Document Type

Journal Article


Queensland University of Technology * Creative Industries Faculty


Faculty of Education and Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




This article was originally published as: Phillips, M. J. (2013). Diminutive Catastrophe: Clown's Play. M/C Journal, 16(1), 1-6. Original article available here


Clowns can be seen as enacting catastrophe with a small “c.” They are experts in “failing better” who perhaps live on the cusp of turning catastrophe into a metaphorical whirlwind while ameliorating the devastation that lies therein. They also have the propensity to succumb to the devastation, masking their own sense of the void with the gestures of play. In this paper, knowledge about clowns emerges from my experience, working with circus clowns in Circus Knie (Switzerland) and Circo Tihany (South America), observing performances and films about clowns, and reading, primarily in European fiction, of clowns in multiple guises. The exposure to a diverse range of texts, visual media and performance, has led me to the possibility that clowning is not only a conceptual discipline but also a state of being that is yet to be fully recognised.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.