Philadelphia Fringe Festival Proves Our City Is a Hub for … Clowns


Philadelphia Fringe Festival clowns
"Clown in the Round” by the Philadelphia-based Id Circo Theatre Group.

Philadelphia is a national center for clowns, along with Los Angeles and New York City, as evidenced by this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival, which featured more than 300 performances in dance, music, theater, and film, writes Jane Von Bergen for Billy Penn at WHYY.

“The amount of circus is notable and important,” said Shana Kennedy, executive director of the Circadium School of Contemporary Circus.

The state-licensed professional circus arts school in Mt. Airy hosted more than a dozen acts as part of the festival.

“We’re finally seeing what has been building over the decades,” Kennedy said. “There are a lot of circus artists in Philadelphia.”

The increase of clowns in Philadelphia can be attributed to quintessentially Philadelphian reasons: inexpensive housing, community support, and availability of networks. Additionally, an audience is open to theater that looks different.

“For me, the clown is a mode that doesn’t pretend the audience isn’t there,” said Alexandra Tatarsky, a graduate of Pig Iron School, a University of the Arts affiliate that includes clowning in its curriculum. “The audience is there — and those people make the clown feel a certain way.”

Read more about what makes Philadelphia a national hub for clowns at Billy Penn at WHYY.


The Philadelphia Fringe Festival, which creates artistic experiences across the city, is one of the many things that make our region so unique.

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