Holly Stoppit (aka Holly Stoddart) grew up on the road with her family’s circus-theatre company, Arts Play Umbrella, performing and delivering circus-theatre workshops all around the UK. Gripped by clowning at a very young age, tiny Holly discovered an enormous sense of power through provoking laughter from audiences. In adulthood, Holly has sat at the feet of many a wise clown, fool and idiot, diligently soaking up their particular take on comedy and assimilating it with further training in dance, physical theatre, voice work, playwork and meditation.
For over two decades, Holly performed extensively as a clown-musician in circus, street theatre, cabaret, rural touring, schools and theatres with so many companies that the list is frankly ridiculous, but includes Nofit State Circus, The Honk Project, Oily Cart, The Invisible Circus, Ramshacklicious (the street theatre company she co-founded with her brother, Jack) and her show-band, Yupknuckle.
Wanting to share her performance knowledge with others, Holly began freelancing as a director of devised performance in her 20’s. Her directing work ranges from a trilogy of one-man autobiographical tragicomedies to epic promenade site-specific circus-theatre spectacular with a cast of 150. Between these two extremes, Holly has facilitated artists to create just about every type of devised theatre imaginable.
In 2007, wanting to share her processes even further, Holly began teaching adult Clown classes to people from all walks of life in Bristol.
In 2010, Holly's deep fascination for the transformational potential of creative process led her to studying for an MA in Dramatherapy. Her dissertation research focused on the potential therapeutic benefits of clown skills training for adults with mental health issues; a system which she has coined “Clown-o-therapy.” She has been gradually integrating elements of Clown-o-therapy into her regular clown workshops, offering various opportunities for self-discovery alongside clown skills training.
These days Holly creates and delivers workshops under Holly Stoppit Workshops and for universities, creates bespoke consultancy / training sessions for theatre companies, community organisations and businesses and directs and facilitates devised and improvised theatre, both freelance and with her own company, Beyond The Ridiculous.
Some of Holly's teachers
Clowning: Sue Morrison, John Wright, Emma Lloyd, Angela De Castro, Fraser Hooper, Mick Barnfather, Gerry Flannagan, Kevin Brooking, Julie Goell, Jon Davison, Aitor Bassauri (Spymonkey), Didier Danthois. Fooling: Franki Anderson, Jonathan Kay. Improvisation: Phelim McDermott (Improbable). Physical Theatre: Brenda Waite, Amy Rose, Marcello Magni (Complicite), Al Nedjari (Gecko), Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk), Guy Dartnell, Dominique Fester. Playback: Brian Tasker, Rose Thorn. Dance: Joan and Barry Grantham (eccentric dance), Bernadette Ryder (5Rhythmns). Acrobatics: Marcello De Ramos. Mime: Desmond Jones. Playful voice: Mel McCree (Going Feral), Anthony Johnson (Realvoice), Polly Wilde, Verity Standen. Laughter Yoga: Joe Hoare. Dramatherapy: The Southwest School of Dramatherapy. Meditation: Various teachers at Dhanakosa, Gaia House Retreat Centre, Simon Barnes (MBST) Non Violent Communication: Seeds of Peace. Small business training Brave and Outset.
Previous Specialist Teaching Projects
Bath Spa University For the last 2 years, Holly created and delivered a Live Comedy Performance module for 2nd year degree students and an Advanced Comedy Performance module for 3rd years. Holly has also delivered guest lectures for other degree students including; Facilitation Skills, Devising Skills, Status Play and How I Make Work.
Bath Fringe Festival Holly designed and delivered New Work Works, a street artists development scheme for Bedlam Fair, Bath’s street theatre festival for the past 2 years.
Pontardawe Arts Centre Chrysalis Scheme facilitating artists development during this residency for welsh theatre makers.
Winchester University Street Theatre / Ensemble Improvisation Summer School (as part of Winchester Hat Fair)
Bristol Folk House, City Of Bristol College, Hamilton House Clowning Evening Classes for adults.
Improperly Improvisation Clowning For Improvisers
Educircation European Social Circus Project Week-long intensive for social circus teachers in Holly’s process, Clown-o-therapy
University of The Highlands Group Skills Through Play
Performers Without Borders Leadership and Communication Skills Through Play
Circus To Borders Communication Skills Through Play
Circus To Palestine Clown teacher / director, Boomchucka Circus Show
Eden Court Theatre Site Specific Theatre Games Workshop
Mossy Crow Interactive Storytelling Masterclass
Nofit State Circus Too Excited To Sleep Performance skills / devising workshops leading to Community Christmas Cabaret
Atelier 231 Facilitating tie-in workshops for people with mental health issues during the creative process of Ramshacklicious' ‘Grime'
Mentoring / consultancy
Adam Blake Birth and Death and Here and Now (Fooling teacher / mentor)
Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru Y Storm, Pridd and Fat Club (Clown Consultant)
The Fabularium The Town Band of Bremen (Clown Consultant)
Nofit State Circus Noodles (Fun Consultant)
The Invisible Circus Company development facilitator
Pirates of The Carabina Company evaluation / development Facilitator
Broken Dream Co The Act (Ensemble Devising Skills Masterclass / Mentor)
Likely Story The Giant Who Had No Heart In His Body (Fuse Lighter)
Liz Clarke Cannonballista (Mentor)
Acrojou Vessel (Comedy Consultant / Fuse Lighter)
Jenny Drew New Untitled Graphic Novel (Mentor)
Freckled Mischief Oz (interactive street theatre workshop / phd research facilitator)
Open Attic Tales in The Attic Bespoke story telling workshop
Mossy Crow Site specific storytelling workshop
Time Norwood and Charlotte Blackburn Apocalypse of the Mind Bespoke Mental Health in the Rehearsal Room workshop
Interactive Talks / Presentations
Clown and Power Symposium Accessing Vulnerability Through Clown
London Speciality School of Psychiatry Conference Playfulness and Psychiatry Workshop
Southwest School of Dramatherapy Clown-o-therapy session
Dancevoice Clown-o-therapy session
Network of International Circus Exchange (NICE) Conference Connection Through Play Workshop
Winchester University Mental health and Street Arts Lecture
Mindful Play Sessions Play, Flow, Spontaneity and Connection
A sample of Holly's Directing / R&D Facilitation
Bianca Bertalot Cinco Coisas (process facilitator / director)
Lucy Harrington Wake Up and Deirdrealize (R&D facilitator)
Modest Geniuses (Tess Cartwright and Last Baguette) Dying To Please You (R&D facilitator / dramatherapist)
Helen Duff Vanity Bites Back (Facilitator / dramatherapist) / Come With Me (R&D Facilitator)
Edward Rapley The Self Trilogy (process facilitator / director)
The Invisible Circus Beyond The Cabaret, Carnyville 2 and 4 (Director)
Eden Court Theatre Nobody's Home (Director)
Cirque Idyllic Monster Magic (Director)
Cinecab-a-go-go Pearl and Dean... and Irene (Director)
The Cockney Awkestra Ding Dong (Director)
Zucco and Co Pirates and Quete de Noel (Director)
The Honk Project Mr Honk and His Sad Trombone (re-direction for the street) / Dorris and Alby the dancing day-trippers / Rag and Bone (director)
Hinged Theatre Vassillisa and The Flying Pie (R&D Facilitator)
Tessa Bide Productions The Melody Makers (R&D facilitator)
Away Day Training
Exeter Business School
2003- 2006 Elastic Concoctions Co-founder, storyteller, workshop leader, tour booker
2006- 2010 Ramshacklicious Co-founder, Co-Artistic Director/Producer of and performer in The Road To Nowhere, Co-Producer of The Small Time, R&D facilitator for Grime
2015-current Beyond The Ridiculous Artistic Director, company trainer, live facilitator during performances