Our 2009 Instructors (See who's taught at past MiniFests...)

Workshop Instructor: Jango Edwards
JANGO EDWARDS Jango Edwards has dedicated his life to the study of comedy and the art of clown; not a job but a life style; a comic religion which he calls the Church of Grin.

His performing career started in 1973 as a busker in the streets of London. His first company, ‘The Friends Roadshow’ formed in London with Nola Rae, exploded into a theatrical community with bases in London, Amsterdam and Detroit. Over 400 members from around the world have actively participated.

In 1975, after moving to Amsterdam, he gave birth to the internationally renowned ‘Festival of Fools’ which continued annually until 1984 and became the world's first comedy convention of the Nouveau Clowns. It set the foundation and form for a new trend in comic festivals; an annual gathering of a clown tribe, where all performed, taught and exchanged the secrets to a new direction and the rebirth of an all but lost tradition.

As a performer his talents and skills are in continuous development; mime, dance, juggling, stunts, composer, playwright, author, magician, actor, choreographer, teacher, producer and director.

He has created and toured more than 20 of his own shows, from solo performances with a pianist, to musical extravaganzas with 6 performers and an 8 piece rock and roll band. He has directed more than 50 shows for other clown comedians and groups. During the 80’s and 90’s he had a performing tour schedule of more than 200 performances a year. In theaters, concert halls, stadiums, music clubs, open-air festivals and venues as diverse as an amphitheater in the Sahara desert, Notre Dam Cathedral, the Ronald McDonald Comedy Awards, the International Banking Conference of Switzerland, a nudist beach, half-time at a football match, the Olympic Village in Barcelona and a bathroom at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes. His devout fans include Salvador Dali, The Queen of Holland, the Chancellor of Germany, Catherine Denueve, Fedrico Fellini, Francis Ford Copola, Xavier Hollander and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few.

Jango has released four albums, two video complications, published two books, and as well as numerous appearances in other people's films, has co-produced and starred in his own. He has scripted, directed and performed in different live productions including musicals, plays, TV shows and street animations. He directed the Netherlands National Ballet for a Royal Performance and is often employed as a comedy consultant. In 2000 Jango joined Circus Roncalli and spent one whole year performing in the circus. Jango has a masters degree as a Doctor of the Academy of Fools at the University of Moscow.

In 2004 he moved to Barcelona and at the International Forum Festival he created The Fools Militia, a team of clown actors to create large scale clown performances and animations.

From this he developed a special World Clown Theater Series at the a href="http://www.almazen.net/">Almazen Theater where each week international clown artists to present their productions and where every Saturday night he writes, directs and performs with selected guest artists at the ‘Cabaret Cabron’. During the first 2 years of 'Cabaret Cabron' and with the cooperation of over 100 clown artists he wrote, directed and performed ove 100 different productions.

He is artistic director of ‘Monsters of Comedy Festival’ in Rome and is running training programs for Clinic Clowns, Clown Doctors and Doctors with Red Noses. In 2005 he was a participant in the reality TV show on TF1 ‘Celebrity Farm’. He continues to teach, direct, advise, produce and assist the next generation performers in the global clown community.

"Perform anywhere, for anyone, at anytime."

“A man is born a clown and can become a clown again, if he is able to remember everything that he has forgotten. Luckily, this applies equally to women.” “My private life and public life are constantly intertwined. When I play the clown, I am the clown and vice versa. And remember, that clowns are lot of laughs, but bad in bed.”

"Comic Formula" - "Comic Formulas" is a foundation seminar on the elementary principles of the working comic concepts of how a gag and or sketch works. The content includes the elements of 3 gag routines, repetitive comic activity, physical and visual humor, the black and white frame for sketch creation, comic timing and rhythm. Clown is the greatest actor in the world and is able to perform anywhere, anytime in every situation. Jango has tutored numerous actors in the past which assisted in their personal and artistic success. El Tricicle, Loco Brusca, Alex Navaro, Nina Hagen, Grace Jones, Slava Polunin, Venessa Redgrave, Le Nuls, Peter Shub, Sanitago Segura and Mario Gas are but a few of his prior students.

As a Clown Performer you will work with other professionals in an ensemble; relate to the audience in unpredictable and spontaneous situations and learn how to improvise and adapt in order to give the gift of laughter to an unsuspecting public. You will explore the role of the comic actor as a social warrior, laughter terrorist and mercenary of humor. “The world is a stage and each must play his part” might seem a cliché to some people but for the clown it is the truth.

Workshop Instructor: Mark Jaster

The Washington Post called Mark Jaster a "clown extraordinaire and one of the most graceful performers you will ever see on a stage." The Baltimore Sun called him “immensely gifted.” Audiences of all ages and backgrounds have enjoyed his kinetic humor, playful interaction, musical wit and inventive imagination. Mark studied with 20th-century masters Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux. He served as teaching assistant to Mr. Marceau in a series of seminars in Michigan, and teaches frequently in artist residencies, theatres, and dance programs. He has also studied Clown with LeCoq protégée Dody DiSanto at The Centre for Movement Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Jaster as A Fool Named ‘O’ has been a featured stage act at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for over 20 years. With that show and two others, Piccolo’s Trunk and The Maestro, Jaster has had a long career touring to countless venues (Wolftrap’s Theater in-the-Woods, the Philadelphia International Children’s Festival, The Cincinnati Playhouse, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, etc.). His solo performances combine live music on unusual instruments and non-instruments, outrageous acrobatics, and hyper-advanced communication skills with an honest, gentle humor.

In addition to annual appearances as Herr Drosselmeyer in the Maryland Youth Ballet's Nutcracker, frequent performances with the Washington Revels, and those many years at The Maryland Renaissance Festival, he also collaborates regularly with world-class musicians like Piffaro, Celtic Harper Sue Richards, Hesperus, and the late, great jazz bassist, Keter Betts. Mark is a proud member of The Big Apple Circus' Clown Care Program, performing as “Dr. Baldy” at the Children's National Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

In January, ’07, he created a new show with his wife and partner, Sabrina Mandell, The Seven Ages of Mime, for an extended, sold-out run at the Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. The Washington Post’s review said, “Jaster’s sturdy body, like Chaplin’s and like Marcel Marceau’s…is a jeweler’s tool, adroit and precise…each athletic movement is exquisitely controlled…” Their company, Happenstance Theater, has since produced a series of popular hits:

    Prufbox, which opened at the first Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C., went on to tour with the Joseph Cornell exhibit from The National Museum of American Art to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.
    Low Tide Hotel was a hit at the next Capital Fringe, next toured to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, and will appear with its companion piece, FarFar Oasis at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in March, 2010.
    Manifesto!, a hit at the 2008 Capital Fringe Festival, went on to an enthusiastic reception at the 2008 N.Y. Clown Theater Festival.

Their latest piece, Cabaret CooCoo, was voted Best Comedy of the Capital Fringe Festival for 2009. It features Mark in the vaudeville-style singing duo, “Diz and Izzy Aster” (“who bring their baggage to the stage in cheery songs from the Great Depression”) as well as his musical saw.

Their next work, Look Out Below!, is a clown duo plus musician which will run for 3 weeks in December, 2009 at the Round House Theatre, Bethesda. The great European Clown teacher and director Ami Hattab has worked with them on its development.

Mark has co-created, co-directed and appeared in all these original works, which feature his musical, acrobatic, creative and comic and mimetic skills, and for which he also built sets and prop pieces, including cookie-tin footlights of which he is especially proud.

"Elements and Techniques of Physical Comedy" - Take time to isolate and explore elements and techniques you use perhaps without even thinking: stillness, muscularity, tension, focus, projection, character centers and silhouettes, reactions, (e.g., slow-burn, takes, double and triple-takes), the split-will, rhythmic variation, timing with the audience, clarity of intention. We’ll open the physical tool box, see and sharpen what’s there, find and fill in what’s missing.

Even More Info at HappenstanceTheater.com

Workshop Documents: