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Clowns and Identity


Clowns and Identity – reinventing clowning from the margins

A Research Works event at Guildhall School of Music & Drama

26th February 2024

Get your free ticket here


Clowns are often presumed to stage the marginalised. But what happens when artists of marginalised identities are the ones actually doing the clowning?


Much of my recent and current research has been in collaboration with artists of marginalised identities who are reinventing clowning, and how that might then teach everyone else a way to do it which is more relevant to us today than the old 1960s models derived from Lecoq and Gaulier.


In this presentation I will share some of those research practices and attempt to gather the diverse strands together, in order to articulate common findings and suggestions for future exploration.


  • The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble: clown relationships through the dynamics of signing/speaking actors


  • Quiplash – clowning emerging from comfort and access needs of disabled artists


  • The Mammy Project – why African American artists choose not to clown


  • Fatina Cummings – clowning from the discomfort of black British artists


Dominant discourse on clowning holds that clowns are personal, assuming we can understand humans as individuals. Research into clowning emerging from marginalised identities, however, sees clowns as defined by cultural contexts and identities which depend on ethnicity, gender, social class, disability, etc.

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