Circus Through Clowning with Jon Davison

How can I be an incompetent clown while staying disciplined within my circus skill?

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.

About Jon Davison

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.

With 40 years’ experience in theatre, street, circus and television, Jon is a clown performer and musician, who also teaches, directs and mentors in the UK and internationally.  He has taught clown, improvisation and acting at the Institut del Teatre de Barcelona, and is the Lecturer in Clowning at London Metropolitan University.

A former Research Fellow at RCSSD (investigating contemporary clown/actor training), he founded the London Clown School, and co-founded the Escola de Clown de Barcelona.  He is also the author of ‘Clown Readings in Theatre Practice’, ‘Clown Training, a practical guide’, and ‘The Clowning Workbook’.

More Information


Sat 20  -Sun 21 April 2024

10am-4pm (including a lunch break)


£100 for the whole weekend

£80 for Open Training members (concession rate)

Maximum number of participants


Who is it for

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

Participants will be expected to bring their own equipment relating to their circus skill.  The space is equipped with basic rigging and safety mats.

We will aim to cover the following:

  • The clown as ‘laughter-object’
  • Making each other ridiculous
  • What it is that makes circus ridiculous
  • The generation of clown performance material: wrongness, disruption, surprise, etc.
  • The assessment of your individual discipline and skills from a clowning point of view
  • Clown scripting: structures, formats, paths, etc.
  • The generation of clown performance material alongside individuals’ disciplines
  • The performing of compositions, using first principles of clown/audience dynamics of laughter
  • 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?

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

  • Gained an understanding of how the conditions of clown performance may apply to their own discipline (according to their level of skill)
  • Generated sufficient clown material – related to their discipline – to develop into an act
  • Begun the work of creating a piece of clown/circus performance intended for public display