Sarah Buckland and Amanda Allen

A Real "Nose" for Medical Clowning

CLASS OF 2011

Sarah Buckland and Amanda Allen

When Sarah Buckland, a theatre and English major, and Amanda Allen, a fellow theatre and education major (2011) came to Wayland, their silly antics and humor often brought them to the stage as they entertained many WBU audiences. Today, the lessons they learned at Wayland have brought them back into the spotlight; though, their stage is quite different. The two friends now head a Chicago-based nonprofit organization called Nose Goes where their audience is found in the halls of a hospital.  

While Sarah was pursuing her Professional Training Degree in Physical Theater from Dell’Arte Institute of the Arts (2012), she was introduced to clowning and created her character, a Texas spitfire named Nanny Boo-Boo. Working alongside her sister, a physical therapist, Sarah began to see that humor helped the patients, and she wondered what might happen if the two fields were combined.  

“I was already working for a major rehabilitation hospital in Chicago and went to them with the idea of medical clowning,” says Sarah. “We started off doing performances for kids in the pediatric area on Fridays, and then it evolved into more. It really is an amalgamation of all the things I loved about theatre and improv and the arts.”

Sarah contacted Amanda, and pitched her the idea of clowning. Excited at the prospect, Amanda decided to leave the classroom behind. Her teaching experience paired well with Sarah’s therapy training, and the result was a rewarding partnership.

“A lot of our clowning comes second nature to us, but we do practice during the week,” says Amanda, who plays Rosalind and is also a nanny and a graduate student. “We come up with the concepts of play that we can bring into the sessions. But working with kids in any capacity you tend to see the unexpected. The kids often throw us a new idea, and we just go with it.”

Although the two friends enjoy their improv fun, their main goal is to engage the young pediatric patients--a goal that is built on their time at Wayland.  

“Wayland taught us to take our own initiative. With support and encouragement from professors like Dr. Runnels, we were capable of not only creating a solid base of knowledge but also putting that knowledge into immediate action. A favorite example would be our work with Buckner's Foster Care. We wrote, directed, and performed in an interactive show for about 100 foster kids in our area. We then played games and hung out with them afterwards.”

 Now regulars at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Sarah and Amanda work with young children and teens. With their dedication to service and the support of other Chicago-based WBU alums like Mary and Tim Fisher, the two clowns are determined to grow the organization and to continue impacting the lives of patients and their families.

“To see the wonder on the therapist's face and the parents’ faces (when the children interact well) is a pivotal moment for everyone, as they see what play can do,” Sarah says. “Amanda and I have always had a passion for service in the arts, even at Wayland that was our focus.”

Currently, Sarah and Amanda are working to expand Nose Goes, which is now a 501C-3 non-profit organization. Despite having their hands full with clowning, the friends continue to pursue their dreams of higher education. Sarah is earning her Child Life Specialist Certification through the University of California Santa Barbara, and Amanda is pursuing her Master's in Educational Psychology from Ball State University.

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