Jon Davison | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Jon Davison


2011 Created/performed - 21st Century Clown - London variety and cabaret venues

2011 Performer - - Various folk festivals throughout Britain

2010 Creator - The Spaghetti Horse - Stratford Circus

2010 Devised/performed - Clowning by Numbers - Battersea Arts Centre and various cabarets, London

2008 Devised/performed - be and Clown Phenomena - London venues and Edinburgh Fringe Fest

Project Title

The Product of Clowning


Prof. Simon Shepherd


This research project begins by examining some dominant practices in contemporary clowning, focusing on two performance strategies or techniques available to the clown performer today: the performer’s flop, or failure; and the audience’s laughter response. Both the flop and laughter are identified by some as necessary elements in defining the dynamics of clowning, although some clown practitioners dispute this.

I examine how both these principles hold privileged positions within my own performance work. Through the devising of performance pieces specifically founded on these ‘clown principles’ I aim to test the functioning of these principles and the limits of such an approach.

These strategies have been dominant in clown training over several decades, but arguably have been used far less in actual clown performance. In what way does failure ‘work’? When does failure fail?


Jon Davison is a clown performer, teacher, director, researcher and historian, a musician and clog dancer. He is a co-founder and co-Director of Studies of the Escola de Clown de Barcelona and was a Creative Fellow at CSSD where he is now a PhD student.

He trained at the École Philippe Gaulier and Fool Time Circus School, as well as with Franki Anderson, Guy Dartnell, Ruth Zaporah, Jonathan Kay, John Lee, Moshe Cohen and Barry Grantham.

His first book, Clown: Readings in Theatre Practice, has just been published by Palgrave. He is currently preparing a Clown Workbook, a practical textbook for clown training, as well as translations into English of Tristan Rémy’s Les Clowns and Entrées Clownesques.


2013 Clown: a Reader in Theatre Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Journal Article

2009 'Clown Prosthetics and Amputations', Performance Research, Vol. Vol. 14, No: No.4: Transplantations

Conference Presentations

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


MA Practice as Research (University of Kent)
BA French Studies (University of Nottingham)

Teaching Areas/Expertise

  • Clown
  • Improvisation
  • Actor Training

2007-2013 Visiting Lecturer in Clown, CSSD, University of London
2007-2010 Creative Research Fellow at CSSD, University of London
2006-2013 Co-Director of Studies, Escola de Clown de Barcelona
2000-2002 Taught Acting with ITDansa, postgraduate dance company, Institut del Teatre de Barcelona
1996-2006 Taught Clown, Improvisation, Play and Actor Training at Institut del Teatre de Barcelona
1995-2005 Taught Clown, Play and Improvisation at drama schools in Barcelona (Col.legi del Teatre, El Timbal)
1992 Founded The Experimental Clown Group, Bristol, dedicated to clown and play research.