Cliff Jumping For Beginners.

I’ve been enjoying the company of some familiar internal characters recently.

I’d like you to meet, my Daydreamer.

Her attention span resembles that of a Labrador chasing squirrels in the park. Whenever I have something important to do, i.e, write my Second-And-Very-Best-Blog-Post-About-Fooling, my Daydreamer rolls about on my keyboard like a cat.

With Circus City glittering all over Bristol, Holly Stoppit’s company: Beyond The Ridiculous were sure to be in sight. They played their Fooling show: Cliff Jumping For Beginners this weekend at The Wardrobe Theatre. I was invited as Official Blogger Of The Event, which my Internal Eager Academic took ever so seriously.

The show was brilliant. How frustrating… You see, if it had been rubbish, my Inner Critic could have just written a scathing review and felt wonderfully wretched. Huzzah for the easy option! Alas. Right at the front, grinning ear-to-ear, sat my Gushing Fan: arch enemy of Inner Critic.

Fooling is improvised, so nobody knows what will happen next, until it does. The audience is plunged into the deep end of the player/s’ world: a kaleidoscopic, one-man-band of human experience.

Music can help bring another dimension to the fool’s characters. Holly and Simon Panrucker’s ad hoc sound accompaniment-ranging from country western to cheek-squelching- fluidly supported the fools’ process. Think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

The theme of the show was Risk: the gravity that keeps fool and audience dancing in orbit, allowing a unique chemistry to flicker between them.

And so, armed with nothing but their instincts, vulnerability and honesty, four brave fools faced the full house.

Fool #1: Katie Storer bravely unleashed her Squibbling Pest into the audience…and it drew on a man’s face with lipstick. Northern Landlord Derekk called an Alabaman Exterminator, who danced and cried with her Lonely Bartender. Together they learned the secret magic of mushy peas and pie buns.

Fool #2: Ed Rapley conquered his fear of admin, engaging in an existential metamorphosis from Empty Walnut to Time-Travelling Artist Who Actually Sends Emails. Upon transformation, his Restless Philosopher exclaimed, to the audience’s stomping delight, that:

“Calendars aren’t death, they’re time machines!”

Fool #3: Steph Kempson’s Brutal Editor warned us all to “BE. MORE. INTERESTING”. Violent scissor-stabs befell any character held suspect of being a “metaphorical cul-de-sac“. Brian the Boring Poet was put to death at the audience’s request- a deliciously gory sacrifice in the name of “Good Theatre”.

Fool #4: Holly Stoppit’s Inner Critic did not like seeing her vulnerable after years of keeping her firmly offstage. She was having a go at Holly’s nose-picking, when Patricia, Holly’s Academic, threatened to write a book. That knocked Critic off her perch. Go for it, Patricia.

The fools took the risk to be seen, and generously poured their hearts and souls onto the stage for us to splash in. They were received with raucous, beaming applause.

Cliff Jumping For Beginners demonstrated the positive power of just doing the things we wish we could, using the timeless argument: what’s the worst that could happen?

I look forward to Beyond The Ridiculous’ plan to expand their mental-health awareness outreach. Their work advocates finding freedom from self-doubt in all its forms, and enables a safe space for discourse between conflicting aspects of our lives.

We use all sorts of destructive methods to avoid happiness. Silence, withdrawal, convincing ourselves we never really wanted happiness anyway, because what if one day it disappears and you never get it back?

Through fooling we learn the importance of not avoiding things that make us happy. We learn to trust that happiness comes from honesty and connection, and it will always find its way back to us, if we let it.

It takes a little risk to dare to be happy.

Take it.

Learn more about Beyond The Ridiculous on Facebook and Holly’s website here:

Holly Stoppit runs many, many workshops where you can discover for yourself the transformative power of being silly:

What Actually Happens During Holly’s Fooling Workshops?

To apply for any courses, you need to first complete Holly’s Introduction To Clowning Weekend.


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