clowns from as far afield as Canada, Ireland and Scotland will be descending on the Suffolk seaside town of Lowestoft in March for a show that offers a unique chance to see a huge variety of clowning styles on a single stage. The clowns range in age from 8-year-old Macey, who is following in the outsize shoes of the event's organiser, Andrew 'Andy the Clown' Davis, to 84-year-old Arthur Pedlar, who once worked with silent movie slapstick star Buster Keaton and who was inspired to don make-up after seeing the legendary American hobo clown Emmett Kelly in the 1930s.

Clowns in Lowestoft

Amid the line-up of clowns is Bobbo Roberts who grew up in one of Britain's oldest circus families, Simon Thompson who performs as the slightly menacing character Clown Noir, and the father and son slapstick team of Rollo and Tommy Rollason. Flying in Canada will be Annie Bannanie Dolny. Other dignitaries from the world of big wigs and big shoes include Matthew 'Mattie' Faint, who curates the Clown Museum at the Holy Trinity church in East London, and the Fool Hardy Circus Troupe, which mixes music with juggling and acrobatics. All of them will be appearing in a quick-fire series of skits in a revue at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, on March 1 and 2.

Clown gathering

The show, billed as A Variety of Clown Comedy, is the public highlight of Clown Gathering UK, an annual event that sees clowns from all over Britain and the world meet for a week of talks and workshops at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, where they swap skills from balloon modelling to making red noses, as well as the business and health and safety side of putting on a show.

The workshops are only available to a limited number of performers who book for the whole week, with many staying in the nearby Hatfield Hotel.

Clowning for clowns

"It's clowning for clowns, all the friends coming together and networking," says Davis, who founded Clown Gathering UK two years ago. But if there's one thing clowns love more than spending time with other jesters, it's making people laugh, hence the two gala shows when CGUK is thrown open to the public and audiences are given a one-off chance to see an international cast of top mirth-makers in action. Tickets for A Variety of Clown Comedy are available from the Seagull Theatre box office.