Lucas Bailey's report on The Flying Seagull Project
MA in professional Acting Graduate of 2017 Lucas Bailey wrote and performed a clowning piece as his Personal Research Project which led him to develop a passion for the craft. He decided to immerse himself in the art of clowning and we are delighted to publish his report about his recent work.
"About 2 years ago I saw a BBC 3 documentary ‘Amazing Humans’ that focused on The Flying Seagull Project where they followed a group of clowns, circus performers and playmakers that go to different refugees' camps to engage with the children and give them happiness. After watching this I instantly thought, how do I be part of this, so I signed up to their mailing list and 2 years later I got an email/casting call looking for people to join them.
I applied and 2 weeks later I trained with 11 others in hope of going out on a project with them. The training was intense and used a completely different form of language that I had never used within a leadership setting. This was due to the fact that the children we would be interacting with would not use English as their first language, so sounds and physical actions were far more important.
After the training, I was lucky enough to be asked to go on a project for 2 weeks at the end of the ‘Miles for Smiles’ project where the team had covered 5000 miles and made 3000 children smile. My instruction was to get to Athens airport on the 16th April and the rest will make sense once I got there.
This approach carried on during the 2 weeks and there was a reason behind this. Some of the camps that we visited had high levels of security which made planning for sessions tricky as sometimes we would arrive and we were not allowed entry or there may be only 4 children or 200 children we just had to keep adapting to the situation in hand.
Every session we did we were in character which meant no eating, drinking and going to the toilet while working with the children and sometimes we would be out on the field for 4 hours. Initially, I found this pretty tough but I found myself building up a good performance stamina. The shows and workshops involved magic, clowning, circus and a lot of slapstick comedy, for instance, I had my teeth cleaned with a toilet brush and fell over a heavy box countless times, I always just seemed to be the one that got things wrong (character).
Performing at an orphanage to 150 young women who had either been used for sex trafficking or had been given back by previous foster parents was incredible as before the show I was pre-warned that being a man performing in this environment to be careful and appreciate their past, the beginning of the show I underplayed what I usually would do and when the audience became more engaged I increased the energy and cheekiness and at the end of the show we had a standing ovation and an encore.
During my time at ALRA, I found myself struggling to work out what kind of performer I was and it wasn’t till the end of my training where my strengths were made clear and I have now taken this knowledge into my performing life post-ALRA. If I was to give any advice it would be that if there are struggles or times where you think you don’t know what you are doing hang on to things that you know and love as they are the ones that are going to get you work/opportunities post training. I have in fact got my 2nd professional juggling job coming up."
We are so pleased to have been a part of Lucas' professional journey and look forward to finding out where it takes him next.
If anyone would like to find out more about how to get involved with the Flying Seagulls or clowning or just generally have a chat then get in touch with ALRA and the team can forward on a message.