Don Rieder is a seasoned performer who is known for his rubbery dexterity, energy, and invention. “The comic talents of Rieder are so finely honed that one’s attention is drawn to the stage.” (San Francisco Chronicle) He is a prolific author and gag writer whose clown plays, known for their pratfalls, mayhem and laughter, walk the razor’s edge between the tragic and the ridiculous. Since 1978 he and his clown plays and company KLAUNIADA - co-founded with Valerie Dean - have toured across Canada, the United States and Mexico, and have been presented at international mime and theatre festivals in France, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.
As a director he is known for the creation of stage work with arresting images, evocative, articulate gesture and memorable characterization. His approach is a synthesis of various practices including, clown theatre, Everyday Poetry – theatre of objects, mask work, Silent Film, and Commedia dell’ Arte.
Used to working in a variety of styles and on both small and large-scale productions he has collaborated with companies as different as Théâtre de la pire espèce, Cirque d’anges heureux, and the Cirque du Soleil. The Cirque creations were, O – directed by Franco Dragone, Zumanity – directed by Dominic Champagne, KA directed by Robert Lepage, LOVE – directed by Dominic Champagne, Zaia – directed by Gilles Maheu, and Zed – directed by François Girard.
He is a Master Teacher with 40 years of teaching experience at professional and pre-professional levels guiding actors, dancers, and circus artists to achieve technical mastery of basic and advanced skills and self-expression. Teaching credits include The National Theatre School of Canada, numerous American and Canadian colleges and universities, the Cirque du Soleil, The National Circus School in Montreal, and En Piste.
His serious clown training began in Prague with the internationally known artists Bolek Polivka, Ctibor Turba and Boris Hybner. While in Prague he developed a love of animated film, inspired by Jiri Trnka and Bretislav Pojar, and a love of puppetry inspired by Divadlo Drak and their raw style of actor and object. He was personally invited by Jacques Lecoq to the École Lecoq to study clown and buffon. Other performance education included Butoh with Yukio Waguri, Contact Improvisation with Andrew Harwood and Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals with Peggy Hackney.
Having learned the power of the powerless from the writings of Vaclav Havel, he developed a strong commitment to Social Action This began with work in an Outreach Program for Roma children in Prague, continued at the Idaho School for the Deaf and led to the creation, with Valerie Dean, of Sunrise Theatre, a company of abled and developmentally disabled actors which toured the Northwestern US and was the subject of two documentaries. In Montreal he was a Master Teacher for Cirque du Monde/Social Circus, a Cirque du Soleil sponsored social action program for youth at risk headquartered in Montreal. As part of this Cirque du Soleil initiative he offered Master Classes for social action programs in Atlanta, Orlando and Las Vegas. Most recently he was Artist-in-Residence at Dalhousie University's Medical Humanities-HEALS Program, funded by the Pope Foundation.