Volume 183, Summer 2020, pp. 25-29

In this article, Canadian theatre scholar Eury Colin Chang draws on his own training and performance experiences, as well as interviews conducted with two master bouffon teachers, to explore the bouffon’s critical capacities. Furthermore, he reflects on what these critical capacities might offer to the contemporary Canadian theatrical landscape. While Canada has been recognized internationally for our focus on physical theatre, circus arts, and even clowning, the specific clown tradition of bouffon is often given less attention and consideration. In contexts where bouffon is discussed, the emphasis is generally placed on the roots of this tradition in Europe, and the significant contemporary engagement with bouffon across Canadian is largely ignored. This article therefore fills a gap by exploring Canadian bouffon and considering what its potential might be for changing the professional theatre community here. This potential of bouffon, Chang suggests, resides in its ability to move beyond realism by offering new ways of being and seeing onstage, and in life. Furthermore, the bouffon is capable of revealing the complex interior life of the audience. This ability of bouffon to uncover, rediscover, and wrestle with the human psyche is at the core of its critical capacity.