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 circus-theatre and delivering 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 musical clown 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. Click here for a list of Holly's directing credits.

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 performance training / self development workshops under the name 'Holly Stoppit Workshops', creates bespoke consultancy and 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.

Who's made use of Holly's services? Click here to find out.

Watch Holly talking about her life and career at TEDx Bristol:


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.

  • Dramatherapy MA: The Southwest School of Dramatherapy
  • 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, Angela Halvorsen Bogo (We-play)
  • Fooling: Franki Anderson, Jonathan Kay
  • Improvisation: Phelim McDermott (Improbable), Jon Nicholson (Peepolykus)
  • Physical Theatre: Amy Rose (Utility Room), 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 (Polichinelo)
  • 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 
  • Meditation: Catherine McGee, Kirstin Kratz, Yanai Postelnik, Martin Aylward, Leela Sarti, Zohar Lavi and Laura Bridgman at Gaia House Retreat Centre, Simon Barnes at Being Mindful, Suvaco and Jake Dartington through the Bristol Insight Group, Olly Frame and Lucy Chan at Shapham House
  • Non Violent Communication: Seed of Peace
  • Circle Of Trust: Penny Williamson 
  • Small business training: Brave and Outset

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