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Who's clowning around? Beirut school teaches misunderstood discipline

The first street theater school in the Middle East opened in Lebanon to teach clowning, a discipline that has challenged conventional thinking, encouraged discussion and provided moments of joy to societies for thousands of years.

BEIRUT — The Middle East's first school for street theater, the International Institute for Very Very Serious Studies (IIVVSS), opened its doors Sept. 1 in Beirut, specializing in clowning. Most people have been exposed to the discipline, but they remain unaware of the scholarship, history, social commentary and satire surrounding it.

“[Saying] ‘I want to be a clown’ means you want to be a figure who brings humor to society,” Giovanni Fusetti, a self-described interdisciplinary fool, told Al-Monitor. “It is very profound, but it is very hard, and of course you need to learn how to do it.”

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