Over the past week I’ve been the Artist in Residency at Toonspeak and here’s what I’ve been doing.

What I’m investigating.
I am observing Politicians as Performers. I am taking videos of the US presidential debates and speeches, as well as speeches from UK politicians, and I’m watching them with the sound OFF. I’m trying to learn their gestures and their body language. I am interested in taking what I learn and stretching these gestures, making them bigger and bigger, until they enter the the world of Bouffon Clowning, which is a grotesque and dark world where wicked and decadent characters are allowed to act without consequence to their actions.  Bouffons are there to provoke and to display human behaviour at it’s worst, and most ridiculous. I think there is a one-person show in this idea of a politician with a bouffon spirit behind the eyes. That’s why I am here working at Toonspeak.
It’s hard work working on this ‘heady’ and physical stuff on your own, so I was very thankful when my friend, actor Beth Frieden, came in on two occasions during the week to help me as an ‘outside eye’ and outside bouffon brain!

The Students want to talk about it.

When I introduced the topic to the S3 students at the local school, St. Roch’s Secondary, I was really inspired by how clued-up they were on the current presidential debate in the US, and what’s going on in politics in general, so I am looking forward to getting their input next session when we watch some videos with the sound off together.
The Toonspeak Sounding Board Next Door

Next door to the studio space is the Toonspeak office. While talking to Rachel in the office about what I was doing, she was immediately telling me about a study that’s been done in the US where they show people small clips of the presidential debates with the sound off, and the study shows that people can accurately guess who won the debate on body language alone! This was brilliant, and part of what’s great about the process of being Artist in Residence here at Toonspeak. You can work away all day in the studio and then, on a break, just be chatting in the other room to people in the office and suddenly you’ve got an interesting avenue to explore or in my case, evidence that my process is actually a scientific one that is being used already in some form in the wider world. This happened a second time with Paula in the office when she put me on to a video about this US election being the most violent yet. This is interesting because something has changed in the way certain politicians are conducting their rallies and speeches that are whipping people up into violent moods. It’s not that simple of course, but it’s an interesting avenue for my investigation. I’ve posted links to info on both these topics below.

Looking forward to continuing this investigation in two weeks time.
Video about this being the most violent election campaign in history

If you would like to enquire about our Artist in Residence opportunities, working with Toonspeak, becoming a participant or just like to learn more about what we do….

Call us (0141) 552 0234, email us, message Paula Toonspeak on Facebook

Or head to our What’s On page for all events.

We also love to hear your comments… feel free to leave a message in the wee box below. How do you feel about politicians as performers?