Preview: Toronto Festival of Clowns


Get red-nosed with the Toronto Festival of Clowns, starting tomorrow

Toronto doesn’t take lightly to the phrase “Send in the clowns” because it certainly will. Come May 29th, the Toronto Festival of Clowns will kick off its 8th year of physical performance fiends and general bouts of clowning around. Having expanded to include two venues this year, you’ll be able to see various feats of clownishness at Pia Bouman School and Unit 102. Running until June 2nd, you’ll have ample time to spot shows ranging from comedia to mime to bouffon to fascinating character pieces and plenty of other styles.

A festival that encourages experimentation, the Toronto Festival of Clowns features both full length shows and cabarets. New this year are the triple bills – 15 minute performances that are either brand new or workshop productions. The triple bills run in a series at Unit 102 and are also a space for new performers to showcase their talents.

Looking through the array of performances I thought these were some interesting highlights:

  • You Killed Hamlet, a show created by Nathaniel Justiniano and Ross Travis that delves into the notion of death and makes a complete mockery out of it using Hamlet as the butt of the joke.
  • A Funeral for Clowns, a full length piece that is what happens when a dysfunctional family of red-nosed pill poppers, curmudgeons, and narcoleptics come together to pay their respects and share in the proverbial last laugh.
  • Everyone’s favourite clownish pair, Morro and Jasp, return to host the Red Nose District and are joined by a rotating gang of top notch fools.

Other notables to look out for are the Dora Award winning Keystone Theatre, returning to this year’s festival with Gold Fever, inspired by the klondike and features brilliant physical comedy. Michele Smith directs her daughter, Nina Gilmour, in a Shakespeare-centric show that wonders what would happen if Desdemona and Ophelia returned from the murky depths of death, all within the scope of a bouffon-styled satire.

All regular performances and cabarets are $15, which means you can feel free to go ahead and get your clown on.


  • The Toronto Festival of Clowns is running at both the Pia Bouman School (6 Noble St.) and Unit 102 (376 Dufferin St.) from May 29 to June 2, 2013
  • Shows run from 6:30pm onward on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, from 2:30pm on Saturday, and from 1:30pm on Sunday
  • Tickets are $15
  • Tickets can be purchased online or at the door