From the expression on one small boy’s face as he fled across the Plaza de la Constitución away from the clowns yesterday, I don’t think he was very much reassured by the old song. This must be a hard week for people who really don’t like clowns because they are everywhere. Festiclown has come to Vigo.
I’ve not yet worked out quite why it’s called Festiclown when there is a perfectly good Spanish word payaso which could just as easily be used to make it Festipayaso. And then, if you insist on gallego you could call it Festipallaso. It’s a bit like the old children’s game of paper, scissors, stone: in this case gallego beats Castilian but English, here at least, beats gallego. In reality, of course, even though the Spanish like to sprinkle English words in adverts and announcements, everything beats English because so many English tourists are just NOT going to understand the information in gallego – and most of the Festiclown information around is in gallego.
Linguistic matters out of the way, Festiclown is here for the week, with street entertainment at various key points of the city. The clown will offer to show how to break a girl’s heart – if all else fails he will burst the balloon with a pin.
Or Copita, the trained lamb, will show off her (or is it really his?) skills on the monocycle. More elaborate shows are being staged at the CaixaNova auditorium and similar places. Shows in streets and squares are free, including the high wire act due to take place in Plaza de la Constitución at midnight on Saturday.
The proceeds from the sale of tickets for indoor venues will go towards funding Un Festival de Pallasos en Palestina. The Fondoclown Solidario organisation supports social projects all over the world, such as educational projects in Mexico in previous years. This year they want to levar o sorriso aos nenos e nenas que viven nesta zona de conflicto – to take a smile to the boys and girls who live in that conflict zone. To that end, places in Vigo have been renamed: Plaza de la Constitución becomes Ramallah, Plaza del Mercado del Calvario is Hebron, the CaixaNova Cultural Centre is Bethlehem and the CaixaNova Concert Hall is Jerusalem.
And everyone who wants to do so can join in the fun. There are classes to introduce you to the art of clowning: Formaclown.
Or you could just “volunteer” to take part in a bit of ritual humiliation on the streets of Vigo – all in the name of clowning, of course!