a harlequin and a skeleton greet each other while couples embrace in the background under the night sky


Send in the Clowns.


Clowns are one of the most recognizable entertainers in the world; nothing seems simpler than a red nose and a handful of balloons. But clowns break societal norms, providing transgressive entertainment and allowing us to laugh at violent acts and confront our darker natures. This series examines our enjoyment of violent entertainment, the origins and changing nature of clowns, and considers how we can be far more foolish than any performing clown.


Come Join Our Circus.


 Thursdays at 7pm, starting Jan 25, 2024


Dunbar Community Centre

4747 Dunbar St.

$5/lecture or $25/series
Students with valid ID: $2.50/lecture or $12.50/series

all proceeds support the Dunbar Community Centre

 Online Registration begins Dec 5, 7pm

Register in person starting Dec 5, 7pm
Register by phone (604.222.6060) starting Dec 6, 9am

Students must register in person or by phone for discounted price


But where are the clowns?

The Spectacle of Death in the Roman Arena
Jennifer Knapp

The gladiator is an ubiquitous symbol of ancient Rome; movies and TV show us roaring crowds enjoying brutal combat.  Where did this custom originate, was it truly as deadly as popular media suggests, and what role did it play in Roman society?  What can we say about a people who enjoyed such deadly entertainment?

REGISTER FOR Spectacle of Death

Some Unfortunate Cases of Death in the Middle Ages
Niall Christie

People died in a lot of ways in the Middle Ages. To a modern reader, some of these seem strange, hard to believe, and sometimes just outright ridiculous. Join us as we explore some of the weirder (but also entertaining?) demises that occurred during the period.

REGISTER FOR Unfortunate Cases of Death

Send in the clowns.

The Many Faces of Clowns, from Ancient to Modern Times
Erin Robb
Tricksters, jesters, jokers, and fools,
sinister and smiling, playful, or cruel;
Krusty, Bozo, Pennywise too:
It's time to play with many clowns
Before they play with you…

Come celebrate the clown through history, from the sacred performer to harlequined criminal.  This talk will discuss the figure of the clown throughout history and examine fascinating connections with politics, religion, psychology, fashion, medicine, horror, art, and pop culture.

REGISTER FOR The Many Faces of Clowns

"I am grim all day, but I make you laugh at night": Joseph Grimaldi and the English Harlequinade
Kina Cavicchioli

Joseph Grimaldi was a talented performer whose Pantomime antics entertained crowds of theatregoers throughout London for over thirty years.  But his white greasepaint hid depression and mental illness caused by trauma and overwork; he was the only man he could not make laugh.  This talk will explore the complex life of the man who is credited with creating the modern clown.


Don't bother, they're here.

Clownish Misconceptions about Canada's Constitutional Monarchy
Stephen Phillips

Though a keystone of Canadian government, constitutional monarchy is poorly understood.  Misconceptions about the Crown are widely held, including the outlandish idea, most recently expressed by leaders of the "Freedom Convoy," that the Governor General can arbitrarily dismiss the prime minister and take the reins of power.  This lecture will debunk leading myths about Canada's constitutional monarchy and consider how and why they took root in the first place.

REGISTER FOR Clownish Misconceptions

After the Clownery; supporting the Moderate Middle in the face of Extremism
Lealle Ruhl

At present, extremism in many forms is experiencing a moment of strength.  The one common target of extremism is the moderate voice, yet without the 'moderate middle' politics is impossible.  This talk explores how we can support and build the 'moderate middle' and preserve politics.

REGISTER FOR After the Clownery

 All speakers are Langara Faculty

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   Image: Harlequin and Death, by Konstantin Somov, 1907