Bringing hope in helpless situations

Monica Santos does clown shows in hospitals

Clowning is basically about connecting with people and bringing smiles to their faces. And Monica Santos from Spain, a professional clown, has been on a mission to touch the lives of people who are in painful situations, especially in hospitals and palliative care centres.

Founder of Big Smiles, a forum of professional hospital clowns in India, Ms. Santos was at the HOPE FEST, organised by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi in Thrissur, to perform her solo clown theatre.

“I work to bring a whiff of lightness in people’s lives through humour and tenderness,” says Ms. Santos. “Since 2017, my work could touch lives of more than 28,000 people, in very painful situations, at hospitals, orphanages, old age homes, palliative care centres, homes for rescued women from human trafficking, and schools for differently able children.”

A former bank employee in Spain, she was attracted to clowning after attending a clowning workshop. “Later, when I tried to learn more about clowning, I realised that it is a serious business. It became the philosophy of my life,” Ms. Santos. She reached Mumbai in 2016 and found the Big Smiles.

“Once you put your soul and energy into the art of clowning, you can engage your audience. Clowning has a universal language. The most important task of a clown performer is to make a strong connection with the audience. You need to be in tune with them.”

She developed her first hospital clown programme in India for children, cancer patients, and their relatives at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, in 2017.

Santos says she does clowning for a social purpose. “We cannot cure the disease but at least can bring a relief to the pain for a while by distracting their attention from the suffering, ” Ms. Santos points out.

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