Clowns In Crisis Cabaret Film

Dec 02 2020

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Photo by Paul Blakemore, graphics by Robyn Hambrook

On the 6th of November 2020, 12 international students of The Online Clown Academy performed a series of short solo clown acts which they created through the Zoom Clown level 3 course – exploring Personal and Political Clowning.

The 6 week course was designed for students who had completed Zoom Clown 1 (Clown Play) and Zoom Clown 2 (Building Blocks to Clown Devising) plus a few students who had previously worked with the course leaders.

We began with masterclasses from course leaders, Holly Stoppit (exploring working with personal material) and Robyn Hambrook (exploring political applications of clowning) before moving into a multitude of exercises that helped to generate masses of material.

The performers were then asked to submit their ideas for their 3 minute pieces;  there was a clear split between red nose / simple clowns and character clowns. They were placed into buddy groups of three and were given instructions as to how to support each other to craft short narrative pieces, whilst leaving space for audience interaction.

In the week before the show, Robyn and Holly offered one-to-one sessions with each performer to help them shape and polish their pieces. A logical order was found and on the 6th November, Robyn presented the Clowns In Crisis Cabaret with Holly offering tech support.

Here is Robyn's edit of the live performance, capturing all the different flavours of clowning on offer:

What the audience said about the show

"I left the performance feeling much lighter in my mind and my body... The laughter and connection really helped."

"I found watching the performers being able to expose themselves without holding back inspiring. I realised I had become afraid of being a fool and need to challenge myself more."

"I left feeling very light and full hearted. It inspired me seeing connected performances and the way it was set up was really warm."

What Happened After The Show

The week after the show, the group met up again on Zoom to creatively reflect on their learning through the process of devising and performing a piece of personal or political clowning for an audience. Using a mixture of writing, movement, discussion and ritual, each group member found their individual pearls of wisdom to take into their next projects, expressed their gratitude to each other and said their final farewells.

What the Zoom Clown Level 3 Students said about the course

"How do you describe something so wonderful?...The course facilitators bring together a diverse set of clowns and create a close, supportive space for them to play. The play directs and builds each clown into a place where they have the confidence to devise a piece for performance. Each piece is unique and reflects the clown performing it. It is the most wonderful experience I have had on a clown course, there were some seriously good experiences to beat but it topped them, and I just wanted there to be more."

"Joining a group of people with no idea what you're doing, having fun doing weird stuff for weeks and then somehow magically ending up with an act to perform at the end of it, completely unsure how or where that came from but just aware it works.

"Its feckin’ brilliant and clever and well organised and professional and full of useful information and teaching on being a total idiot in this stupid world of numpties we live in."

What the course leaders thought about the course

The level 3 course was a great opportunity for Holly and Robyn to share their specialities with a group of advanced clown students. We were delighted to have been able to guide this journey and really proud of everyone's work and the depth of learning that occurred.

It's possible that we'll run this course again in 2021, watch this space... In the meantime, our next  Zoom Clown 1 course is in February. Details and dates here.

If you'd like to see an overview of the whole conference, click here.

If you'd like to see a recording of our Saturday Night Panel discussion on the theme of Clowns In Crisis, click here.

If you'd like to read some of the notes from Sunday's Open Space discussion, click here.

If you were at any of our conference events over the weekend of the 6-8 November, please take a moment to fill out this feedback form. Thank you!

If you'd like to donate to support the organisers of the Clowns In Crisis Conference, follow this link.

Holly Stoppit menu