International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative

International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative

A Joint Project of the World-Wide Nonverbal Theatres.

International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative

Jef Johnson


International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative
International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative

International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative Network
artistic Coordinator

Jef JohnsonJef Johnson

Jef Johnson

"New York Institute
for Clown and Physical Theatre" (USA)

"Jef Johnson himself is a deft combination of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Jean-Louis Barrault, Jacques Tati and Danny Kaye, all blended into some mad Russian cocktail! I've never seen anything in the theatre that so perfectly synthesized the metaphysical with the purely physical."

(Mark Adams, COM Theatre)

Jef Johnson is a principal clown in the international touring company of SLAVA'S SNOWSHOW. He has performed as clown with Cirque du Soleil, served as Artistic Director for the tour's 2003 stage parody of DRALION in Mexico City, has performed as the featured artist at New York's Downtown Clown Revue and has conducted workshops for The New York Clown Theatre Festival, Camp Broadway, and Snowshow. He directs "Jef Johnson's Clown Lab" in Manhattan. He is founder of the New York Institute for Clown and Physical Theatre.

My philosophy on clown.
(New York Institute for Clown and Physical Theatre)

"Clown resides in the soul. It is a high, inspired, ascended form of acting, of Play. This has been the case through all of history.

Clown is a state of being, born from a drive within the spirit.
Clown is an expression of the core of the being, of the true state of innocent, naive, childish, pure and possibly universal/cosmic/divine spirit. It resides in each of us.

The first step to unlocking the Clown is to stop focusing on "performing" and begin to rediscover the experience of creative Play. Imagination, fantasy and atmosphere are always present in Play and rarely present in "performance."

At our core, we are universally ignorant of complex experience and therefore idiotic, stupid, naive, curious and hungry. In its most fundamental sense, this perspective of Clown describes a primal, sensate, animistic, dynamic being.

This is the base. From this we can further explore specific forms of Clown and Physical Play."


Here are a few lines on my teaching philosophy

(Jef Johnson's Clown Lab and Workshop Series):

"My philosophy for teaching is the same as my philosophy for perfomance. In life - we live, we experience, and so shall we exist in the classroom."

"Relying on experience, models and observation, we explore key impulses and discuss the true life of character, as opposed to the fake life of an actor portraying character by "performing" choreography(blocking) and "reciting" lines. Onstage, too often, we lose Experience. "Performing" is a locked-up condition. The mind is working ahead of the individual's unique, simple, physical, sensate, dynamic discovery."

"My interest is in unlocking the life of the character through physical experience and discovery. The work is focused on perception. How we "think" about what we are actually doing often pollutes the transposition of idea to expression. When we let go, impulse can be identified and better understood. When we return to the base, the idea of "creative play," we can begin to construct meaningful and truthful character."