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A bit of Buffoonary

This activity is about helping the children create their own Buffoon character physically before drawing or writing about it. Buffoons speak their own language which is almost entirely gestures and grunts and they have a lot in common with clowns. They don’t wear special make up but do tend to have exaggerated features and are not too clever! This is a physical activity that requires a large space and some atmospheric music. Ask the children to walk around the space. When you say stop the children must stop and when you say go they move. Continue till they get the hang of this.

Now ask the children to pick a point in the room to walk to, walk to that point and stop. The children must get to their destination without walking into anyone else. The pace at which they walk can vary each time. Pick a different point and repeat. Continue for a few minutes.

This time ask the children to do the same but choose to lead with a particular body part, for example; they can choose to lead with their nose, or their forehead, their chest or their bottom. You could model this across the space and then ask them to walk around to music as if led by this body part. Once the children get the hang of this ask them to add a sound to their movement. They could meet and have imaginary conversations with each other just using gestures and sounds.


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In Mosaic the magic box is discovered by two buffoons by the names of Strifnos and Mamtor. It is under the magic influence of this box that they bring to life the stories of the Prince and Princess, becoming increasingly confident, multi-lingual and connected to each other, the children and ultimately the world in the playing out of these stories.

Buffoons were created in the mid-70s by respected theatre practitioner Jacque Lecoq drawing on the traditions of medieval carnival. They are grotesque characters – a mix of tragedy and clown – that question and mock society’s unquestioned truths, and challenge the myths of their times. “Buffoons are people who believe in nothing and make fun of everything, they are mysterious, grotesque and fantastic (Lecoq)”. They are misfits and rule breakers who are kept at a distance, they have seen the worst that society can throw at them, and have survived.

The use of buffoons was originally explored in Mosaic to avoid establishing English as a dominant means of communication (buffoons have a language of their very own).  The intention behind this was to allow the other languages used in the programme to take on an equal status, both in performance and in terms of a multi-lingual response from children.  Later in devising the buffoons’ position as outsiders, their lack of linguistic resources, their playfulness and sense of mischief provided rich opportunities for children to participate, teach, support and play alongside them.


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