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Meet David Bridel of The Clown School in NELA

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Bridel.

David, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Years ago, I studied with one of the world’s great clown teachers, Philippe Gaulier. He ignited in me a love of clowns, an art form that stretches back to prehistory and has so many different branches including the circus, the theatre, pantomime, silent film comedy, sitcoms, vaudeville, and other contemporary forms.

From that point on I have practiced clowning as a director, performer, and – most often – a teacher. I opened The Clown School in Los Angeles in 2009 with my colleague Orlando Pabotoy. Orlando departed for New York a couple of years later, and soon I was joined by other mad artists, especially Zach Steel, in the development of the School.

Over time we have grown, and now we offer three levels of clown training plus a whole range of specialty classes taught by myself and guest artists from local, national, and international clown and theatre centres.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We have always relied on word of mouth as our most effective method of reaching people and letting them know who we are and what we do. (While I would never claim that clowning is for everyone, I can affirm that the vast majority of students who take our classes are enriched by their experience. For some, it changes lives.)

So there have been times, and there still are, when we wonder whether our message of humor, vulnerability, creativity, and awakening is really reaching the broadest possible audience. But I continue to believe that good work will attract success at its own pace.

Please tell us about The Clown School.
We teach clown. We also teach various offshoots of clown, including clown and music, sacred clown, mask, jester, commedia dell’arte, and movement. Everything that we do can be captured, broadly speaking, under the umbrella title “physical theatre,” but that term – like so many! – is limited in its ability to really capture the essence of our project. In truth, we teach, through the medium of clown and its cousins, creativity and chaos, courage and paradox, collaboration and openness.

We’re known for the celebratory experience that transpires in the classroom when open-hearted people come together to play. We’re proud of the impact we’ve had on so many lives. Some of this impact has been formally recognized – we helped to launch the career of LA’s award-winning theatre troupe Four Clowns, for example – and some is more intimately known simply in the hearts of those who have studied with us. We’re proud not because we are perfect, but because we are optimists.

What sets us apart is our care, attention, and skill in this particular and elusive field.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Hard to think back to my childhood and pick one favorite memory, but I can say that I was a fairly private child. Not a recluse, no, but I learned to take care of myself through my imagination and my willingness and ability to make up games to pass the time.

One particular memory that comes to mind – on a week-long break from boarding school, when I was thirteen years old, I spent every waking moment laboriously playing table soccer in order to recreate all the games from the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. I don’t remember who won.


  • Clown School classes are typically $399

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rick Davitt

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