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Le Festival des Clowns de Montreal

The Montreal Clowns Festival

About the project

The Montreal Clown Festival/ Le Festival des Clowns de Montréal! The lovers of laughter, we are passionate gatherers of fools.

From ecstasy to agony, with noses and without, clowning is about more than just getting a laugh. Richard Pochinko, Canadian clown and educator said, "Clowning involves taking what you need to express and stretching it to its most extreme possibility.” 

We are entering our 4th annual festival at Mainline Theatre this upcoming September 18-22, 2019. This year, we feature over 13 diverse companies from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Maine, and California.

OUR GOAL is to showcase artists both local and abroad, creating a link to communities of Clowns throughout the world. 

THE FESTIVAL The MTL Clowns mandate is to educate and forward the craft of clown, to nurture and showcase the art of theatrical clown, as well as to celebrate the history of clown, and to foster clown community in Montreal and beyond, by producing the annual Festival des Clowns de Montréal. 

Founded in 2016, in Canada's circus capital, Montréal, MTL Clowns creates opportunities for all levels of performers to present original works that fall under the Clown, Bouffon or Physical Theatre spectrums, primarily by producing the annual Festival des Clowns de Montreal. Our goal is to showcase local, national and international clown artists, creating links to Montreal with clown communities throughout the world. The festival is designed to create opportunities for emerging artists and professional artists to meet, experiment, perform, and exchange clown practices. 

We welcome performers of all genders, cultures and identities. We are dedicated to cultivating a bilingual, multicultural program, welcoming French, English and also nonsensical clown language. Currently associated with MainLine Theatre, the Montreal Clown Festival offers unique performance opportunities for clowns to apply for and offers workshops, panel discussions and special events for the public to participate in.


Photo Credit: Kathy Slamen

Performer: Mélanie Raymond in Les Zoubliettes (2018)

WHAT IS CLOWN and WHY DO WE NEED IT? The big question, we might say! Many people who have not been exposed to Clown might associate it with big colorful wigs, red noses, and lots of 'scary' make-up. Recently clowns have not been well depitcted in popular media. However, those of us who have fallen in love with it know that it is a powerful, gratifying experience.

Professional and non-professional clowns describe the experience of doing it as one of the riskiest. The clown is in the most raw, the most naked and vulnerable, the most truthful with the audience compared to any other form of live performance. Central to the MTL Festival of Clowns is that our performances push the boundaries of clown genres engaging the audience in new and dynamic ways. Clown challenges audiences to react and participate in the story or situation of the character on stage. The audience is not passive, it is active, and therefore becomes part of our community in the performance itself. Come see for yourself. You'll be surprised!

Photo Credit: Kathy Slamen

Performers: Josianne Proteau, Maxine Segalowitz and Eric Ménard in Les Dancing Queens (2018)

The Montreal Festival of Clowns/ Le Festival des Clowns de Montréal is a destination for many clown based performers in Canada and abroad. Clown is everything from red noses, to mime, to physical comedy, to bouffon, and many other traditions. It is a style of performance that doesn't quite fit into many categories of performance festivals. You might see clown as part of an experimental theatre festival or you might see it as part of a circus festival. In fact, clowns are often trying to squeeze their art form into the confines of other types of performance festivals. That is why we wanted to create a festival dedicated solely to presenting Clown based performance. Many Clown performers search desparately for places to show their original shows. The MTL Festival of Clowns is one of the only speficially clown based festivals in North America. Why wouldn't Montreal, the hub for the arts in Canada, be a destination for clown creators?

CHALLENGES: Mainline Theatre (home of the St. Ambroise Festival de Fringe de Montréal) has continued to be a great partner and our venue for our festival. As with all arts festivals, we struggle to cover the costs of presenting these amazing artists. Every artist, pouring their hearts and souls into each show deserves to be paid for their work. It's no laughing matter! We work tirelessly to hone our craft as clowns and your support helps make it possible for us to keep doing what we do, moving you, our audiences.  

Photo Credit: Kathy Slamen

Performer: Zita Nyarady in Ralph (2018)

What are the funds for?

As a new festival in Montreal, we are raising funds to ensure the festival's success and future endeavors.

2019 marks our 4th annual festival at Mainline Theatre. Since it's inception, the Montreal Festival of Clowns has been organized by a dedicated team of volunteers. We are artists, producers, and clown enthusiasts working hard to make Montreal a hub for clown focused performance. Your donations can help make this a reality!


  • To pay our organizing staff, a team of approximately 10 people
  • To offer our performing artists a standard fee for their performances in addition to a cut of the box office sales
  • To help cover the travel costs of our out-of-town perfomers 
  • To hire a professional photographer/videographer to help us document the festival best​

Photo Credit: Kathy Slamen

Performer: Contestant in the Grand Imbecile talent contest (2018)

Within the mandate of this festival, we are engaging clown performers from outside of Montreal to be a part of the festival. At this time, we do not have funds to help cover costs for visiting artists who will be giving their talents to the festival. As a festival that supports artists and their creations, this is of utmost importance to us. 

As we apply for funding from major arts organizations, it will be very important for us to create a strong visual identity. Your donations can help us cover costs to hire a professional photographer/videographer. Make us look good!

8% of your donations include the ULELE commission. 

About the project owner

Join us at the 4th annual Festival des Clowns de Montreal from September 18-22, 2019 at MainLine Theatre, Montreal!

The Montreal Clown Festival has invited 13 professional and emerging artists from Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Maine, and to perform at MainLine Theatre from September 19th to 22nd 2019. The festival program includes clown shows, a showcase of local talent in the form of a clown competition, an Artist Talk, a pie throwing contest and several free special events. The festival culminates with a Closing Cabaret.

WHO ARE WE? The company MTL CLOWN FEST, founded in 2016 by Kendall Savage, Vanessa Rigaux, and Sebastien Duval, is supported by a vibrant volunteer committee that has set itself the mandate to produce an annual festival and to promote the ancestral art of clown and its diversity.

Photo Credit: Kathy Slamen --Photo of our artistic directors Kendall Savage (left) and Vanessa Rigaux (right) 

The organizers of this festival are a rag-tag group of volunteers. We are performers, clowns, administrators, and community engagers. We have come together with the mutual desire to see our community grow, providing a platform where quality clown performers can show their work and where audiences can be exposed to a wide variety of performances. 

See a little more about last year's festival 2018 from our exclusive interview on Global News Montreal. https://globalnews.ca/video/4445579/clowns-take-over-montreal

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