Words about Clown. Sotigue Kouyaté

by | Nov 28, 2007 | Clown

One of the highlights of the 2006 Anjos Do Picadeiro festival in Brazil was the presence of Sotigue Kouyaté. This Paris based actor is very well known in the theater world , one of Peter Brook’s actors. He comes from Mali, and is a Griot (West African poet, praise singer, and musician). He offered a short workshop and a lecture demonstration. I was able to sneak a brief conversational moment with him….I waited as the ring of enthusiasts, friends, questioners, well wishers following his lecture/demonstration thinned out then walked him from the theater to his waiting ride to the airport.


With the Hotxua present at the festival, what was on my mind are the clown traditions in communities on other continents. We spoke in French  (which is below the English)
Moshe: what is the clown?

Sotigue Kouyaté: The clown, for us, has a special role (function). Because, for us the Griots, we have a song: The serious doesn’t hinder the game, and the game doesn’t hinder the serious.
We can get across the best message through the game (games), even the most dramatic things. So the clown is a message carrier since laughter gives health, it’s a therapy.

Moshe: The clown in Mali, does it have a name?

Sotigue: Cotojuba

Moshe: Are they always men, or are sometimes women also clowns?

Sotigue: Often men.

Moshe: sometimes women?

Sotigue: The women can, but rarely do. Because of their occupation (s),

Moshe: (Speaking of clowns) Is it something that they do for a moment in their life, or is the role lifelong?

Sotigue: It’s in their life, they are obliged to this.

Moshe: Are they chosen?

Sotigue: It’s like a caste. They are obliged. They have to do it.

Moshe: Is this their only occupation, or do they live a normal life.

Sotigue: They live a normal life. During the year, they have the duty to clown.
Moshe: Que ce que le clown:

Sotigue: Le clown, pour nous, ca a un fonction speciale. Par ce que, pour nous les griots, on a une chanson: Le serieux n’empeche pas le jeu, et le jeu n’empeche pas le serieux.
On peut faire passer le meilleur message par le jeu, meme les choses le plus dramatique. Donc le clown est porteur de message puisque le rire donne la santé, c’est une therapie.

Moshe: Le clown au Mali, quel nom a t-il?

Sotigue: Cotojuba

Moshe : Est ce que c’est toujours des hommes, ou c’est parfois les femmes aussi?

Sotigué: Souvent les hommes

Moshe: parfois des femmes?

Sotigué: les femmes peuvent, mais rarement. A cause de leur occupation.

Moshe: Est ce que c’est quel que chose qu’il font pour un moment dans leur vie, ou est ce qu’est pour la vie

Sotigué: C’est dans leur vie. Ils sont obligés a cela.

Moshe: Est ce qu’ils sont choisies?

Sotigué : C’est comme un caste aussi. Ils sont obligés. Ils doivent leur faire.

Moshe: Est ce que c’est leur seul occupation, ou est ce qu’ils vivent une vie normale?

Sotigué: Ils vivent une vie normale. Dans l’année ils ont le devoir de le faire.

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