I had my audition on Monday morning, in La Timone children’s hospital, Marseille. For those of you not tuned in to my every breath and burp, here’s what I’m on about (Hopi-clowns), and for those who are, IT WENT WELL. It went really well. I arrived well on time via the Marseille metro, losing about a kilo at every stop from sheer nervousness, or should I say shit-scared stagefright. Not that there was to be any sort of stage in sight; I was to be clowning in the hospital corridors, bedrooms, entrance hall, lifts, everywhere and anywhere, but not on a stage. As I drank coffee with Caroline Simonds (the lovely Big Boss) and her soft-hearted assistant J-L in the hospital café, I could feel myself breaking into a cold sweat as the minutes ticked by and the moment to get up and get auditioning approached. One huge comfort was that I knew the two clowns accompanying me, Alfredo and Molette, although Alfredo walked in and said “Wow! You’re all skinny now! With short hair! I hardly recognise you!” Molette reminded him that the last time we met it had been during a crazed pasta cabaret when we were playing an Italian family, getting the entire audience (100 people) to make tagliatelle with 5 pasta machines, and I was 8 months pregnant, running about in fishnet tights, heeled boots and a pink dress that made me look like a blancmange. I even did the splits, repeatedly, which may be why Léonie was born 2 weeks early. Once Alfredo had been acquainted with the after-effects of giving birth (losing the huge belly, hair falling out forcing you to hack it all off) I realised he was talking to my tits when he adressed me, which wasn’t surprising, as it had been over 18 hours since I had fed Léonie. I had driven down to Marseille and slept over at a friend’s house, thinking “oh, Léonie is 15 months old now, she’s feeding less, my breasts will be fine without her for a day.” Alas, I was wrong. I had woken up that morning with huge tits, firm and full of milk. If only they could look like that all the time. But I am side-tracking … back to the hospital cafeteria and me with the physical problem of very possibly squirting a doctor in the eye with milk or at least having a “special effect” costume which ends up soaking wet from the waist up. As I got changed in the little Rire Médecin dressing room I discovered I couldn’t even do my dress up. I was going to have to put this problem to the back of my mind and concentrate on being a crazy little clown, rather than a lactating Mummy.
While we were changing and putting our make-up on we messed about and the boys told me to keep things simple, to take their lead in the beginning, and bit by bit they would let me take more initiative and start up games and songs. “Ready?” “Erm … yes … I mean no, I mean yes, okay, let’s go.” We opened the door to the dressing room and tumbled out into the corridor, and that was it, we were off, non-stop for two hours of clowning in the children’s oncology ward (cancer ward), the day hospital and all the lifts and corridors linking the two. It went by in a flash. We began by singing La Llega Crescera in harmony with Alfredo on the ukelele, which was great because it filled me with confidence and got us messing about until we knew who was the boss (Molette) and who were the total idiots. I can’t remember what order things happened in but I do know we went from playing musical red-nose puppets in a doorway for a one year old with Down’s Syndrome to me blasting out an improvised rap in French for a teenaged lad with a broken arm. We tried to steal a little girl’s crisps, we rocked out with a four year old who had his own little guitar, we managed to persuade a moody 17 year old cancer patient to let us in his room and mess about until he got his phone out and started filming us, Alfredo tried to start a fight with a bloke eight times his size, Molette kept us singing and dancing and moving on to the next room (and washing our hands every five minutes), a little girl ran up to me to tell me I looked like Little Red Riding Hood which was BRILLIANT because I had a Red Riding Hood puppet in my basket which changed into granny and the wolf, we blew bubbles and sang ‘Pirouette Cacahuète’ for another little baby, leaving his mummy wearing a foam red nose, we sang “When the Saints come Marching in” in 12 different languages, we bounced up and down past the rooms with high windows … we kept going, full of energy, and all of a sudden we were back at the Rire Médecin dressing room door and it was all over. We piled in, along with Caroline and J-L, thirsty and laughing. I felt very happy.
As we got changed back into our everyday clothes they gave me a ton of feedback. Apparently it had gone really well for me and they were very pleased with what I had done. But there were 7 more people to audition over the next four days, and they were all great candidates for the job. Today is Thursday – the last of the hopefuls finished their audition this afternoon. Tomorrow all the clowns who accompanied we “learners” will sit down around a table with Caroline and J-L and choose two of us to join the company. Apparently there was another girl the day after me who was also great and another bloke auditioning today who has already done a year of Rire Médecin school … so I’m feeling less sure of myself now. I wake up in the middle of the night sweating from dreams where I am chosen/not chosen/fly out of the window wearing nothing but a red nose. I think about the outcome every 4 seconds (that’s more then a teenaged boy thinks about sex). I CANNOT WAIT to find out but I am going to have to wait … until tomorrow evening.
Oh readers, please pray to the Clown Gods for me and cross your fingers and everything crossable (toes, legs, eyes, bra straps) that they choose me. I so want to do this job, I know I would be really good at it, I would be so motivated and so happy to join the crazy band of generous hopi-clowns that makes up Le Rire Médecin. KEEP IT ALL CROSSED. GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND OFFER UP OFFERINGS – chocolate, beetles, goats – whatever makes those gods feel like consenting to my wishes. At least until tomorrow, when I will let you know if your efforts have reaped ripe rosy-nosed fruits.
This is a photo of me, as Teapot, in our shower. It’s the only place in our home where you can take flattering photos. Pardon. Did I say flattering?
(As for the milk-laden booby bother, I found an unexpected solution whilst visiting friends at lunchtime. To be continued …)