The Pedagogy of the Red Nose Clown

Clown’s Life Training, Boulder 2014

At the core of Giovanni Fusetti’s Pedagogy

The pedagogical approach integrates the Pedagogy of movement-based theatre of Jacques Lecoq with different principles and practices of physical and emotional awareness. In particular: Gestalt, Reichian Analysis, Bionergetics, Taoism and Process Work. The result is a deep artistic and emotional work, involving the body in a dynamic of play, technical training, awareness and performing folly.

This pedagogy is simultaneously an artistic process and a personal process.


Clown is about comic poetry : funny and touching, essential and rigorous. It’s a dive into the mystery of laughter.

Deeply rooted in movement-based theater,  Red Nose Theater Clown is a specific theatrical and poetical territory. The pedagogic process focuses in particular on the analysis, amplification and play of the physical and emotional world of each actor, as revealed by her or his natural body in space. This somatic process leads to the discovery of a unique individual clown, with a specific body, tempo, voice, costume, attitudes, emotions, and poetic world.

RED NOSE Training, Boulder 2008

The reference to the Neutral Mask is fundamental. In terms of movement, no body is neutral – every body carries profoundly expressive themes, embodied in everyday movement. Within each person’s movement and physical presence, there is a web of “non-neutral attitudes” and physical and emotional “background sounds”. If the body of the actor is observed with an eye to movement, using the reference point of the Neutral State, this web appears like painting/markings on a white sheet. They are “dramatic” in the etymological sense: they contain a drama – an action. The exploration and analysis of the body within the theatrical space reveals a movement dynamic that is constantly expressed through core movement patterns.

The use of the smallest mask in the world, the RED NOSE and the amplification and articulation of these very personal movement themes allows the actor to enter the Clown State. The clown is a state of playing, in which the actor unfolds the themes that are impressed in the body. In this process everyone has access to the key question: what is so funny about me ?
To discover one’s own clown is to reveal one’s own unique comic persona and turn it into a universal comic form.

The theater artist is a poetical human being. There is something fundamental about the discovery of the individual Clown: it’s raw, essential, naive, personal, emotional, unique, challenging, empowering, revealing, and extremely rewarding… It’s the exquisite pleasure of touching the empty space of complete comedy and sublime stupidity.

As a theater territory, or genre, Clown has a unique poetic potential because it allows the performer to explore and play with the naiveté and the vulnerability of the child and with the rigor and the technique of the adult, thus revealing the poetry of the ridiculous, and a unique personal poetic power. The sublime stupidity of the clown is the enduring openness to life and to the present moment, despite the radical imperfection of humane nature.
Clown is a dance of human resilience.

There are as many clowns as there are human beings.
There is one way to stand while there are infinite ways to fall.
Intelligence is limited. 
Stupidity is infinite. 

Giovanni Fusetti

Helikos School 2013


As a personal journey, the discovery of one’s individual clown is an ecstatic way to get in touch with one’s unique humanity, and play with it in a space of openness, vulnerability, artistic rigor and poetical fun. The individual journey is held by the group who witnesses the quest and participate to the collective nature of human stupidity. The personal process in the pedagogy is based on the combination of three fundamental principles. The first two come from the field of body-oriented psychotherapies, first explored in the West by Wilhelm Reich and then developed by many different approaches, the most influential of them being the Bioenergetics Analysis by Alexander Lowen, himself a student of Reich.

The first principle states that
What is not expressed by the body remains impressed in the body in the form of a physical structure, or character.
If this character is explored with the tools of mask theater and the Red Nose, it unfolds into a clown form deeply rooted in the somatic structure of the actor. This is what this approach to clown can be defined as a Somatic Clown Process.

The second principle states that

The expression of all emotions brings fluidity (flow) to the body, and this fluidity brings physical pleasure.
This the basis of the fun of the actor in playing a physical character.

The third principle is related to the archetypal nature of theater as a ritual of connection, exploration and integration of the different aspects of human nature:

The parts of ourselves that we don’t play with, will play us. 
Another way of expressing this principle is that what we can’t play of ourselves will posses us.

Identity is a process, and so it is the self. As a way of getting in touch with, and integrating different parts of the self, theater becomes a powerful space of knowledge, awareness and personal and collective empowerment. Through the playful unfolding of the energies impressed in the body, a clown will appear, and through playing this form with the rigorous support of theater technique, a unique poetic world will emerge, as well as a fundamental process of personal evolution.

The Way (Tao) of the clown brings powerful and highly poetical insights, witnessed by the audience and celebrated with laughter, and generates the ecstatic joy of being who we are in a unique experience of letting go of all intentions (Wu-Wei).

HELIKOS Pedagogic Training, Padova 2019

To learn more about Giovanni’s approach you can explore the WRITINGS page.