilt performer & trainer and teaching artist from Australia.
I passionately believe that laughter should be central to a young person’s education. Comedy particularly, has a vital place in the lives of young people in the 21st Century. In an age when people are increasingly interacting and indeed living via and inside of technology, it is the subject and practice of comedy that offers what otherwise can so easily be lost from our lives. The opportunity to play, express, be physical, relate and discover in real time and space is vital. My approach is underpinned by the assumption that everyone has something unique to offer; that laughter is a universal language and a powerful engager that has the capacity to inspire students and audiences who might otherwise hold back. Laughter conceals, gives permission to play, allows expression, liberates and reveals. Laughter teaches us that nothing and none of us can truly be taken too seriously and that being able to laugh, to see the funny side, is in itself, a vital life skill.
A year ago, I found myself listening to my own advice. Although my work, perceived by others was always 5 stars – as an artist, I felt, I wasn’t being creatively challenged. My inner critic was flagging a red light. The passion for what I was delivering, although on the outside was seen as life affirming by others, (which is fabulous), it wasn’t having the same impact for myself – my passion was wavering...and that angered me. So… I sat down and asked myself… What do you want? Answer: I want to be happy. How can I be happy? I need to be challenged….I need to be directed….I need an intervention. So……I did my research, worldwide, for a Mask Theatre Company who had a similar pedagogy to my own. From the moment I saw the imagery of Vamos – how to describe…it felt like that moment when you are just about to roll down the steepest point on a roller coaster, and your stomach feels like butterflies – but in a great way! Strange I know – however honest. Long story short, I called Vamos, we fell in love. After several grant applications, a mortgage extension and a year later, I arrived on their door step and was welcomed with open and loving arms. A surreal moment having travelled 16599km to the other side of the world.
This residency has given me an honest perspective of my arts practice. I have been Supported. Replenished. Rejuvenated. Inspired. Challenged. Reinforced. Empowered. Welcomed into a Family. In this time I have: Learned the fundamental techniques of Full Face Non Verbal Mask Theatre. Created a 10 Min Solo Mask Theatre Performance. Shadowed Workshops – Youth Theatre, Primary School, High School, University, Community Groups, People who identify as having a disability. Observed the rehearsal process of The Best Thing. Board Meetings. Strategic Planning Meetings. Team Meetings. Marketing Meetings. Logistical Meetings. Creative development for mask theatre walkabout acts. Research & Development. The whole gamut – of which I am truly thankful.
However, the biggest learning I will take away: MASK THEATRE IS ALL INCLUSIVE – IT DOESN”T DISCRIMINATE. Equality and Inclusion in every aspect. Conducting a Mask Theatre Masterclass with Rachael Savage at Star College was the highlight for me. The opportunity to work with students who had a wide range of learning and physical disabilities was life affirming. The moment they put on the mask, having trusted their facilitators with their heart, body and soul, the were transformed…I watched in awe as all their insecurities and fears melted away in an instant. The absolutely endearing aspect of these wonderful human beings is that they are incapable of lying – and that is something to be admired, celebrated and cherished. Complete vulnerability within a safe and loving environment where they are supported to succeed.
Because of this moment… my heart skipped a beat and I was reminded why it is I do what I do --- to share inexhaustible hope, joy and laughter with my students and audiences – because after all, that is the least anyone deserves.
Clint Bolster runs Humunculus Theatre Company in Queesnland Australia: he has financial assistance from the Queensland Government through the Arts Queensland Individual Professional Development Grant Initiative.