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Workshops (Calgary): Bouffon Performance Workshop – Naked Empire Bouffon Company

The Virgin Trial – Alberta Theatre Projects
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Workshops (Calgary): Bouffon Performance Workshop – Naked Empire Bouffon Company

Naked Empire Bouffon Company is offering their award-winning, week-long Bouffon Intensive, led by Artistic Director, Nathaniel Justiniano. This is a crash course in bouffon performance with the only company in the United States exclusively dedicated to the research and performance of bouffon.

The appetite of the bouffon is singular: To play with what society has to hide. The bouffon doesn’t judge. With a no-holds-barred relationship with the audience, they are a dangerously perceptive fun house mirror of us all. Why? Because it’s fun. The bouffon uses mockery, wit, and parody. They dance beautifully and are grotesquely obscene in the same moment.

Why practice bouffon? To practice facing life head on. To undermine apathy. To acknowledge the tragedies we share, the shame we hide, and the beauty of acceptance. This is an athletic, intensely physical form of comedic performance that demands the in-the-moment engagement of your intellect and imagination. We welcome performers of all skill levels and interests. Actors with limited experience in physical theater or devising are especially encouraged to participate because this work has a powerful impact on one’s freedom and creativity. The poetic dexterity and incisive play that we cultivate in this intensive is immediately applicable to any process involving scripted theater, dance, performance art, activism and beyond.

WHEN: Tuesday May 23 – Saturday May 27 2023
WHERE: Morpheus Rehearsal Centre (3512 – 5th Avenue NW, Calgary)
Register by April 30th: $550 + GST
Register after April 30th: $600 + GST
To register, send etransfer to

Based in Boston, Nathaniel is a queer, Cali-Rican theater artist.

He is the founding Artistic Director of Naked Empire Bouffon Company, which began in San Francisco in 2009 with an activist mission to devise hilarious, cutting, and visually-provocative satires to catalyze urgent discourse. Since then, Naked Empire has toured across the continent with award-winning new works and training intensives becoming North America’s premier bouffon company. Their productions have been awarded Best of the Fringe three times in San Francisco, the Talk of the Fringe Award in Vancouver, the Artist’s Choice Award in Edmonton, as well as Official Selections from the Toronto Festival of Clowns, Vancouver’s Dancing on the Edge Festival, Victoria’s UNOFest, Berkeley’s Blast Festival, Xfest in Edwardsville, Illinois, and Philadelphia’s Cannonball Festival. The company uses bouffon, a rarely-seen form of highly physical and extremely irreverent comedic satire leading the Huffington Post to praise the work as “devilishly dangerous theatre.”
As an actor, he has worked with Shakespeare Orange County, Son of Semele Ensemble, Cornerstone Theater Company, The Dell’Arte Company, Thrillpeddlers, We Players, and Cutting Ball Theater.

As a community advocate, he cut his teeth as a manager for programs out of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, the National Conference for Community & Justice, and Cornerstone Theater Company. His recent advocacy work focuses on social justice in the workplace and in performance pedagogy and is highly influenced by the teachings of ArtEquity’s national facilitator training, Nicole Brewer’s foundational anti-racist theatre training, adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy work, and Claire Warden’s intimacy direction training, among several others. His recent activist performance work is featured in this Howlround series and this American Theater Magazine piece.

Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Comedic Performance at Emerson College and he has served as the Director of Physical Comedy for the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, Movement Designer at UC Berkeley, core faculty of the SF Clown Conservatory, and guest faculty at the Juilliard School.

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