We all live in circus

By SANZA BULAYA, translation by Claire Chuang


The origins of <circus> have some common grounds in Europe. Whatever we talk about “La Commedia dell’arte” or about “Philip Astley’s project “, <circus> is an attempt to entertain an audience with some tricks that make “Comedy” a real Art…

馬戲團的起源在歐洲有一些共同的觀點。 無論我們談論“La Commedia dell’arte(義大利即興喜劇)”或關於“Philip Astley’s project(現代馬戲團創始組的計畫)”,馬戲團藉由一些特技嘗試娛樂觀眾,使得“喜劇”成為一門真的藝術


SAND Maurice. Masques et bouffons (Comedie Italienne). Paris, Michel Levy Freres, 1860


On one hand, La Commedia dell’arte先說,義大利即興喜劇

 Commedia dell’arte is a theatrical form characterized by improvised dialogue and a cast of colorful stock characters that emerged in northern Italy in the fifteenth century and rapidly gained popularity throughout Europe. In its golden age, plays of the commedia dell’arte (literally, “comedy of professional artists”) were usually performed in open-air by itinerant troupes of players. Performances were based on a set schema, or scenario—a basic plot, often a familiar story, upon which the actors improvised their dialogue. Thus actors were at liberty to tailor a performance to their audience, allowing for sly commentary on current politics and bawdy humor that would otherwise be censored. Occasionally, stock characters acted out stories from mythology and ancient Greek and Roman comedies as well. Beyond the most basic plot elements, the only scripted components of the performance were lazzi—rehearsed interludes of comic stage business, music, acrobatics, or fighting—often unrelated to the development of the scenario. The lazzi allowed actors, usually those playing the zanni – the servants – to show off a particular skill; some actors became so famous for these routines that audiences expected “trademark” lazzi of a particular actor or troupe at each performance.” 

Commedia dell’arte是一個戲劇形式,其特點是即興對話和五顏六色的角色的鑄造出現在意大利北部15世紀,並迅速在整個歐洲普及。在黃金時代,義大利即興喜劇的表演(從字面上,“專業藝術家的喜劇”)通常是由演員在露天的巡迴演出。表演基於一套模式,或劇本一個基本的情節,通常是一個熟悉的故事,演員們即興演出他們的對話。因此,演員可以自由地為他們的觀眾訂製演出,可以是對當下政治的狡詐評論和可被審查的猥褻幽默。偶爾,演員也演出了從神話和古希臘和羅馬喜劇的故事。除了最基本的情節元素之外,表演的唯一腳本組件是商業的幕間幽默短劇,音樂,雜技表演或戰鬥的戲謔排練,通常與劇本的發展無關。戲謔允許演員,通常是那些表演zanni – 僕人炫耀一個特定的技能;一些演員在觀眾期望下的“商標性”戲謔的特定演員或劇團在每次演出變得有名.


On the other hand, the “Father” Philip Astley… 另一說,現在馬戲團的始祖”Philip Astley”

“Philip Astley is credited with being the ‘father’ of the modern circus when he opened the first circus in 1768 in England.” Actually the modern circus is affiliated to the Greek & Roman tradition of mime: the unique Art of pantomime. It also refers to the medieval live performances of minstrels, acrobats, ropedancers that were exhibiting their skills on the plaza of the city… Back to that era in England, a circus was an open-air performance with artists showcasing unseen techniques. Philip Astley’s idea was to deliver a unique experience to viewers by combining music, domesticated animals, acrobats and clowns on stage.

Philip Astley(菲利普·阿斯特利)被認為是現代馬戲的”始祖,1768年在英國創始第一個馬戲。”實際上,現代馬戲團隸屬於希臘和羅馬傳統啞劇:啞劇的獨特藝術。 它還涉及的是中世紀現場表演的吟遊詩人,雜技演員,走鋼絲繩索特技表演者,在城市的廣場展示他們的技能…回到那個時代英國,馬戲團是一個露天表演與藝術家展示未見的技術。 Philip Astley(菲利普·阿斯特利)的想法是藉由結合音樂,馴養動物,雜技演員和小丑在舞台上呈現給觀眾獨特的體驗。




Beyond making “Comedy” a real Art, the circus has also a unique characteristic, which is the engagement to the audience. Indeed, in terms of live performance, circus has proposed something unclassified in the conventional categories of Art performance; I mean in a circus it implies the participation of clowns, which bring a new form of entertainment.

除了使“喜劇”成為一個真正的藝術,馬戲團還有一個獨特的特徵,觀眾的約定。事實上,在現場表演方面,馬戲團呈現了在藝術表演的常規類別中未分類的東西; 我的意思是在馬戲團,這意味著小丑的參與,帶來了一種新的樂形式。

Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin [1889-1977] and Marcel Marceau [1923-2007] also know as “Bip the Clown”, are to me some of the most iconic clowns. Both of them were masters in captivating attention by using “Comedy” as a real Art to occasionally portray attitudes, people, society, politics, art… Their talents were recognized beyond the entertainment scene to hit and influence our perception of creation and humor.

Charles Spencer(查爾斯·斯賓塞)先生“查理”卓別林[1889-1977]Marcel Marceau(馬塞爾·馬索)[1923-2007]也被稱為“畢普先生”,對我而言,是一些最具代表性的小丑。 他們都是藉由“喜劇”作為一個真正的藝術去偶爾描繪態度,人,社會,政治,藝術他們的才能在娛樂場景之外被認可且影響我們對於創作和幽默的看法。

“The art of silence speaks to the soul, like music, making comedy and tragedy, involving you and your life… Creating character and space, by making a whole show on stage – showing our lives, our dreams, our expectations.” Marcel Marceau

“沉默的藝術對話於靈魂,像音樂,喜劇和悲劇,涉入於你和你的生活…… 為了要創造出個人的性格和空間, 透過在舞台上表演,我們演出了生活,夢想,我們的期望。Marcel Marceau (馬塞爾·馬索)

When you look at the role of the clown in a circus it is actually very contradictory. At the same time, circus is the place one expects to laugh and to be entertained by professionals named clowns, but it happens sometimes that circus and clowns become satirical. Eventually, they laugh at the audience. What is humor? What is mockery then?

當你看到小丑在馬戲團的作用,其實是非常矛盾的。 同時,馬戲團是一個給予歡笑和藉由專業命名小丑去娛樂大眾的地方,但有時,馬戲團和小丑變成諷刺。 最後,他們嘲笑觀眾。 什麼是幽默? 什麼是嘲笑?

In the modern circus, we laugh at an awkward clown doing stupid things to show our judgment on unconventional situations… Clowns wear bizarre outfits, wear colorful make-up, and mimic clumsy behaviors, in which, we cruelly see an opportunity to finger point everything that seems ridiculous under society conventions. I like to compare a circus as a gladiators’ arena in the Antiquity. In other words, modern gladiators or clowns have to kill or to be killed under the command of the crowd. If you don’t succeed to make laugh, you will be killed by critics and by the immediate audience judgment. If you own the crowd, then you will get glory and fame… At the end of the day, this is still the same concept, the exploitation of Art talents to feed the mass. The interesting thing to highlight here is the instrumental role played by the clown in the circus. Indeed, the clown has a different power than the condemned gladiator: he can victimized the crowd, he can victimized the visible or invisible power which sets the stage for the performance. How? The clown is 100% aware of his condition as a fool. He can play with it in order to affect people, to shape emotions and expectations at his own advantage. In fact, a clown is just a media. A media that can communicate, translate messages, interact etc.… At some point, a clown is a foolish intellectual live performer, who is also a dangerous enabler to awaken society satire. When what the clown portrays is no more stupid skits, but just state of mind of society at a point in time – “the zeitgeist” – this is actually the sad beauty of Art for those we can see it.



We all live in circus… 我們都活在馬戲團裡


“La Commedia dell’arte” is the perfect example of what is covered in this unique “comedy of professional artists”. Behind the plot there is somehow an unreleased message or hidden critics delivered by some clowns. The question is: how to figure out what are the intentions of the clowns toward the audience… The only sure thing is you need three keys elements to make a circus: an audience, a clown and a stage. When you put those elements all together, everything is possible. Charlie Chaplin was so talented that he brought the circus features to Cinema, making himself one of the most influential artists in the twentieth century by being a clown. How did he manage to achieve that?

義大利即興喜劇La Commedia dell’arte”個可以涵蓋這個獨特的“職業藝術家喜劇”的完美例子。 在劇情背後有一些未公開的消息或一些隱藏的評論藉由小丑來傳遞 問題是找出小丑對觀眾想要表達的意圖唯一確認的是你需要三個關鍵元素來製作一個馬戲團:觀眾,小丑和舞台。 當你把這些元素放在一起,一切都是可能的。 ·卓別林是如此有才華,他把馬戲團的特點帶到電影院,使自己成為一個在20世紀最有影響力的藝術家,作為一個小丑。 他是如何設法實現的?

In the modern society, we all live in a circus because our way of living is like a troupe that goes from place to place to deliver a performance. We are always on the road like those minstrels, acrobats, ropedancers and clowns. We transition from countryside to cities, displaced people and refugees have never been so numerous… Transitioning is a way of life. Stability versus instability, peace seekers, job seekers, love seekers, happiness seekers, everybody has a good reason to move around. It resulted in a lifestyle concept known as nomadism. Originally, nomadism was survival and it is still the case for peace seekers or job seekers: to move out from infertile regions to look for better opportunities to exploit better resources. A circus functions the same way. The itinerant troupe, the domesticated animals, the technicians, the whole show is moving from place to place to look for a better stage to maximize the show. On the past years, the term “global nomad” has become more and more popular to describe people traveling without permanent home or job. This also the strong trend behind Uber, Airbnb fast growing businesses and business models. It seems that freedom means less commitment and capacity to manoeuver easily with the minimum constraints. Some are happy with that, some don’t…



DAUMIER Crispin & Scapin

We all live in a circus because we said above that a clown is a media. For those of you who have a television, everyday you are fed with TV series, TV reality shows, TV programs that are the equivalent feed of the live performance that clowns used to deliver in person. The TV set, and nowadays the smart phone, have become the new stage to set the show. Real life is game and clearly the audience can make a decision on everything that is related to the intrigue in the show: “American Idol”, “America’s next top model”, “Hell’s kitchen”, just to name a few… Like in the Antiquity gladiators’ arena, we are asked to victimize people or to cover them with ephemeral glory. “Fame”, “media”, it is an easy critics against the current and dominant trends in our global modern digital world. Truth is, the sad part of it is when we end it up being not only the audience, but also the clown… We mimic ridiculously other people behaviors, we wear strange outfit, and we wear weird make-up for no reason but to entertain others. Fashion is a circus. Politics is circus. Sport is a circus. Business is a circus. Art is a circus. We all live in a circus. Politicians are sad clowns, artists are smart clowns, athletes are enslaved clowns, kids are would-be clowns, and adults are disappointed clowns…


My only piece of advice: if all of us are fully aware of our foolish state of mind as a clown, there is a chance that we turn the show into a satirical and sarcastic fun skit. If not, let’s keep believe that nothing is serious. Why so serious?

我唯一的忠告:如果我們所有人都充分意識到我們作為一個小丑的愚蠢心態,有機會,我們把這個節目變成一個愛挖苦人的和諷刺好玩的小喜劇 如果沒有,讓我們繼續相信沒有什麼是嚴重的。 何必那麼認真?