Some friends of mine, Aryn and Tony, are sponsoring their friend Jef Johnson, a professional clown (formerly of Cirque de Soleil, among others) and performance theorist, so that he can run a workshop in Middletown, Connecticut at the Buttonwood Tree. This is just down the street from where I live, and I’m hoping to be able to go, myself. There’s a (free!) lecture on Thursday, and then there are workshop sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that will help you be a better performer, public speaker and leader.
I’ve been to two of his lectures to date, and I’ve watched him explain and show an audience how to physically move and shape one’s body to become a hunchback, a homeless person, a cripple. I’ve seen him use only gesture and mannerism to change gender identity rapidly, and I’ve watched him observe an audience so closely that he was able to become what individual audience members most feared. If you go to the Thursday night lecture (8pm at the Buttonwood Tree), you’ll find that it’s not so much a lecture about performance theory, as a demonstration that the lines between theory and practice and performance are not so easily defined.
I’m told that the workshop is similarly intense, and deeply useful. I’ve yet to meet anyone that wasn’t somehow affected on deep levels by the way he teaches you about your own abilities as a performer. In any case, I’m recommending him to teachers I know, for the lecture at least. If you’re within driving distance of Middletown, Connecticut, come see Jef Johnson on December 16, 2011 at the Buttonwood Tree.