Medical Clowning: An Embodiment of Transgressive Play

Matthew Allen Wilson


“Medical clowns” are part of a growing field conducting play encounters in hospitals throughout the global community. One intention for a medical clown encounter with a pediatric patient is empowerment, or restoration of agency. This paper explores these encounters through the lens of performance studies, play theory, and the author’s personal praxis as a medical clown to investigate the impact on the multiple audiences involved in a hospital encounter: patient, family, and staff. Medical clown encounters evoke Bernie De Koven’s notions of a “well-played game” and “play community,” and warrant further research to ascertain the impact beyond the initial encounter. 


medical clown; well-played game; play community

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