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Jon Davison

Jon Davison is a clown performer, teacher, director, producer, researcher and musician with nearly 40 years’ experience in theatre, street, circus and TV.

 

He taught clown, improvisation and acting at the Institut del Teatre de Barcelona from 1996-2006, when he became a co-founder of the Escola de Clown de Barcelona.

 

From 2007-2010 he was an AHRC-funded Creative Fellow investigating contemporary clown/actor training at Central School of Speech and Drama, where he obtained his PhD in Clown Performance Practice.

 

He is Lecturer in Clowning at London Metropolitan University and founder of the London Clown School. He is the author of two books, ‘Clown Readings in Theatre Practice’ and ‘Clown Training, a practical guide’, which have become major textbooks for students of clowning worldwide.

 

He is producer of the long-running monthly clown show ‘Friday Flop’ and currently dedicating himself to teaching, directing and performing clowning online. He runs the London Clown School, providing regular clown workshops in the UK as well as frequent visits worldwide to teach clowning.

Jon invites us through a door into the agility of our imagination. His ideas and exercises are simple, playful, whimsical, and work in deep moment-to-moment awareness. But please look around at other online miracles as I don’t want this one to get over crowded. (Peter Shub, Clown, USA/Germany)

"It was such a pleasure and inspiration to join the London Clown School online.  It was both freeing and vulnerable, risky and low-stakes, silly and full of learning.  Really fun watching a great teacher do his thing, and watching others succeed and fail with equal enthusiasm. I got so much out of it as a performer, and also as a person deprived of interesting and spontaneous human experiences by pandemic isolation." (Marya Bee, Performer and Creator, Canada)

“The class was relaxed, playful and wonderfully exploratory! I loved it and have been using what I've learned to keep going with online clowning!” (Charlotte Gowdy, Independent Performer, UK)

 

"I loved Clown School Online. Jon is such an encouraging and insightful teacher- he always spots where your work is exciting but more importantly how you can take it forwards. I learnt so much from him and the rest of the group. There was a mixture of prepared pieces, tasks off the cuff and both group and solo work which constantly kept me on my toes! I found the online format was actually beneficial in making my jokes clearer, better written and better structured... It felt like it became about the material rather than just stage presence. I thoroughly recommend Jon's classes- they were an absolute joy!!!

Looking forward to joining another course soon!"

(Paloma Oakenfold, Performer, UK)

 

"This course has been of great value to me because not only has it been informative but it has kept me feeling creative and has connected me with a diverse group of people in Lockdown. On this course you don't just learn from the teacher you learn from everyone else on the course and you find out more about your own aptitudes, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses. I think the more you put in the more you get out of it.

The other participants bring a very diverse and culturally rich range of ideas to bear.

The course being digital at moment has added value as devising for Zoom calls for much more considered use of the frame, sometimes editing and the motion rhythm seems of heightened importance. The clown relation to audience has been a big challenge and a stimulus throughout.

I strongly recommend this course."

(Ian Macnaughton, Actor, UK)

I played my first small solo and managed to apply some of the ingredients of your method.

It was fun! And it worked! The feedback I got:

•You seemed very relaxed in stage

•There was always laughter

•It was so stupid!

•Really funny

•The audience always felt safe and recognized.

So, I wanted to say thank you and that your method produces something pleasurable for both the performer and the audience.” (Tobi Tambornino, Germany)

 

“Thank you for the brilliant course. It was wonderful in every way – personally challenging without any terror attached, mind opening, fear conquering. I think everyone should do a clown course to better understand themselves and others. And particularly do yours.” (Dr Dea Birkett, Ringmaster and leader of Circus250)

 

“Jon is a brilliant teacher!” (Dani Tonks, Wild Play Lab, London)

"Jon is the best teacher I have ever had, and I am a very picky person. He is like the rain that gently falls onto the earth, softly moistens the grass and encourages every plant to grow at their own pace. He never judges people and gives a lot of freedom. He makes scaffolds and you will find yourself making progress and achieving more than you have expected. The way he inspired me definitely boosted my self-confidence and stimulated my creativity. Now I know myself better and I love myself more. Last but not least, all the happiness and silliness you will experience in his clowning course is the medicine for life! We all had so much fun!” (Jingxian Mei, Clown Foundation Course 2018)

 

"You won't know when you start a clown course what you will discover ... with Jon Davison he makes it wholly about your journey, supportive and a true guide. He has specific and helpful ideas, which he clearly communicates, even more, he has a genuine capacity to facilitate your learning. People say he’s a clown teacher genius. I am saying this too, although I have only experienced 8 other clown teachers. I never want to leave the London Clown School … that’s why I am so happy to keep getting it wrong (this is a bad clown joke)!”

(Justine Smith)

 

"If you can make it and were thinking of going, just go. It's amazing." (Caitlin Day - Nottingham Clown Course)

"thank you so much for all the laughs and the experiences so far...it’s a wonderful class and I’m very grateful to you and the group for the sheer joy of it all. Thanks for sharing your superb gifts and teaching”

(Mark Denham - London Clown School student)

"This morning’s class in emojis...
😶🤨🤥😭😅 💩(Avril Cummins - Johannesburg teacher of theatre)

“a teacher who never gave up and taught me not to be afraid” (Fiona Keenan, Bristol workshop student)

 

"What a ridiculously funny and informative workshop!" (Nathalie Codsi, Brighton clown student)

"Thanks for such an engaging workshop. I loved how you de-emphasized the individual clown- which has always felt like a difficult way in for me. It was fascinating to see how we arrived at many of the core concepts in clown in a much more intuitive and felt way."

(Rebecca Stevens MA Performance Practice Research, RCSSD)

The workshop was fantastic, one of the best things I’ve done since I arrived in England … I am definitely laughing much more and much harder since the workshop!” (Dror Latan, Circomedia student)

 

“Great fun and a very good learning experience” (Katherine Steer, Brighton clown student)

  

“I really enjoy your teaching approach... I felt I was eased into the session nicely (as I was a little nervous), but toward the end I felt like we were digging deeper. It was a nice gradient!” (Jenny Haufek, Brighton clown performer and student)

"Some of the most illuminating and enjoyable workshops I've done (and I'm addicted to the things)" (Jonathan Richardson, producer of House of Idiot Comedy Club, and London Clown School student) 

 

"Jon Davison is a great clown teacher" (Lucy Hopkins, freelance physical theatre performer and creator)

 

"I wish I was in London to do this, the man's a genius!!" (Klara Van Wyk, clown student and performer, South Africa)

“recommended OED source of authoritative information on clowning terminology” - Peter Gilliver (Associate Editor, Oxford English Dictionary)

 

“displays his inner clown impeccably” (Reseña, Madrid)

 

“Absurd” (ABC, Madrid )

 

“a much-needed contribution to the field, discussing historical and contemporary clowning in one volume” (Lucy Amsden, reviewing “Clown Readings”)

 

“fascinating, innovative analysis ... Davison’s book is marked by an intense investment in his subject matter ... The book’s wealth of information and broad scope encourages further detailed looks at a variety of clown histories and practices. Often taking views contrary to other clown or theatre practitioners and scholars, Davison hopes to ruffle feathers.” (Dave Peterson, reviewing “Clown Readings”)

"Davison is not afraid to challenge assumptions and counter prejudices. The result is a gratifyingly historicized and situated account of a staggering range of examples of clowning, grounded in personal artistic experience, which is invaluable for students and scholars alike. Clown is impressively ambitious in scope, ranging from Shakespearean fools to hospital clowns, from Buster Keaton to the Koshari of New Mexico” (Barnaby King, reviewing 'Clown Readings')

Biography

What I've done 

 

Professional Training

Schools

1992-93 École Philippe Gaulier

1989 Foundation Course in Circus, Fool Time Circus School (Bristol)

 

Workshops

2019-20 Kalarippayattu Indian Martial Arts, London

2016 Yiddish song and improvisation – Polina Shepherd (Jewish Music Institute, London)

2015 Flatfoot Dance – Alice Cade (Chats Palace, London)

2014 Trampoline – Caroline Quist (Phoenix Fitness Centre, London)

2014 Parkour – Parkour Generations, London

2011-13 Comedy Script Writing – Guy Meredith (City Lit, London)

2010-15 Eccentric Dance – Barry Grantham

2010 Sword Dance (Rapper and Longsword) – Hawksword, London

2008/2009 Andrey Drozhnin Movement Technique – Natalia Fedorova (MXAT)

2008 Michael Chekhov Technique – Lenard Petit (Michael Chekhov Acting Studio)

2008  Meyerhold's Biomechanics and Chekhov's Psychological Gesture - Sergey Ostrenko

2007-15 Clog Dance – Camden Clog (EFDSS)
2006 Clown - Moshe Cohen 
2003 Improvisation - Ruth Zaporah 
1993 Clown - Théâtre de Complicité 
1991 Fool - Jonathan Kay 
1991 Tight Wire – Kate Verney 
1990 Voice – Franki Armstrong 
1989-91 Improvisation – Guy Dartnell 
1989-90 Clown - Franki Anderson 
1989-90 Voice - Guy Dartnell 
1989 Clown - John Lee 
1988-9 Tai Chi – Simon Biddlestone, Nottingham ICC 
1988 Puppetry – Bob Wade 
1987 Political Theatre History and Practice – Nottingham CAC 
1983 Mime – Pete Holdway 
1981-2 Karate – Nottingham University 

 

Education
2012-2018 Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – PhD in Clown Performance
2006 University of Kent – M.A. Practice as Research (Drama)
1981-85 University of Nottingham – B.A. (Hons) in French Studies (2:1)

 

Languages 
English (native), Spanish (fluent), French (fluent), Catalan (fluent).

 

Performing – Clown/Theatre
2017-20 - Producer of Friday Flop, monthly event at Rosmeary Branch Theatre, London

2014-15 – Created and performed Not A Real Horse with Stupididity

2014 - Created and performed clown solo Can clown performance be made out of clown training? at RCSSD

2011-13 – Created/performed solo show 21st Century Clown at CSSD, London variety and cabaret venue2013-15 - Created and performed clown solo The Self-Deconstruction of Clowning at RCSSD.
2012 - Performer with Festive Road, devising/performing Brewing Up, touring SE England festivals.
2011-15 - Performed with Camden Clog, various folk festivals throughout Britain.
2011- Co-created and performed with Sophie Page-Hall The Mermaid, trapeze/clown show, various festivals in UK.
2010-13 - Created and toured The Spaghetti Horse, co-produced by Stratford Circus.
2010 – Devised/performed Clowning by Numbers at Battersea Arts Centre and various cabarets, London.
2008-9 – devised and performed Jontxu...to be and Clown Phenomena, at London venues (Chisenhale Dance, Boogaloo, Festival of Emergent Art) and Edinburgh Fringe Festival (with Sideshow)
1993-2006 - Co-founded, with Clara Cenoz, Companyia d’Idiotes, Barcelona. Shows to date: Mamiydaddy; Bebè Dolent; Ou Xou; Clown Impromptu; Macbez; Tzirk!; Home Sweet Home; Look Into My Eyes!!!; Don’t Play It Again, Sam; De Kartró; Jonny D.; Klezmer Clown. Touring Spain, U.K., France, Russia, Poland (Tàrrega; Festival Cos; Mercat de les Flors; Teatre Malic; El Canto de la Cabra; La Paloma; etc)
2000 - La Llave Perdida with Companyia Mousiké, Barcelona.
1998 - Variétés 98 with Jango Edwards, Teatre Goya, Barcelona.
1992 - Solo experimental clown show Ghosts, The Dance Centre, Bristol.
1991 - Solo impro clown show I Want To Be A Human Being, various venues, Bristol.
- Lunatic Agency, impro group with Franki Anderson, Guy Dartnell, Bristol.
1987-8 - Co-founded Cast of Thousands Theatre, 2-man clown company, writing and touring shows around U.K.: The Audition; Things Go Horribly Wrong; You’ll Never Walk Alone; The Story With The Missing Pages; Victorian Values.
1987 - Dom Juan in Dom Juan by Molière, The Third Eye Centre, Glasgow.
1986 - Bobby Trot in Luke the Labourer, dir. Simon Shepherd, Nottm., Loughborough, Manchester.
- Cabarets with City Stage at The Old Vic, Nottm.
- Agit-Prop Sketches from The Workers Theatre Movement and The Actress’s Franchise League, The P.A. Studio, Nottm.
- Sganarelle in Sganarelle by Molière, The New Theatre, Nottm.
- Fear of Falling by Mark Aldridge, The Midland Group, Nottm.
- Music Hall Show, Yates’ and The Old Vic, Nottm.
1985 - Various roles in Blood Relations by Carol Churchill, with City Stage, Nottm.P.A. Studio.
- Other Experiments, with City Stage, The New Theatre, Nottm.
- Revue Show, The New Theatre, Nottm.
1984 - Greeneyes in Deathwatch by Jean Genet, Nottingham Playhouse.
- Matthew in The Threepenny Opera by Brecht, dir. Simon Shepherd, Yates’, Nottm.
- Revue Shows with QYT, touring England and Wales.
1983 - L’Idiote in Les Mouches by Sartre, The Performing Arts Studio, Nottm.
- Krapp’s Last Tape by Beckett, dir. Jem Carden, The New Theatre, Nottm.
- Revue Shows and Street Theatre with QYT, Nottm., Darlington, Coventry.
- Mime Artist with Le Théâtre Jeune de Narbonne, touring Languedoc.
1982 - Marquis de Sade in Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, dir. Jem Carden, The New Theatre, Nottm.
- Revue Show, touring bars, Nottingham.

 

Cinema/TV/Commercials/Radio
2003 - Presenter in feature length documentary Asia en Casa, by Leo de Armas.
2003 - Chairman of the panel in comedy talent show series 4 i acció…, TVE2, Spain.
2001-5 - Principal roles in commercials for: Renault Kangoo; Turismo Canarias; Vivatours; TVE1; Agua de Veri; Karstadt; Nokia; Cerveza Damm; Michelob;Rianxeira; Helios; Vodafone; Williams;Polaris;Port Aventura.
2001 - Appeared as Clown in feature film El Zoo d’en Pitus.
1992 - Fool (principal role) in short film No Man’s Land by S. Dewey.
1984 - Wrote and presented series on UK pop, Radio Narbona, France.
1982 - John (principal role) in short film The House by Simon Brown.

 

Video Art
2003-5 - Made feature length documentary on clown training, Play and Play Portraits. Barcelona.

 

Director
2020 - Krista Komondor, Twitch

2019 – Clowning director for Mathilda and the Orange Balloon, DH Ensemble, London

2017-20 - Friday Flop with Citizens of Nowhere

2014-15 – Not A Real Horse with Stupididity

2010-13 – The Spaghetti Horse with Sclowns.
2005 - Uncle Vanya by Chekhov, Institut del Teatre de Barcelona.
2004 - Belle-ile-en-mer, by clown company Compañía In Serius, at Can Felipa, Barcelona.
2003 - Mossegades, by Companyia Mousiké, at L’Atelier, Barcelona.
2001 - Molt Trist, by clown company Companyia Sense P, at Teatre Malic, Barcelona.
2001 - The Duchess of Malfi by Webster, at Col.legi del Teatre, Barcelona.
1999-2000 - Play, experimental improvisation, at La Caldera, Barcelona.
1993-2006 - With Clara Cenoz, all of Companyia d’Idiotes’ productions, Barcelona.
1993 - Pétards Mouillés, clown company, London.
1991 - Jo de Waal, experimental singer, Bristol.
1990 - Town In The Dumps, mask show by Nothing Personal Theatre Company, Bristol.
1985-6 - All of Cast of Thousands Theatre’s productions, Nottm.
1982-4 - Various revues, sketches, etc.
1982 - Les mouches by Sartre, P.A. Studio, Nottm.
1982-2006 - Numerous short pieces and individual numbers by various performers.

 

Stage Manager
1992 - 3D Collaborative Theatre, circus-dance company, Bristol.
1991 - Tented show by Fool Time Circus School, Bristol.

Assistant Casting Director
2002- Assistant to Itziar Hernandez, Barcelona. 
-Assistant to Carol Piera, Barcelona.

 

Musician 
Instruments: accordion, piano, child’s piano, banjo, violin, clarinet. 
Styles: Klezmer, Folk (British, Irish, American, Romanian, Bulgarian), Classical, Ragtime/Early Jazz. 
Sight reading: high level.

2019-21 – Co-founder and accordionist with Rhythm of the Floor, Scottish/Canadian folk duo, London
2017-18 - Accordionist and co-founder of Popurri klezmer band, London. 

1986-2015 – Busker playing accordion and child’s piano, UK and Europe.
2004-2006 - Co-founded Hop!, Clown-Klezmer band, Barcelona.
2004 - Arranged and performed, with Ciuri-Ciuri, music for the show Una Gitana en Barcelona, by Maria Stoyanova, at La Nave J.
1997-2003 - Co-founded Orkestina, Jewish/Gypsy band, Barcelona, releasing 3 CD’s: Soul of Europe; Jewish Gypsy; Transilvania Express.
1990 - Member of Mere Mortals, devising and performing music for Fen by Carol Churchill, Hope Centre, Bristol.
1987-93 - Accordionist with Wholesome Fish, Celtic-Cajun band, Nottm., touring U.K., Ireland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania.

 

Teaching
2014-21 - Founder of London Clown School

2018-21 – Clowning Module, BA Theatre and Performance Practice, London Metropolitan University

2020  – Online Clown workshop facilitator, National Youth Theatre (UK)

2020  – Clown workshop facilitator, Cirkobalkana, Belgrade, Serbia

2019 – Clown workshop facilitator, Calgary Clown Festival, Canada

2018-20 – Clown workshop facilitator, The Open Space, Brussels, Belgium

2018 – Clown workshop facilitator, Montreal Clown Festival, Montreal

2018 – Clown workshop facilitator, New York Clown Theatre Festival, NYC

2018 – Clown workshop facilitator, V&A Museum, London

2018-19 – Visiting Lecturer in Clowning at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) (BA modules in Physical and Applied Theatre)

2018 - Taught clown workshops in Johannesburg (African Film and Drama Academy), Soweto (Ngizwe Youth Theatre) and Cape Town (Clowns Without Borders, Magnet Theatre) (South Africa)

2017-18 - PhD Co-Supervisor and Lecturer, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

2016-18 - Taught clown internationally: Peru, South Africa, Belgium

2006-13 - Co-Director of Studies, Escola de Clown de Barcelona.
2007-19 - Visiting Lecturer in Clown, CSSD, University of London. Taught clown on undergraduate and (BA Drama, Applied Theatre and Education, BA Theatre Practice, BA Acting) postgraduate courses (MA Classical Acting, MA Acting for Screen, MA Actor Training and Coaching, MA Applied Theatre, MA Theatre Studies, MA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media).
2007-10 - Creative Research Fellow at CSSD, University of London.
1996-2006 - Taught Clown, Improvisation, Play and Actor Training at Institut del Teatre de
Barcelona.
2000-2 - Taught Acting with ITDansa, postgraduate dance company, Institut del Teatre.
1997 - Co-taught Clown with Jango Edwards at El Mercat de les Flors, Barcelona; and Festival of Fools, Loèche-les-Bains, Switzerland.
1995-2005 - Clown, Play and Impro workshops and full year courses at numerous drama schools, Barcelona (Col.legi del Teatre, El Timbal, Co&Co, etc.)
1992 - Founded The Experimental Clown Group, Bristol, dedicated to clown and play research.
1987-8 - With Cast of Thousands Theatre, numerous workshops in universities, schools, community and youth centres, including residencies at Long Eaton School and Ollerton Dukeries.
1987 - Theatre in Education anti-racism projects with Strange Fruit Theatre, Nottm.
1984-6 - Workshops on Clown, Brecht and Shakespeare, with City Stage, Nottm.
1984-5 - Theatre workshops at community centres, Derry.
1983 - Mime workshops, Languedoc, France.

 

Publishing
Publications

2021 Clowning Workbook (forthcoming) (Methuen)

2015 Clown Training (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)

2013 Clown: Readings in Theatre Practice (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)

2009 “Clown Prosthetics and Amputations” in Performance Research Vol. 14, No.4 'Transplantations'

 

Conference Papers

2018 ‘Thinkers for our time – Charlie Chaplin’, British Academy, London

2018 ‘A Brief History of Clown Fashion: Using Material Evidence of Costume for Research‘, Circus and Beyond - Rethinking the History of Popular Entertainment, University of Sheffield

2017 ‘Successful Failure’, TEDx RCSSD.

2017 ‘Clown Politics’, Clowns and Power Symposium, London International Mime Festival, Jacksons Lane

2015 “Documenting Clown Training”, Comedy Symposium, University of Salford/BBC

2015 “What Is The Value Of Clown Training?” Intersections Performance Research, RCSSD

2014 “Clown History Today”, TaPRA Royal Holloway University

2014 “The Staging of Spontaneity”, Colloquium of Performance Research, RCSSD

2013 “How To Be A Clown”, TaPRA,University og Glasgow

2013 “Historicising Contemporary Clown”, Colloquium of Performance Research, CSSD

2010 “Clown Training Today”, TaPRA, University of Glamorgan

2010 “Clown Training”, Documenting Practices, CSSD

2009 “An Encyclopaedia of Clown”, Festival Of, CSSD

2009 “The Dramaturgy of Clown”, Festival Of, CSSD

2008 “The Practice of Failure”, Festival of Emergent Arts, CSSD

2008 “The Phenomenology of Clown”, Festival of Emergent Arts, CSSD.