Course Descriptions 2018

All courses at The Conservatory are “stand alone” courses, are repeatable, and need not be taken in sequence provided the individual course prerequisites are met. However, the workshop schedule is created with a specific progression in mind for the student wishing to do the entire program, or multiple segments in one summer.

For example, the Dancing Clown, Advanced Boot Camp, and Prop and Set Workshop are all offered and can be experienced as individual workshops. However, to encourage treating all three as an intensive all round creation and performance workshop with two public performances at the end we are offering a $100.00 discount for students taking all three together. The cost would then be $1,050.00 + $136.50 HST = $1,186.50 with the dates being August 3-18.

Work in the realms of creativity, clown, and theatre can be very demanding on many levels for the individual student. The Northern Ontario environment within which the Conservatory is situated, is ideal in many ways, often easing the impact these explorations can carry and securing a sense of balance, peace and space supporting and enhancing a more profound experience. It is also remote and intimate for students and teachers alike. With this and the welfare of all involved in mind a deep level of professional and personal respect is strongly encouraged. Consultations and evaluations will be conducted at regular intervals to confirm the suitability of continuing study for those students applying for multiple sequential courses or for the full program.

Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown) – John Turner

1. Saturday, June 23 – Sunday, July 8, 2018
2. Saturday, August 18 – Sunday, September 2, 2018
$1150.00 + $149.50 HST = $1299.50
100+ hrs. Max 22 students

The second workshop is currently full! But we do have a waiting list, so please contact us if you are interested.


This course is based on the work of Canadian Clown Master Richard Pochinko and has been named many things: From Mask to Clown, Clown Through Mask, or The Baby Clown Workshop (the student’s clown is born at the end).

In this workshop students begin with a focus on listening. The initial exercises are used to awaken and encourage a sense of pleasure, an awareness of the audience, and an honest physical and emotional response to internal impulses and external events. Many exercises are done with eyes closed to help exercise and expand the student’s experience of perception and focus. The body (through specific movement exercises) is approached as a source of visualization for character or story elements through improvisations that include a great deal of work with colors.

Once the color work is done the students are ready for the making and wearing of six masks. This is an involved process of physicalization and visualization, exploring the innocence and experience of each mask and the relationships between them. The masks are guideposts to the student’s creative playground and as such are also the guideposts to his/her clown. With each mask the student prepares a short turn (sketch) to express the essence of the mask without the use of verbal language. Through these turns and the exercises of the entire workshop the rules of clown emerge giving the student a fundamental understanding of clown and a deeper experience of the elements at play in any performance situation. This workshop is an intense blast and furnishes the student with multiple characters and a malleable structure for continued creative exploration with limitless applications. It is not necessary to be a performer to take this course. All are welcome, from all walks of life. 

Boot Camp  – John Turner

From Baby to the Stage

1. Wednesday, July 11 – Monday, July 16, 2018
2. Wednesday, September 5 – Monday, September 10, 2018
$600.00 + $78.00 HST = $678.00
50 hrs. Max. 16 students
(New! We are now running Boot Camp twice! Those of you registering for the second Baby Clown might want to consider staying on for the September Boot Camp. We've also added an extra day to the course, which was previously 5 days, and is now 6 days. Same fee!)


Prerequisite: Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown)

This workshop is the next stage of exploration after Baby Clown. Using various writing and development techniques and exercises to evoke both left and right brain involvement, the participants explore their own unique approach to the creation of material and performance. The mask and colour work is expanded upon (including the establishment of the gesture work) to deepen the student’s relationship with them as both a source for material and as character for performance. 

This workshop is perfect for those coming fresh out of The Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown) or for those who seek to reacquaint themselves with the foundations of this style. The 6 days will begin with an emphasis on exploration and creation but will move towards the development of pieces for performance.

 Students should be aware they will be extremely challenged and while it is not necessary to bring a prepared piece they will be welcome to do so.

Joey and Auguste – Michael Kennard & John Turner

Thursday, July 19 – Thursday, July 26, 2018
$650.00 + $84.50 HST = $734.50
55 hrs. Max. 20 students

Prerequisite: Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown) and Boot Camp 1 (or equivalent)


Begin to explore the exquisite dynamics of two and three clown relationships. Also referred to as the manipulator (Joey), the victim (Auguste), and the perfect balance between the two (Ringmaster), this workshop begins with the discovery of each archetype within the individual. Then each student has the opportunity to bring them out to engage with their complimentary counterparts in the external world. This workshop is done primarily working in partnership with another performer. It is not necessary to bring a partner and if you do it is still recommended students work with several different students during the workshop. There will be two public performances at the end of this workshop.

Voice for Clowns – Fides Krucker

Thursday, June 14 – Tuesday, June 19, 2018
$600.00 + 78.00 HST = $678.00
40 hrs. Max. 16 students


“Singing is not polite – it is messy and deeply human.”

Breath and voice are seated deep in the autonomic nervous system. They reveal impulse transparently because they are designed to betray us, to communicate effectively. And, they are deeply creative.

Singing offers a chance to slow down and get out of the way. Simple breath and sound exercises connect us to this deeply felt — but unseen — part of the body. Singing offers tools to explore the voice without prejudice – once we realize how open-minded non-verbal sound can be. A long tone is a way to look at mad, sad and glad. A song helps us mine and experience emotion.

As breath and voice free so does range, flexibility and creative impulse. As it integrates, the artist experiences greater simplicity and directness of communication. All of the textures found in a sung tone or song can be amplified and taken back into other non-verbal forms of expression. It is natural and fun — an ability humans are born with.

This week long course is for singers and non singers alike. My experience as an interdisciplinary performer and my own early training at the Banff Centre’s Music Theatre Studio Ensemble with clown pedagogue David MacMurray Smith means I have worked with all sorts of artists. I feel a particular affinity for clowns!

Over the week you will deepen your relationship to breath and voice, reclaim the parts you have successfully shut off for a variety of reasonable reasons. We will embrace less reason and more sense! Close to nature we will engage with your true nature – what is inside. The simple breath and vocal frames I use will take you into a trustworthy connection with yourself and your voice. On the 6th and final day of the workshop John Turner will join Fides to extend and deepen the discoveries of the previous 5 days into the specific worlds of mask, colour and clown.

Please bring a song to this voice intensive. It should be something that you love – that when you listen to it or sing it the experience makes you want to weep, or jump for joy, or honour your desires. I would like sheet music for it as well. We can have email conversation to sort out these details in the weeks leading up to our time north. You need to know one verse and one chorus by heart. Get ready to be surprised!

Body Wilderness – Fiona Griffiths

Saturday, July 28 – Wednesday, August 1, 2018
$400.00 + 52.00 HST = $452.00
40 hrs. Max. 16 students


All performers (clowns and otherwise) need access to the sensory, feeling and intuitive bodies to augment interpretation, amplify authenticity, increase performance range and nurture artistic growth. This course will consist of a fun and eclectic mix of techniques to deepen the commitment to the character/clown and source new material for performance. As the student explores their creativity using the body, mind and emotions as instruments of expressive skills (peeling away layers of physical and emotional tension); the body relaxes, listening improves, and personal ways of moving are revealed. Intuitive responses to impulses can then be explored and embodied, leading to a greater sense of the self in motion. We can then take the self into the character/clown and with greater freedom discover their hearts desire, wisdom and vision. This workshop is also designed with the consolidation of the work done in The Mask and Clown Intensive and Boot Camp 1 in mind, and offers a natural transition to the more advanced courses. This year Fiona will return with exciting new work from her summer sabbatical with SITI Company, Movement Research and Body Mind Balls. So be prepared for added explorations into Viewpoints, Suzuki, Kinetics and using movement as the question and the answer.

Dancing Clown – Grindl Kuchirka

Friday, August 3 – Monday, August 6, 2018
$350.00 + $45.50 HST = $395.50
35 hrs. Max. 16 students

This workshop is highly recommended as a lead-up to Advanced Boot Camp! Please refer to the Advanced Boot Camp description below for more details about a special rate if you wish to take Dancing Clown, Prop & Set Workshop and Advanced Boot Camp together.


The Dancing Clown workshop brings greater depth to your acting plus a richer soulfulness to your dancing. This workshop is created for clowns, dancers, actors, directors, musicians and movement artists. Dance experience is NOT necessary!
At the heart of the Dancing Clown workshop:

  • Experience the essence of clown, and the simplicity of expressing comedy through movement.
  • Discover how movement can amplify humour, and what lies behind that elusive quality called timing.
  • Explore classical, modern, jazz and free dance, choreography, improvisation and pedestrian movement.
  • Focus on anatomy and learn where the impulse of movement comes from.
  • Work with breath and being present. 

By playing with the archetypal roles of the clown throughout history – from romantic poetry to modern tragedy – we will rediscover the many dances of the clown from profound sadness to uninhibited hilarity, all while having a riotous bunch of fun!

Prop & Set Workshop: Simple Ways to Build a World – Sonja Rainey

Sunday, August 12 & Monday, August 13, 2018
$100.00 + $13.00 HST = $113.00
20 hrs. Max. 16 students

This workshop is highly recommended in conjunction with Advanced Bootcamp! Please refer to the Advanced Boot Camp description below for more details about a special rate if you wish to take Dancing Clown, Prop & Set Workshop and Advanced Boot Camp together.


Sonja Rainey continues the set and prop building extravaganza that Beth Nixon of Ramshackle Enterprises kicked off in 2015. In this hands-on intensive, participants will learn cardboard sculpting techniques and engage in the transformation of "trash" into sets, props and costume elements. Participants will learn safe tool use, methods for creating quicky 3-D structures, and ways to incorporate found objects (from both the local waste stream and the local forest) into functional scenery. Collaboration on projects is encouraged, with the goal of creating objects that participants can use in their Advanced Boot Camp work. All tools and materials will be provided, no experience necessary.

Advanced Boot Camp – John Turner, Calvin Petersen, Jenny Hazelton

Thursday, August 9 – Saturday, August 18, 2018
$700.00 + $91.00 HST = $791.00
60 hrs. Max. 12 students

Prerequisite: Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown) and Boot Camp 1 (or equivalent).


This workshop will continue with the work begun in Boot Camp 1 with a stronger emphasis on the development and execution of professional work. Each day will consist of a minimum of 3 hours focused on creation, and 3 hours focused on performance. There will be many additional hours for exercises, discussions, and the exploration of themes that arise out of the classes.

 Students will be able and encouraged to explore a broader application of the clown work including but not limited to spoken text, song, dance, bouffon, Joey & Auguste and a synthesis of any of the above. If students have any specific desires for this workshop they should feel free to begin a conversation on the subject at any point after application. Students should be aware they will be extremely challenged and are to bring 2 short prepared pieces in addition to other work to be discussed after registration. 

Advanced Boot Camp Special:
Friday, August 3 – Saturday, August 18, 2018
$1,050.00 + $136.50 HST = $1,186.50
($100.00 discount before tax)
115 hrs.


We strongly recommend taking Dancing Clown, Prop & Set and Advanced Boot Camp together. This makes a fantastic all-round creation and performance workshop. At the end of the intensive, two public performances (with supportive audiences) bring the whole experience to a fulfilling conclusion.

Whole Summer Immersion Special

Saturday, June 23 – Saturday, August 18, 2018
$3650.00 + $474.50 HST = $4124.50
($300.00 discount before tax)
360 hrs.


Mask & Clown Intensive, Boot Camp 1, Joey & Auguste, Body Wilderness, Dancing Clown, Props & Set, Advanced Boot Camp. Immerse yourself in an incredible experience by enrolling for the whole summer.

Neo Bouffon – Karen Hines

Dates 2019 TBA
30 hrs. Max. 16 students

Prerequisite: Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown) and Boot Camp 1 (or equivalent)


This popular workshop is inspired by Karen Hines' brilliant and provocative approach to Bouffon.

In Paris and London and around the world, master teacher Philippe Gaulier teaches a style of performance known as "bouffon," characterized by the use of physical affliction (humps, etc.) in combination with parody to achieve a highly theatrical effect. This performance style finds its roots in medieval Europe, though the lore stretches into timeless and universal territory.

"NEO-BOUFFON" is Karen Hines's Canadian response to the work: firmly rooted in the lessons of Parisian master Gaulier, but focused on finding new ways to apply the essential elements of bouffon within the context of contemporary North American culture.

Through the exploration of the basic foundations of bouffon, plus in-class creation, the work encourages a comedically-oriented dissection of societal maladies and afflictions. This course aims to wring laughter from unsettling aspects of contemporary culture, in the name of timely, responsible, thoughtful approaches to parody, high performance, great entertainment and killer content.

This course is designed for writers, designers and directors as much as it is for performers: much of the course is geared toward strategies for creation and development of material. Course content and exercises are challenging, often involving the realms of religion, sex and politics, and are not for the faint of heart. The work entails an unflinching look at the darker side of the human potential.

Baby Clown: The Teacher's Perspective – John Turner

Dates 2018 TBA
Enrollment limited


This workshop is a week long seminar exploring the Baby Clown Workshop from the teacher’s perspective. It is intended as an in depth look at all aspects of the work including the experience of both student and teacher and their relationship throughout. All the exercises and games will be conducted including Walking To The Wall, Something Fantastic, Making Contact, Looking For A Feeling, Walking A Colour, Making and Wearing a Mask. After each exercise all aspects of the process will be discussed at length. There will also be extensive exploration and discussion of The Clown Rules and their application.

While this is a profound inside look at all aspects of conducting a Baby Clown Workshop it should not be seen as a comprehensive “Teacher Training”. There is much more involved in that process. But it is a beginning.

Prerequisite: As a minimum students should have completed The Mask and Clown Intensive (Baby Clown) and Boot Camp 1 or equivalent. Applicants should include a discussion of their aspirations in regards to this work with their resumé. Enrollment is extremely limited.

Cost: This workshop is seen as a “giving back” to the community and therefore has a “Pay-What-You-Can” approach to the fee. As a suggestive guideline however, students might consider up to $500 + HST as a maximum.


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