Last Updated on May 25, 2023 by Sammie

A Ridiculously Wonderful Experience at the Celebration Barn Theatre

Celebration Barn Theatre is a place for artists to come together to hone in on their theatrical craft and help one another celebrate play and creation. It’s awesome.

Celebration Barn Theatre

I heard about Celebration Barn after trying to track down Shannon Calcutt for an in-person clown workshop. If you don’t know me. That’s fine, I’m still figuring it out as well. But these days, I’m a circus artist who has been living around the world for the past 7 years. I had a short stint of clowning in a show in China and fell in love with it. After leaving a show as an acrobat in Dubai, I had lots of free time since I had no job lined up. HELLO, unemployment! I thought this would be an excellent time to hone in on my clowning. You know, laugh to keep from crying. This is when I discovered the Celebration Barn.

I had zero idea what this place was. All I understood was that there were clown workshops taking place in the middle of Maine, in a Barn. And that sounded like a good idea. 

I had zero idea what this place was. All I understood was that there were clown workshops taking place in the middle of Maine, in a Barn. And that sounded like a good idea. 

What is the Celebration Barn Theatre?

Let me get corny for a second. It’s a place to be inspired!

For starters, it truly is a barn. It’s located in Paris, Maine, not Paris, France. And it is an amazing brilliant fantastical place of creation and community. The Celebration Barn is a place for innovation for all types of theatre artists. Instructors come to give workshops in the studio while you stay in little cottages around the main barn.

Workshops can include but are not limited to; clown, mime, writing, physical acting, act building, and eccentric performance.

Celebration Barn

A Barn Full of Clowns

What could really go wrong with a barn full of clowns?

Turns out, lots. My goodness. Failure everywhere. But the best kind. The kind that is so apparent you can’t do anything but accept that failure has claimed you as its next victim and you will run off into the sunset holding hands together. Failure will always be there for you. Ready to open its arms to you while you try to kick it in the balls. Don’t be rude. Embrace it, don’t fight it. More on this later.

I spent two separate weeks at Celebration Barn and they are two weeks I will never forget. We practiced how to play. Turns out it’s a skill that needs to be worked. And we adults kinda suck at it. But in all honestly, I learned so much at Celebration Barn and met people I hope to stay in contact with for years to come. I have nothing but the highest praise for this place and hope that everyone gets the chance to come here at least once to play like a glorious fool.

You don’t need to be a clown to come to the Barn. You just have to be willing to play.

Celebration Barn Sign
Sammie Pearsall clown

My Celebration Barn Review

100% worth the money spent. The theatre community is special and wholesome and I was able to experience this by coming to workshops at the barn. I learned how to be authentic on stage. And I learned the need to fail in order to create. I was terrified to “flop” in front of people before coming to Celebration Barn. I left knowing how to celebrate being an idiot with my fellow idiot friends. The love of performing was breathed back into me. By the end of the week, there was a sense of inspiration and capability I hadn’t felt since I was a child, ready to take on the world.

Clown camp

Which workshops did I attend at the Celebration Barn Theatre?

For the list of Celebration Barn Workshops CLICK HERE

Aitor Basauri- Spymonkey’s Creating Clown Material

This workshop was the most brilliant surprise. If I’m being honest, I was so intrigued by the concept of Celebration Barn, I thought one workshop wasn’t enough and decided to take this one as well. It was the best decision of my summer. Spymonkey’s Creating Clown Material works you in a way to break you out of habit.

Aitor is a fascinating human. He reads people and picks up instantly if you are acting instead of playing. The difference, he taught us, is that when you play to the best of your ability you will always be real. “Clowns must have soul, or else they become characters.” The most important lesson I learned from this workshop was to embrace your flop (or failure) and listen to the audience. The audience is your guide on what to do next. Do they want more? Or do they want you to leave? Like now. Seriously, get off the stage.

Aitor Basauri Spymonkey Creating Clown Material

Shannon Calcutt- Celebrate Your Ridiculousness

This was the workshop I had been looking forward to and was thrilled to take part in. As a woman, for a while, I found it more difficult to find female clown instructors than male clown instructors. Then in walks Shannon. With her beer-filled bra and kind words. Shannon has a very unique pedagogy. It’s honest and can be a bit scary but also freeing.

This workshop is about finding your most authentic self and playing there as long as you can. This authentic self is no place for shame, thinking, questioning, or judging. It is yours only and it deserves to be how it is. Your clown is who she/he/it needs to be and in this workshop, you learn how to find it. The week helped me see who my clown is and not to judge it if it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I’m learning, as I believe many of her students are, that this clown will be constantly evolving as it fully emerges.

Shannan Calcutt Celebrate Your Ridiculousness

What did I learn from my time at the Celebration Barn?

Oh, dear. There are lots. Maybe over 100 things. Maybe over 105…but I don’t want you to think I’m being paid for this article SO I’ll spare you your precious time. Let’s make it snappy. Here are the top three things I learned at the barn:

  1. To play as a kid is a gift as much as it is a skill.
  2. Failure should be celebrated and faced head-on.
  3. There is inspiration anywhere you can see, smell, feel, hear, touch, and taste.
Celebration barn theatre in Paris, ME

What is so special about the Barn?

Magic happens when you feel safe and supported. The sense of community I felt at Celebration Barn continues to amaze me months after leaving. Lots of places claim to put innovation, inclusion, and creativity at their core but Celebration Barn lives these values.

Everyone who shows up to take a workshop at the Barn, from the instructor to the students, understands the goal of the week. Support and explore. It can be a scary thing, being on a stage. To have ideas. To try something that hasn’t been seen before. It’s where performers can feel most vulnerable. I was shocked by how safe I felt to dive out of my comfort zone, ready to accept failure or a flop, head on knowing this is how we will learn.

clown makeup

Why We Celebrate Failure or as we call it, “flopping”

Failure is inevitable. No seriously. We are so silly to be afraid of it. It’s akin to being afraid of breathing because we know we need it to survive therefore making it terrifying. Let’s not be chuckleheads. Being human is to fail and learn. In the context of theatre, it can be very difficult and scary to expose ourselves on stage, to be authentic. Failing is our way through this. Persevere, everyone! Like practice, failure gets easier the more you do it 😀.

When we fail we expose our truth. Whether this truth comes out in the physical movement of the body or face, or perhaps the absurd sound you make when faced with defeat, you can be sure you react in some way. Our instinct is to hide this truth. It’s human nature. It’s evolutionary to want to hide our faults from our peers. If you want to be authentic. FIGHT THE URGE TO HIDE. Let your despair shine like the shooting star you are. This is how we connect!

Clown Workshop in Paris, ME

Flopping is a universal language. We all fail either alone or in front of others and we are all convinced it only happens to us. What the H-E-double hockey sticks people! We are not alone in screwing up! It is the exact opposite! It’s the one thing we all have in common.

How does Failure relate to Clowning?

The greatest feeling of all is connecting with others through this embarrassment. Clowning is not complicated. It’s playing to your greatest ability. What it is NOT is to be good. People will connect to the clown because the clown shows us how ridiculous we are for believing we will never fail. The clown believes it will always succeed; when it doesn’t, you will see its authenticity. That is what we want to see. Another idiot human being an idiot to hopefully connect with other idiots to maybe make the idiots feel slightly less like an idiot by showing our idiot nature. Get it? I hope so because I’m lost.

cute clown makeup

For more information on the Celebration Barn CLICK HERE

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