What is clown? (A Multimedia Project)

Posted by on Nov 10, 2009 in BLIGHT PRODUCTIONS NEWS


OBJECTIVE: To discover what the concept of “clown” means and how it relates to “play”.

THE QUESTIONS: This will be an evolving list of questions as my research digs deeper, but at this point the questions I am attempting to answer are:

What is clown?

Why does the majority of western culture harbor a fear of clown?

What is play?

How does play relate to clown?




1. From Wikipedia:

History of Western Clowns – Clowning was developed from a broad tradition and it is difficult to say that it has developed as a singular tradition or a few different ones. Examples of historical clown types have been the pantomimus in ancient Greece, the Lazzi of Commedia dell’Arte, Bouffons, Court Jesters, the French Mime tradition. On top of this there are many non-European clowning traditions (including clown-like figures in Japanese Kabuki theatre) to consider which may or may not have influenced what we now think of when we think of a clown.

Coulrophobia – is abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns. The term is common, but it does not appear to be used in psychology. It is common among children, but is also sometimes found in teenagers and adults as well.Sufferers sometimes acquire a fear of clowns after having a bad experience with one personally, or seeing a sinister portrayal of one in the media. A design study carried out by the University of Sheffield found that children are frightened by clown-themed décor in hospitals. Coulrophobia can also be said to extend to a fear of covering up one’s face with paint—the idea of hiding recognizable features under a layer of face-paint can also unsettle coulrophobia sufferers

2. Coulrophobia &  The Trickster (by Joseph Durwin)

3 . Free Play (by Stephen Nachmanovitch)

Free Play Book Cover

4. Pat Cashin: (Circus Clown, Historian, Founder of ClownAlley.net)

5. The NY Down Town Clown Review:


I began my exploration into this project Monday November 9th 2009, I ventured over to an apartment in the lower east side, where 2 of the worlds top clowns were hanging out.

Jef Johnson – (Slavas Snowshow, & Cirque Du Soleil)

Jango Edwards – (Creator of the “International Festival of Fools” & “The Nouveau Clown Institute” in Barcelona, Spain.


11-09-09 Jango & Jef Interview Clip 03 0 03 38-1011-09-09 Jango & Jef Interview Clip 10 0 03 43-0411-09-09 Jango & Jef Interview Clip 10 0 01 16-27

11-09-09 Jango & Jef Interview Clip 04 0 06 38-2811-09-09 Jango & Jef Interview Clip 10 0 05 29-1311-09-09 Jango & Jef Interview Clip 11 0 01 04-20

I am in the process of editing down the first few interviews, there is some really amazing stuff in this batch.


The end result of this little documentary “Clowns, Fear, and the Art of Play”, will become the first episode of an interactive, ongoing, webseries; that explores the culture of clown and the art of play. This series will first begin with a series of “spark” questions, that are addressed to a panel of international clowns, once a few episodes are made, the questions will then be generated by the audience. Viewers will be invited to ask questions about Play, Clown, Life, Advice, History, including any and all topics, and this cast of international clowns will answer these questions in following episodes.

The first season of episodes will be experimental documentary format, where there will be no main host, or interviewer, and the focus of the segments will be the questions asked, and the concepts and ideas discussed within. After the initial season, the format will be opened up to more experimentation, with potential interviews, being conducted via, Skype, or some other remote form of video capture.

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