Taina Mäki-Iso

Theatre director, teacher and clown

I’ve dreamed about writing a book about clowning for a long time. My plan is to write a non-fiction book that incorporates the personal perspective of the artist, i.e. me and provides experiential knowledge for professionals and enthusiasts interested in clowning. A strong presence, spontaneous interaction, the necessity of risk-taking and, essentially, the possibility of screwing it up when creating or learning something new affect not only clowns but each and every one of us. These are some of the things I want to expand on for the benefit of a wider readership.

My writing project is in its early stages; I’m very excited and a little scared. I keep wondering, what have I got myself into?  This is an experience clowns know very well. That’s why I’m going to be brave like a clown and throw myself into it – with the Saari Residence’s support, of course! During my residency, I plan to read the notes I’ve written and reflect on them, write about my clown performances and, above all, put into words my silent knowledge of clowning. This means I’m probably going to be talking to myself a lot. I’m also really looking forward to exchanging ideas with the other residents.

This summer I read a lot of literature on clowning, both books I was already familiar with and new ones, to provide me with a basis for my writing. If I struggle to get anything on paper in November and December, I can continue doing this. The knowledge that I can continue my writing next year with the grant provided by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland sets my mind at rest. It means I don’t have to try and finish my book in two months. The opportunity to focus and delve deeper into the topic at the Saari Residence is truly a gift.


Taina Mäki-Iso (MA) is a director and teacher specialising in physical theatre and clowning. She works extensively in theatre and with dance, circus and musicians, students and enthusiasts. She also performs as a clown and has had several solo performances, including: Kohti horisonttia (Towards the Horizon, 2010), haMEmo (2013/14, this performance was also included in the repertoire of the Finnish National Theatre’s Touring Stage in 2015–16), Viikinkiprinsessa (The Viking Princess, 2016), MEDEIA: Klovnin raivonhallintaopas (MEDEIA: A Clown’s Guide to Anger Management, 2018) and Piilossa (Hidden, 2019). Mäki-Iso is also involved in the show Tohtori Zeiffal, Tohtori Zeigal ja virtahepo, jota ei koskaan saatu kiinni (Dr Zeiffal, Dr Zeigal and the Hippo That Can Never Be Caught), written and directed by Georgia Murphy (2018 Fabulous Bäckström Brothers, Music Theatre Kapsäkki). As well as Finland, she has performed in Austria, France, the Czech Republic, Benin, the United Arab Emirates and Spain. She also works as a hospital clown (Dr Tanttarulla) and has entertained seniors in day centres as Klovnirouva Martta (Mrs Martta Clown).

Mäki-Iso has directed performances, for example, at the city theatres of Helsinki, Oulu, Lappeenranta and Kuopio, as well as for independent groups. The most recent work she has directed includes Hannu ja Kerttu – vai meneekö ihan pipariksi? (Hansel and Gretel – or is it all crumbling away? 2020) for Teatteri Eurooppa Neljä, Muteco (2019) which combines clowning and contemporary dance for dancers Mari Kortelainen and Kalle Pulkkinen, Kalevalainen ensiapulaukku K-18 (Kalevala First Aid Kit, X-rated, 2017) and Niki Blomberg, Katri Lausjärvi and Mäki-Iso’s bouffon-influenced and multidisciplinary MANIA performance (2016).

She is a distinguished teacher and has taught, among others, clowning and acting with a mask at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy, in the Degree Programme in Theatre Arts (Näty) at the University of Tampere, the Arts Academy in Turku, the circus training programme at Salpaus Further Education in Lahti, and in Benin and the Czech Republic. Taina herself has studied clowning and the comic arts under teachers such as Philippe Gaulier, Pierre Byland, Giovanni Fusetti, Ami Hattab, Norman Taylor and Angela de Castro.