Holly Stoppit
Photo credit: Adam Fung

About Holly

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 pleasure 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 the Klezma-dub-pop party-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, creates bespoke consultancy / training sessions for theatre companies, community organisations, businesses and universities and directs and facilitates devised and improvised theatre, both freelance and with her own company, Beyond The Ridiculous.

Interactive Talks  / Workshops

Holly has provided many interactive talks and workshops, drawing from her research into performance and mental health. Previous clients include:

Bristol TEDx, The Wellcome Collection, Dramatherapy Wales conference, Equity South West's Mental Health in the Arts Symposium, Bristol Museum, Bath Spa University, The Clown and Power Symposium, London Speciality School of Psychiatry, University of the Highlands, Eden Court Theatre, Educircation European Social Circus Project, Southwest School of Dramatherapy, Dancevoice, Network of International Circus Exchange (NICE) Conference, Performers Without Borders, Circus To Borders, Circus To Palestine, Winchester University, Dramatherapy South West Conference, The Psychedelic Society, Engage at Theatre Royal, Bath, Stepping Out Theatre Company and through her own Mindful Play Sessions and Work In Progress project.

Specialist teaching  / artist development projects

2015-2017 Bath Spa University 

Holly created a Live Comedy Performance module and delivered it for 2nd year degree students for two years running. Responding to demand, she created an additional Advanced Comedy Performance module for 3rd years. 

2014-2018 Bath Fringe Festival 

Holly co-designed and delivered New Work Works, a street artists development scheme for Bedlam Fair, Bath’s street theatre festival.

2016 Pontardawe Arts Centre Chrysalis Scheme 

Facilitating artists development during this residency for welsh theatre makers.

2014 Ramshacklicious, Atelier 231 

Facilitating ensemble devising workshops for people with schizophrenia, during the creative process of Ramshacklicious' ‘Grime' 

2014 Winchester Hat Fair

Facilitating a 5-day street theatre ensemble improvisation summer school for Winchester University Street Arts Degree students. 

2013 Educircation 

Created and facilitated a 5-day workshop for European social circus teachers in Clown-o-therapy.

2013 Nofit State Circus 

Providing performance skills / devising workshops leading up to the creation of a Community Christmas Cabaret

R&D facilitation / direction / consultancy

Holly has worked with so many companies, that the list would last from here to Timbuktu, but for you to get a flavour of the diversity of her engagements, here are some people who've made use of Holly's skills:

Liz Clarke Cannonballista,  Emily Souter Johnson Polyester, Bianca Bertalot Cinco Coisas, Lucy Harrington Wake Up and Deirdrealize, Modest Geniuses Dying To Please You, Helen Duff Vanity Bites Back,  Come With Me, When The Going Gets Duff, How Deep Is Your Duff, Edward Rapley 10 Ways To Die on Stage, The Middle Bit, Who Knows Where Open Attic Birth and Death and Here and Now, The Invisible Circus Beyond The Cabaret, Carnyville 2 and 4 Cirque Idyllic Monster Magic Zucco and Co Ne Tombez Pas, Pirates, Le Quest du Noel Eden Court Theatre Nobody's Home, Cinecab-a-go-go Pearl and Dean.... and Irene Nofit State Circus Noodles,  Likely Story The Giant Who Had No Heart In His Body, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru Y Storm, Pridd and Fat Club, Tessa Bide The Melody Makers, Acrojou Vessel, The Fabularium The Town Band of Bremen, Mossy Crow Mossy Crow, Broken Dream Co The Act, Freckled Mischief Oz, China Blue Fish and Deborah Antoinette Queen Cunt

Holly's Company History

2015-current Beyond The Ridiculous 

Beyond The Ridiculous was initially born out of an R&D project for Open Attic Theatre, where Holly spent 5 days teaching 8 artists all about the incredible solo improvisation form of Fooling. Many of the artists wanted to continue training, as did many of those coming through Holly's summer schools. So Beyond The Ridiculous was born as a training academy  / performance company. Holly is Artistic Director, company trainer and live facilitator during performances. Sometimes she performs.

2006- 2010 Ramshacklicious 

Holly co-founded Ramshacklicious Street Theatre Company with her brother, Jack Stoddart. They co-produced and performed The Road To Nowhere, a musical-physical comedy about love, family and death, all around the UK and some of Europe. Holly co-produced The Small Time and facilitated the R&D for Grime before leaving the company to focus on her own work. The company continues to thrive.

2003- 2006 Elastic Concoctions 

Holly co-founded this interactive storytelling company with her sister, Jesse Paul. They provided storytelling workshops and shows for schools, whilst moonlighting as The Texas Pan-handle Sisters, a ridiculous cabaret duo combining yodelling with violence.

Some of Holly's teachers

Here's some of the influences behind Holly's work. Holly would like to thank all her teachers for their generosity, inspiration and support.

  • Clowning: Sue Morrison, John Wright, Vivian Gladwell (Nose to Nose) 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: Amy Rose, Marcello Magni (Complicite), Al Nedjari (Gecko), Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk), Guy Dartnell, Dominique Fester. 
  • Action Theatre: Brenda Waite 
  • Playback: Brian Tasker, Rose Thorn.
  • Forum Theatre: Laura Newton 
  • Dance: Joan and Barry Grantham (eccentric dance), Bernadette Ryder (5Rhythmns) 
  • Dance Movement Inquiry: Eleanor Buchan and Henry McGrath (Oran), James and Lee (Embodied Presence)
  • Acrobatics: Marcello De Ramos. 
  • Mime: Desmond Jones. 
  • Playful Voice: Mel McCree (Going Feral), Anthony Johnson (Realvoice), Polly Wilde, Verity Standen. 
  • Creative Writing: Anita McCallum (Loud Word)
  • Laughter Yoga: Joe Hoare. 
  • Playwork: The Play and Early Years Training Unit 
  • Dramatherapy MA: The Southwest School of Dramatherapy.  
  • Meditation: Catherine McGee, Kirstin Kratz, Yanai Postelnik, Martin Aylward, Leela Sarti, Zohar Lavi and Lura Bridgman at Gaia House Retreat Centre, Simon Barnes (MBST) at Being Mindful, Suvaco through the Bristol Insight Group 
  • Non Violent Communication: Seed of Peace. 
  • Circle Of Trust: Penny Williamson 
  • Small business training: Brave and Outset.

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