Meeting John Turner, and taking Baby Clown gave me something utterly unexpected. I thought I was taking a course that might help me with the clown show I was working on – and, it most certainly did add depth & breadth to Blind Date, for which I am forever grateful! More importantly though, I left Baby Clown with the keys to my own creative impulses, and a different way of framing them. In short, I walked away with a ‘process’ that can be applied to every kind of creative work I do: writing, directing, acting, character creation, improvisation, and teaching. Baby Clown gave me the training I didn’t know I was missing, and that I was craving deeply.
It’s hard to overestimate the impact training with John has had not only on my career, but my life. He is a skilled leader, insightful mentor, and inspired performer. His thoughtful curation of the work is unique, and his distinctive approach to teaching is filled with authenticity, experience, and much love. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to draw on my foundational training with John, and apply it in a myriad of ways as a writer, actor, and alien.
John is to blame for it all, let that be said off the top.
He taught me clown, and a new way of living in the moment with an audience, and completely altered the course of my career and life because of it.
In the ten years since, I go to John when I need to get the creative juices flowing. His guidance was critical to the early development of my immersive tent-revival Chautauqua (winner: Audience Choice Award, SummerWorks); and across every stage of writing, design, and most importantly, his extraordinary direction, on the Dora Mavor-Moore Award-nominated Distant Early Warning, a radioactive romance.
John’s capacity for play is unparalleled – with his feet in the muck, and his head high in the clouds, he’s prepared to go anywhere with you. He leads with his heart and will help you tune into yours. Even if that path takes you through the darkness, John will be there on the other side, ready to dance together in the light.
He continues to inspire me as an artist, clown, and human.
John Turner is the most transformative teacher I’ve encountered in my 25 years as a theatre instructor. His energy, openness, clarity and warmth light up the room and draw-in even the most resistant students. Students in his classes grow exponentially, and are able to bring the work he teaches into other styles. The principles he teaches give students a strong foundation and huge freedom. I would take his class any day.
I spent three weeks at the Clown Farm in the summer of 2008, and when I look back I can see clearly what I felt then; it was a magical platform that sprang me into a new phase of my life and my work. John’s art is so connected to the most fundamental levels of performance, and has stayed with me every time I step out on stage and look into the darkness. You know in stories, when the protagonist meets an otherworldly guide, a chaotic neutral maiar djinn who takes them through the underworld and safely home again – that’s John. A beautiful human who guides other artists as they step through new disciplines and come out the other side with a greater understanding of the dance between performer and audience. Plus, he laughed at all my jokes, so he’s okay in my book.
John is not only a great performer, he has also been an incredible inspiration to us at Morro and Jasp as both a coach and champion. He manages to bring out the best in us no matter what we are working on, forcing us to think in ways we wouldn’t but at the same time allowing us to be ourselves. He is a rare force in the clown community and we are lucky to have played with him as many times as we have.”
John Turner is a rare gem of a teacher, one that is playful and irreverent yet deeply serious about finding how to nudge each of his students to do their best work. He is supportive, passionate, fastidious and so utterly invested in his work. My experience studying with him has made a deep impact on my performance work and on my life. In fact, after studying with numerous other world-renowned theater and clown teachers, if I had the choice to study again with one of them, I wouldn’t even hesitate – I would return and take another workshop with John. Why? Because his skill is to help his students find the freedom and folly that is their own, and to help them to be truly present with their audiences. These are two things that can be elusive and difficult to teach and yet are at the very essence of the artform of clown. Also John’s teaching honors both the technical and transcendental, magic, qualities of clown while staying humble and down to earth – as a clown should.
Einmal im Leben MUST Du mit John Turner arbeiten.
Wenn Du Dein Leben in Frage stellst – erlaube Dir Baby Clown mit John Turner!
John versteht es immer, persönliche künstlerische und Menschliche Herausforderungen und Vorhaben zu unterstützen und motivierend zu begleiten. Dabei sagt er nicht, wie es richtig zu machen ist. Er spürt hellsichtig und wachsam auf, welche Schritte, Gedanken und Fragen ich angehen kann um eigenständig meine Entwicklung zu machen.
John always knows how to support and motivate personal artistic and human challenges. He doesn’t dictate how to do it right. He senses clairvoyantly and vigilantly which steps, thoughts and questions I can tackle in order to be independent to do my development. By offering a unique seemingly endless amount of experience and knowledge he enables and nourishes his students’ development, by being open to learn and develop himself at the same time. This is what always deeply impressed and inspired me. He also speaks some very important words in German. Did I say he’s funny? Meet him!
John Turner came into my life and ripped the walls off my theatre creations in the best way possible. Up until our meeting, I had been making work with partner in crime Ian Mozdzen with our independent company out of line theatre (Winnipeg). Our provocations were the result of rigorous and provocative experiments that never really considered the audience as a body in the room to listen to. John changed that for us. Training in Pochinko Clown allowed a space for the audience to enter our transgressions and to further cultivate our twisted sense of humour. Furthermore, as I have recently entered the realm of educator, I am inspired by John’s enthusiastic and honest approach to coaching artists – he is a spirit guide that I continue to carry with me.
John creates a unique atmosphere that allowed me as a bourgeoning clown to feel safe enough to take new creative risks. As a facilitator he offers a unique blend of care and comedy zing that allowed me to expand my imagination and renegotiate my relationship to performance.
Working with John at The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance, aka The Clown Farm, remains one of the most creatively inspiring three weeks of my life. John is a gifted teacher who has an incredible way of giving his students permission to ‘fail’, in the best sense of the word. His teaching comes from a place of love and support, which helps the student take ownership of the process in order to find the magic of the clown. Clown work is human being work. Everyone from any walk of life should do this work with John at some point in their life. Oh, and expect to laugh a lot along the way.
I’ve worked with John Turner in many different capacities over the years from my initial training in Clown through Mask, to more advanced trainings in Clowning and Joey and August, this work with John changed my creative career and my life. John is a very compassionate and playful teacher with an incredibly astute eye, he gives you space and guidance to make the discoveries yourself, helping to awaken your “listener” inside, to empower you with new skills and awareness to take into your creative practice. I’ve also collaborated with John on a number of my works, that is not just limited to clown. What I found most rewarding working with John is that he has no ego in your work, he wants to help you find what you want from the work, where your body or soul are leading, where you are excited, where you are a little scared and leaning in to those discoveries. I’d highly recommend this work to anyone interested in Clown or just curious about discovering new aspects of themselves.
John Turner is a prodigious talent. Many people in Canada and across the world know him as ½ of the much-loved and much lauded, multi-award-winning horror clown duo Mump and Smoot.
I have been privileged to know him as a performer, yes, but I have been uniquely privileged to know him as a tremendously gifted teacher, mentor and director.
I have witnessed him blossom as a master teacher when I ran an organization devoted to professional development in the performing arts. I have been one of his (very lucky) students.
I have been both mentored and directed by him – and am eternally grateful for his guidance, wisdom, and extraordinary sense of how to become a clown (read artist). If you ever have the opportunity to work with him, you would be mad to not do it.
Clown training with John Turner is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Not only as an actor, but as a human growing into my most honest, full self. And I was honoured to be training and playing with such big-hearted, hilarious people, who I continue to hold dear.
I met John Turner for the first time in 2014. That was very fortunate for me. I took “Mask and Clown Intensive” (Baby clown) course at the clown farm on Manitoulin Island. Since then I have been to the farm every year and attended workshops with John. One thing I can say for sure is that John is the best teacher I have ever met. He became my role model, mentor and friend.
The work with John changed me as a person and as an artist on many levels. I learned a new approach to being creative and to get in touch with myself. John is a very inspiring teacher who loves his work and the arts. In his teaching he offers humorous and appreciative closeness with an impressive eye for details. He is also very clear in what he is teaching, can convey things very well and is always open to learn new things.
I had my hardest and my best times in his lessons. I learned so many things about my clown, my creativity and about myself. These things are a lifelong gift. John is doing a tremendous work!
Also I started to create a new show with a friend and it was a great gift to have John with us. His view as a director is awesome. He asks the right questions at the right time and helped us to developed our style and our story!
In conclusion: I am very happy and grateful to have met John Turner. He´s the best!
John is such a rare kind of teacher. Super talented and creative in his own right, but still extraordinarily generous and empathetic in the classroom. He gets you to believe in magic while being 100% down to earth. His approach is deeply kind, while still having a devilish sense of humour and play. It’s always clear how committed he is to the work and to maintaining the integrity of the pedagogy, even as he makes tweaks and expands on it. Clown work is inherently vulnerable and emotionally intense, and John creates the ultimate safe and supportive space to do that work, even while keeping it challenging. I tell everyone I work with to go take a class with him
I can say without hesitation that the month I spent studying with John Turner on Manitoulin Island was the most rigorous, profound, engaging and innovative arts training I have ever experienced. I felt my own impulses and context were deeply respected, even as new structures, understandings and capacities were fostered. Specifically, I learned to follow my body through the entire creation process, to resolve seemingly intractable design and performance issues, to challenge and entertain an audience without compromising my own depth, to investigate the edges of my own psyche and to work with dignity and love in ensemble. As a non-clown artist John’s method has been deeply impactful in the refinement of my process and the quality of my performances (and even, surprisingly, in my writing and painting). I cannot recommend this work more highly and will certainly find my way back to John’s mentorship.
I am the senior youth pastor at the Protestant Church of Lower Saxony, which is the biggest Protestant Church in Germany.
Teaching is one of the most essential skills in my profession. Over the decades, I believe I have become quite a good teacher who knows a lot about the art of teaching, and have a keen ability to recognize ‘good’ teaching in others.
I have never met a teacher like John Turner before. He possesses a special knack. His way of teaching is not good, but extraordinary and brilliant. Seemingly done with ease and without effort. But this exactly underlies his mastery.
He is attentive, considerate, and full of humor. His lessons challenge you to broaden your horizon. He is capable of individually teaching every student, fostering their personal qualities. He encourages beginner students and pushes the advanced ones toward their personalized progress.
He is an expert in his discipline and has a vast knowledge at command.
During his lessons, the students are in the foreground – not John Turner. I consider this to be his most vital ability, making him the unmatched teacher and great person he is.
I have learned a lot about clowns’ work, but I have learned way more about pure teaching.
I am grateful for having been his student. John Turner’s method of teaching has had a strong influence on me and my own teaching.
In addition to it, he is an incredible artist who embodies his passion every single moment.
It is a pleasure to work with him.
John Turner introduced me to the pedagogy of Clown and Mask as an artistic practice and helped me over three incredibly challenging and powerful courses to find not only a fuller expression of my clown but also a fuller expression of myself through authentic impulse: rage, anger, grief, irreverence, flow, tenderness, and joy. He holds his students accountable to what they are capable of and gives 200% of his artistic genius and fierce loving presence in return. In my experience, he was celebratory in his witnessing of anything honest that students shared, no matter how taboo, risqué, or bizarre. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders as I churned through the wonder and challenge of a research-creation PhD with a practice and scholarship of clowning at its core. Pure clown-enthusiasm wrapped up in a sass-package with a great big heart at the core. THANK YOU John.
I really had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for Baby Clown. I knew that there was something special in clown work. I experienced that awakening for the first time in theatre school and then realized that whatever bit of that magic was informing my circus work was what was making it special. I knew I needed to dive further into it. I took some workshops with other teachers that were not particularly helpful for me. And then I heard about the Clown Farm and somehow I knew that it was something that I had to do. But the Pochinko work, and the way John teaches it, really opened me up in ways that I was not expecting. I found a whole new imaginative realm to play in and a whole new set of tools that meant that I could create a practice of clowning the way that I practice my other circus skills. When I took Bootcamp those tools were expanded further into the realm of creation in a way that has informed every bit of my artistic practice since – the ways in which I explore, write and create, the ways that I teach, the ways that I play with others, the ways that I warm up, and the ways that I perform – and not just in creating for clown or character-driven pieces, but for everything.
John’s ease and intuition in imparting the work makes it easy to trust both him and it. And that creates a kind of freedom in his classroom that I haven’t found in many other places. The way John guides the students is just the right mix of critical and caring. He pushes, but in a gentle enough way that we don’t put up more walls. John actually gives us space to fail in a way that we can celebrate and learn from it. I think that this is the part that is missing from many other clown teachers, and definitely one of the reasons that kept me coming back to working with him, and will continue to bring me back.
John is such a rare kind of teacher. Super talented and creative in his own right, but still extraordinarily generous and empathetic in the classroom. He gets you to believe in magic while being 100% down to earth. His approach is deeply kind, while still having a devilish sense of humour and play. It’s always clear how committed he is to the work and to maintaining the integrity of the pedagogy, even as he makes tweaks and expands on it. Clown work is inherently vulnerable and emotionally intense, and John creates the ultimate safe and supportive space to do that work, even while keeping it challenging. I tell everyone I work with to go take a class with him. –Donna Oblongata, Theater artist, MFA Towson University
With very little theater or performance background I transported myself across many provinces so that I might immerse myself in the world of clown accompanied by other clown siblings and our master-teacher-papa clown, John Turner. My body and my imagination were taken far afield and brought back safely with plenty of time to process and integrate newly discovered aspects of my Self. The in-person sessions sometimes made my mouth hang open with awe and magic, and I was enjoyably impressed that the online training evoked connection across time and space. I so look forward to being in a room with clowns again in the future!
John Turner is a phenomenal teacher. He is generous, insightful and brings an incredible sense of play to the work. What’s more is John learns with you. He is with you every step of the way, opening himself up to a collaborative learning process while keeping the show running. It is as inspiring to witness as it is to be a part of. John’s love of the work is infectious. His excitement runs through the rehearsal room. I felt safe to explore my creativity and clown in my own way and to think deeply and slowly when I needed to. At the end of the workshop I felt very connected to my own creative process and the work ignited in me a desire to create and explore more. This is what is so powerful about the work and the way that John teaches. John truly cares about his students. Outside of the workshop and in the real world, I still feel like I can contact John for help and mentorship. He creates a space that is fun, important, vulnerable and truthful and has helped me develop a deeper appreciation and knowledge of my own creative process.
I have had the pleasure of knowing John since 2016, when I first became a student of his. Since then, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to work with him both as a student, a colleague and friend. John is the kind of teacher that you’d meet once in a lifetime – he’s exceptionally brilliant, kind, considerate and has a knack for challenging his students in a way that encourages them to step out of their comfort zones (myself included).
During my many weeks working with John, I managed to scribble down some of John’s beautiful and wise quotes into my notebooks and they still remain in my mind, illuminating my very existence. I’ve narrowed down some of my favourites: “Practice patience; Don’t move at the speed of panic.” “What you put out, you pull in, and what you pull in, you put out” “It’s the denial of the impulse that’s hard; it’s allowing the impulse that is easy” and “Find your unique inner blah blah blah.”
John has been a mentor to me in my artistic works such a piece called “The last pig”, in which he guided me in creating a piece that delivered a clear message while also being enjoyable for an audience to watch.
John has supported and encouraged me in my endeavours with such willing generosity and kindness – with this, he has not only inspired me to go forth with confidence, he has also inspired me to offer the kind generosity to others that he has given to me.
Should you have the opportunity to work with John, or to watch him perform – jump at it. He is truly one of a kind.
John Turner is the embodiment of generosity as a performer, teacher, and fellow human! His dynamic and playful presence is captivating to watch onstage. As a teacher, he allows space for exploration while also providing a strong technical framework to guide the students. I always feel safe, supported, and challenged in his class.
John Turner teaches a particular way of being in the world where you learn to create moments of beautiful magic and love where you serve as a conduit of what is honest. John teaches a deeply sacred way of finding the experience of a clown within your body and mind and expressing that in the world.
Working with John has changed my life in more ways that I can list, and probably in more ways than I even know. I first met John when I arrived at The Clown Farm on Manitoulin Island to take a Clown Through Mask (or Baby Clown) workshop. Attendance at the workshop was a gift that I had given to myself after completing my BA Specialized Honours in Theatre at York University. All through my theatre training to that point I had been “clown adjacent”: People around me were trained in clown and, at one point, several of my fellow students even served as Assistant Directors for a clown show at York, directed by Michael Kennard. I heard about all of these adventures, but hadn’t had any clown adventures of my own yet. I wanted a clown adventure.
I strapped camping gear (borrowed from my parents) into a car (borrowed from my parents) and drove approximately 8 hours to Manitoulin Island. When I got out of the car, I hit my head on the car door. That part of the story isn’t really relevant, but it demonstrates how excited and discombobulated I felt to be embarking on this adventure in this beautiful and somewhat unexpected place. After the head bonk, the next thing that happened was that John bounded out of his house and over to me and gave me a big hug. I had arrived. I had been welcomed.
To be honest, I struggled my way through that first clown workshop. I was deeply self-conscious. Aware that the people around me were funnier than I was. More talented. More interesting and mature. Writing that now, those realities don’t bother me at all. But, at the time, they made me feel insecure and out of place. John’s consistent reminders to “stay involved in my own experience” were helpful, but I needed to hear them consistently. There are a lot of moments from that first workshop that I remember with striking clarity, but the most important thing I remember is the way that John moved seamlessly from being gentle and reassuring to being cajoling and silly to being firm and demanding. I needed all of those things, at different times and in different measures, and John seemed to be able to provide each precisely when it was needed: evidence that he does not just teach about the clown’s unique emotional intelligence, but also practices it.
Since that time, John has continued to be a coach, mentor, and friend. Anytime I open my mind to think about clowning, or my mouth to talk about clowning, I recognize the tremendous impact that John has had on me: on my way of seeing and understanding the world. Since I have many years of academic training, I frequently find myself citing John, even when I am just in casual conversation with friends.
John was my primary interviewee for my doctoral research, which resulted in a dissertation entitled “Impossibility Aside: Clowning in the Scholarly Context.” His insights guided me to my own understandings of how the principles of clowning can be used as a framework and practice both on and off stage. Through our conversations, my own abiding interest in understanding and sharing ways that clowning can live beyond the red nose and outside of the performance context has flourished.
Alongside John, I have also learned hard lessons about arts administration, the complexity of the world of arts funding, the process of filling out forms to ensure bureaucratic compliance, and a million other lessons.
John has been a co-author, a co-conspirator, a comforter, a provocateur, a mentor, and a teacher for me. He has taught me a lot about things that he knows a lot about. But, more importantly, through his work and his guidance, I have learned things about myself that no one knew before, and that, perhaps, weren’t even possible before.
Quite simply, there is no way that I would exist in the way that I do, if it weren’t for the paths I’ve traveled with John. For that, he will always have my deepest gratitude and admiration.