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Bouffon

Bouffon

Bouffoon (Eng. "buffoon", "jester") is an art form which originally concerned the "ugly people" of France, during the French Renaissance. According to leading Bouffon teacher Philippe Gaulier, excessively-ugly people, lepers, prostitutes, heretics, the mad, and those with disfiguring scars or deformities were "banished to the swamp" socially. But a notable exception was made during festivals, when the bouffons were expected to entertain the "beautiful people": as, for example, in the famous scene of Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris, in which the hunchback Quasimodo entertains the crowd.

During these performances, the bouffon's goal was often to mock the beautiful people as much as possible. The bouffon might target verbal attacks at the leaders of mainstream society, such as government notables or high officials of the Roman Catholic Church. They often used satire to entertain the crowds.

One of the world's self-proclaimed most renowned teachers of bouffon is Sue Morrison, currently Artistic Director of Toronto's Theatre Resource Centre. Her students are featured in Cirque du Soleil, Second City, Blue Man Group, and Slava's Snow Show, and on other international stages. Morrison studied with Richard Pochinko, and became one of his apprentices. Morrison's work combines Native American and European Clowning, Bouffon, Le Jeu, and Improvisation. Her creations have appeared on the Bravo Arts Channel (Burnt Tongue), in New York (Absence of Magic, The Bastard American Show), and in several international documentaries. She is co-creator of the popular bouffon, Red Bastard, and is an advisor and contributor to the New York Clown Theater Festival. Morrison teaches workshops in North America, Europe, and South America.

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