Not cultural diversity but comical diversity was the theme of the fifth international clown conference Anjos do Picadeiro (Angels of the Ring). More than two thousand clowning artists came to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on the 4th of December 2006 to test new acts on the audience and to exchange experiences.
The conference that the organisation characterised as 'a true celebration of laughter' did not solely consist of laughing matters. The clowns also discussed more serious matters, like whether being a clown is something that can be learned. The programme also offered a menu of ten workshops. Former football player and dancer Sotigui Kouyat� from Burkina Faso gave lessons on the rules of playacting, for example. The workshop on humour by Mexican Aziz Gual included the requirement that the participants bring three foam balls the size of an orange and the end of a broom.
The clown festival had its debut in 1996, when members of the Teatro de Anônimo organised a 'work festival' to exchange experiences with colleagues whom they admired. The first edition was also a homage to Benjamin de Oliveira, Brazil's first black clown who performed his circus acts in the nineteenth century. The festival's informal character disappeared when the SESC, the Brazilian network of cultural centres, decided to sponsor the second edition, making it possible for the programme to grow and internationalise. Nevertheless, financial difficulties hampered the next edition, as a result of which the fourth Anjos de Picadeiro was not held until 2004.