Magical Fun Letter Sign Up!

Visit Erica's Blog


In the end, everything is a gag.
Charlie Chaplin

A clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast.
Groucho Marx









Ancient Theatre
at Epidavros



Theatre and Clown Facts

Since humans have been on this planet there has always been performance and storytelling. There has also always been a person who looks at society with a unique lens…. With a truthful lens…. A lens which makes the sacred profane and the profane sacred… someone in our society we currently call the Clown. This type of person can be found in many different cultures, traditions and time periods. They may wear different costumes and tell different stories but they are all able to laugh at themselves and challenge the conventional way of being. In China as early as 3000 B.C. there were jesters and clowns in the courts, by 210 B.C. thousands of clowns ands acrobats lived at the court. The Native American Clowns were very powerful teachers.

Here is a very brief description of the Clowns through other time periods and cultures:

This divine trickster is known by the Plain Tribes as Heyokah and Koshari by the Hopi and Pueblo Indians. Heyokah is a sacred trickster who teaches the people through opposites and laughter. One is made to think for themselves through the Heyokah laughing medicine.

Iktomi comes from the Plains, Southwestern and Western Native American Groups. Iktomi has Spider-like characteristics.

Coyote originates form the Great Basin, Plains and California. He is both trickster and culture hero….. witty, clever, obscene, vulgar and thieving.

The Court Jester is the Kings best advisor while also being the Kings very own Fool. While others in the society are afraid to tell the king the truth, the Jester is allowed to point out the king’s foibles and a reality nobody would dare reveal. The Jester’s life was constantly at stake. Often he would be beheaded if the King didn’t think the Jester was funny.

Comes from the Latin word ‘foolus; meaning full of laughing. In the tarot the Fool is portrayed as a man wandering in the sunshine with a knapsack and a dog and he is about to step off of a cliff. Yet, he continues to smile. Perhaps he is smiling because he knows that he will never hit the bottom or maybe he sees everything as an illusion. The Fool is the only unnumbered card in the deck…. He is beyond boundaries.

Shakespeare Clowns
Clowns and burlesques appear in almost all of Shakespeare’s plays: even in the midst of somber scenes he often has unexpected slapstick humor. Falstaff, who appears in four Shakespeare plays, is up to all sorts of debauchery. In King Lear the Fool tells the King he is the Fool and the Fool is smart.

Commedia Dell Arte
16th Century Italy gave birth to the Commedia Dell’Arte, a very physically based theater that used stock characters, masks and improvisation rather than scripted scenarios. Commedia developed out of street performance which was very popular in the middle ages.

The clown as we know it originated in England in 1768 when a man named Philip Astley retired from the Calvary. He began putting on shows centered on horsemanship and trick riding skills. One of his performers, Billie Button, had incredible skill but also clumsy awkwardness that delighted audiences. Button’s popularity grew and Astley enlarged his show and the English word Clown was born as we currently know it. ‘Circus’ means circle and was first used by Charles Hughes, a former member of Astley’s troupe, who formed his own show called the Royal Circus, in 1782.

One of my main passions is the transformative nature of theater. I incorporate this into almost all of my work including clowning, teaching and acting. In ancient Greece theatre was started in 536-532 B.C. by a man named Thespis. He was first a poet but eventually became Greeks first actor. The open air theatre structures in Greece were usually built next to temples. Theatre was used not only as entertainment but also as a type of medicine. Many cultures understood the transformative power of a play. The journey that one goes on internally while witnessing a tragedy or comedy can be quite powerful. Often, these plays were accompanied by ritual.

In 2003 I traveled throughout Greece researching the ancient Greek theaters. I intuitively knew there was wisdom to the tragedies and comedies of ancient Greece that I didn’t yet understand. I knew that entertainment, God and catharsis were all connected and I wanted to find out more.

I visited the following 14 theaters on five different islands and the mainland of Greece. I saw a few different productions at the theatres during its annual summer Hellenistic Festival.

Little Epidavros

Ancient Theatre at Delphi

ASCLEPIOS- The Greek God of healing

Asclepios is known as the Greek God of Healing. There have been over 320 Asklepion healing sanctuaries found by archeologists throughout the Mediterranian world. The principal sanctuary of Asclepios is located at Epidavors. I spent a few weeks researching this incredibly powerful ancient site.

Asclepios’s main healing was through dream healing. Asclepios would come to the sick in their dreams in the form of a snake, a dog or a man and the patients would awake with knowledge of how to heal themselves. The theatre at Epidavros is extraordinary. Seating 14,000 spectators a whisper on the stage could be heard in the back row. I saw a production of The Frogs by Aristophenes while I was there.

The Myth of Asclepios
Asclepios is the son of Apollo and a mortal woman named Koronis. When Koronis was pregnant with Asclepios she had an affair with a mortal man. A crow found this out and told Apollo. Apollo in a fit of rage turned the crow from white to black. This is why the crow is now black. Apollo had his sister Artemis kill Koronis. While Koronis was burning in the funeral pyre Apollo was stricken with regret so he pulled Asclepios out of the womb of his burning mother. Apollo tucked Asclepios into his thigh and brought him to Chiron, also known as the wounded healer, to be raised. Chiron taught Asclepios his knowledge of healing herbs and waters. Apollo passed on his gifts of diagnosis, healing and visionary insight to Asclepios. Athena also gave Asclepios a healing gift. She gave him two vials of blood taken from Medusa. The blood taken from the right side of her body healed, while the blood from the left side of her body slew. Asclepios eventually became the greatest healer in the Mediterranean world. Zeus finally killed Asclepios after he revived someone who had died. After Asclepios’s death his temples and healing sanctuaries grew. Eventually he was made “the God of healing” and brought to Mt. Olympus.

©2009 Erica Sodos  |  Rosy Rosebud the Clown  |  Boulder, Colorado   |  Return to Entrance Page   |   For enchanting magical events: