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 (Clown Through Mask), John Wright, Vivian Gladwell (Nose to Nose) Emma Lloyd, Angela De Castro (How To Be A Stupid), Fraser Hooper, Mick Barnfather, Gerry Flannagan, Kevin Brooking, Julie Goell, Jon Davison, Aitor Bassauri (Spymonkey), Didier Danthois (Fool At Heart), Angela Halvorsen Bogo (We-Play), Moshe Cohen (The Inner Clown), Robyn Hambrook (Rebel Clowning).
- Fooling: Franki Anderson, Jonathan Kay
- Alchemy of The Archetypes: Peta Lily
- Improvisation: Phelim McDermott (Improbable), Jon Nicholson (Peepolykus), Brenda Waite (The Flummery Room)
- 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), Jamus 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, Briony Greenhill
- Creative Writing: Anita McCallum (Loud Word)
- Public Speaking: TEDx Bristol Speakers training scheme
- 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, Laura Bridgman, Chris Cullen and Jaya Rudgard at Gaia House Retreat Centre (Insight Meditation), Simon Barnes at Being Mindful (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), Suvaco and Jake Dartington through the Bristol Insight Group, Smirtiratna at Dhanakosa (Triratna), Olly Frame and Lucy Chan (Mindful approaches to recovering from burnout), Nina Jankelson and Shoshana Moskowitz (Mindfulness in Nature) at Sharpham, Rachel Blackman (Somatic Meditation), Martin Aylward at The Moulin (Dimensions of Not Knowing) and many teachers via Sangha Live
- Non Violent Communication: Seed of Peace
- Compassionate Inquiry: Gabor Mate (via Wholehearted self-paced learning)
- Circle Of Trust: Penny Williamson
- Action Learning: Arts and Health South West
- Small Business Training: Brave and Outset
- Leading Through Your Creative Practice: Arts Connect