We picture the clown mostly as a circus clown, with a bulbous red nose, the »smallest mask in the world«. However the history of the figure of the clown stretches much further back than the circus' 18th Century genesis. It is an expression of a complex interweaving of discourses related to gender and the body, the history of the theater and sociopolitical issues. The contributors, including prominent international clowns, present contemporary, artistic positions on the clown as a »form of play«, as well as theoretical perspectives from diverse academic disciplines. Previously neglected by research, the clown shows itself to be a paradigmatic figure in the history of culture. Richard Weihe (Dr. phil. habil.), geboren in Bern, ist Professor für Theorie und Praxis des Theaters an der Accademia Teatro Dimitri/SUPSI in Verscio, Tessin.