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20th-21st April 2024

Venue: Middle Studio, National Centre for Circus Arts, Coronet St, London N1 6HD

Cost: £100 (£80 for members)

Time: 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday

To book your place, follow this link


For more info, email 

Maximum: 12 participants 

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Clowning #6 - Circus through Clowning

“How can I be an incompetent clown while staying disciplined with my circus skill? What makes circus ridiculous?”

How can circus artists and students today integrate clowning productively into their discipline?


How can we bring together your own particular way of clowning (your stupidity and craziness) with the discipline of particular circus techniques, from juggling to aerial?


How can one be both a stupid, incompetent clown and at the same time remain focused on the high level of discipline demanded by one’s technique? How to be clumsy on a trapeze when safety is an issue? How to look at an audience when lying on your back whilst foot-juggling? 


Times and fashions may have changed since Annie Fratellini said that ‘the clown is the star of the circus (’le clown est la vedette du cirque’). But the links between the virtuosity of circus technique and the apparent stupidity and clumsiness of clowns remains deep and varied. Clowns have always been experts in drama, and today’s circus is an ideal space for developing our dramaturgical ingenuity, in the here and now of the physical performer in intimate relationship with their material equipment.


This workshop is suitable for those with an interest in clowning and who already have a minimum level in at least one circus technique.


We will aim to cover the following:


  • the clown as 'laughter-object'

  • making each other ridiculous

  • what makes circus ridiculous?

  • generating clown performance material: wrongness, disruption, surprise

  • assessing your individual discipline and skills from clown points of view

  • clown scripting: structures, formats, paths

  • generating clown performance material with individuals’ disciplines

  • performance of compositions using first principles of clown/audience dynamics of laughter response


By the end of the workshop, individual participants should each:

  • have gained an understanding of how the conditions of clown performance may apply to their own discipline (at whichever level of skill they are)

  • generated sufficient clown material relating to their discipline to continue working

  • have begun the work of creating a piece of clown/circus performance intended for public display

Jon Davison has taught extensively at circus training centres such as Circomedia (Bristol) and Circus Hub (Nottingham). He trained in clown and circus at Fool Time Circus School, Bristol, and has dedicated much of his teaching and directing to the question of how to create clown material using individual skills. He was the co-creator of Not A Real Horse, a clown’s re-creation of early equestrian circus, and has directed numerous circus artists.  

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