Bouffon Intensive with Naked Empire Bouffon Company

Posted on Jun 9, 2015


Questions? gm [at] tomorrowcollective [dot] com

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Register by June 26 $275/$225 for members
General Price $300/$250 for members


Payment methods: cash, cheque (payable to The Tomorrow Collective) or credit card
Member discount for CADA/West, GVPTA, Equity, UBCP/ACTRA members


The Tomorrow Collective/Brief Encounters is pleased to present Nathaniel Justiniano’s award-winning, weekend-long Bouffon Intensive. 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. Nathaniel’s last visit to Vancouver saw an award-winning run of YOU KILLED HAMLET at the Vancouver Fringe Festival and an unforgettable pairing with Karen Jamieson as part of Brief Encounters 20. You can see him and Jamieson work together again in The Trickster on July 7th and 9th at the Dancing on the Edge Festival.

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.

If this resonates with you, we would love for you to join us.


  • Finding your personal bouffon
  • Entering into and creating within a state of ecstatic play
  • Choral, movement-based improvization
  • Mercurial acting techniques for shape-shifting between characters of heightened text and grace to those of base, groveling goblin prophets
  • Audacious and confrontational status play with the audience
  • Wielding stillness and silence like a scapel
  • Parodying social maladies and hypocrisies
  • Ramshackle techniques for on-the-fly costume creation


volume20Nathaniel Justiniano is an actor/creator and teacher, as well as the founder of Naked Empire Bouffon Company. His satirical performances are outrageous comedies derived from today’s tragedies. In 2007, under the direction of Master Teacher Giovanni Fusetti, he co-created PAX AMERICANA, a satire of war as seen through the lens of United States history and EUOI!, a bouffon experiment in ecstatic ritual. In 2009 he led the creation of SHAME!, Naked Empire’s skewering of the San Francisco queer community.  His one-man show, COUSIN CRUELTY’S COMPULSION, addresses the use of institutional violence in society and was one of the offerings in the 2011 International Home Theatre Festival, as well as the subject of a feature column in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Throughout 2012 and 2013, he co-created and performed in YOU KILLED HAMLET, a satire about avoiding death which won critical acclaim, the San Francisco Best of the Fringe Award, the Vancouver/Plank Magazine Talk of the Fringe Award, a nomination for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight Critic’s Pick Award, and was an Official Selection of the Toronto Festival of Clowns. Most recently, he directed and co-created MY FELLOW ‘MERICANS, a bouffon duet that shines an unflattering light on the American Dream. He also teaches bouffon workshops in the US and Canada for which he was honored with the SF Bay Guardian’s BEST OF THE BAY AWARD for BEST ROMP WITH YOUR INNER PSYCHOPATH. He is on the faculty of the Clown Conservatory of San Francisco and was the director of the 7-week Bouffon Intensive, the most comprehensive bouffon training ever offered in the United States. Currently, Naked Empire is developing a monthly late-night show featuring the Bay Area’s most subversive physical comedians, as well as a one-person bouffon show celebrating class privilege which will tour internationally in 2016. He holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Chapman University and an MFA in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.


If, with at least one week’s notice, you need to cancel your registration for any reason, please note that The Tomorrow Collective will retain $75 of your original purchase as a non-refundable deposit. Cancellations made less than one week before the first day of the intensive will not be refunded.


Friday, July 3, 6p – 10p
Saturday, July 4, 10a – 6p
Sunday, July 5, 10a – 6p

Progress Lab 1422 (1422 William Street)