What happened in 2019?

Dec 21 2019

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: @ TEDx Bristol photographer: Jon Craig

Wowee! 2019 was a year of accelerated growth! From telly, to TED, to talking gigs, via idiot incubation, clown consultancy and taking time off! Here's a look back through 2019.

The year kicked off with a BBC news interview in February, which gave me the opportunity to clown for camera for the first time. The resulting short film Clowning is the Ticket to Freedom helped to propel my work out to a wider audience.

Thanks to the BBC film and the mighty power of word of mouth, Holly Stoppit Workshops have steadily gained in popularity, with the Introduction To Clowning weekend now getting 3 or 4 times the number of applicants for places available. (If you've already tried to get on this workshop, please keep trying – we prioritise people who have applied more than twice)

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: December 2019 intro to clowning grads

2019 Holly Stoppit Workshops in Numbers 

★ 270 students have attended our workshops
★ 34 volunteer assistants have supported me in the room by taking notes, making tea and taking care of our students
★ 4 guest tutors have provided additional training for our clown community here in Bristol. We invited Amy Rose to run a 4-week block of the Utility Room performance practice sessions, Mel McCree ran a Going Feral wild play day, Dominique Fester ran a 5-day physical theatre summer school and Shantigarbha from Seed of Peace collaborated with Holly to offer a brand new Nonviolent Clown Weekend
★ 10 Introduction to Clowning weekends: 8 in Bristol, 1 in Bath and 1 in Edinburgh
★ 8 x 5-day courses (including Deepening ClownComic StorytellingFooling & Assembling Your Inner Cast)
★ 1 specially-tailored Fools Performance training week, in collaboration with members of Beyond The Ridiculous, resulting in a 3-night run of improvised shows at The Wardrobe Theatre
★ 1 Fools Retreat (our first ever!)
★ 2 brand new weekend courses - Nonviolent Clowning & Site Responsive Clown Devising
★ 2 x 8-week Inner Critic Inquiry courses.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: fools retreat, October 2019

Consultancy & facilitation

On top of all our public-facing workshops, I’ve been sneaking into organisations and theatre companies, providing training, facilitation, consultancy and mentoring. This year I created bespoke training and facilitation for:

★ Stepping Out Theatre Company – a Bristol-based charity geared towards helping people with mental health issues access creative activities. I provided an Inner Critic Inquiry taster day in March and came back with a 5-week autumn course incorporating a mixture of movement, meditation, voice work, artwork, creative writing and discussion to explore the themes of safety, play, trust, resilience, descending into winter and fond farewells
★ Theatre Royal in Bath invited me to run my Introduction to Clowning for the adults who attend their 'Engage' adult performance training scheme
★ City of Bristol College Creative Arts Therapy department asked me to facilitate a 1-day introduction to Clown-o-Therapy for their students
★ Hocus Pocus Theatre Company, a Norwich-based theatre arts collective invited me to come in at the start of their devising process for their site-specific promenade show, The Fun Clinic. I facilitated a 2-day masterclass on interactive audience connection and devising through play (here's a video about it).
★ I continued to support funny woman / storyteller Emily Souter Johnson through her tour of Polyester, the one-woman show we created together in 2018
★ Performer / director, Anna Carr came all the way to Bristol from Southampton to explore themes and forms for her new autobiographical one-woman show
★ My Scottish protege, Robbie Foulston, asked me to facilitate a 2-day process exploring character-led interactive performance, while I was up in Edinburgh presenting my Introduction to Clown weekend 
★ Equity South West asked me to facilitate a 1-hour Open Space discussion as part of their Mental Health in the Performing Arts symposium.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Robbie Foulston dancing in the disco room of dreams
Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Anna Carr, singing an ode to her grandparents in a shard of sunlight
Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Hocus Pocus, playing in the Norwich Puppet Theatre

Public speaking

2019 was the year that saw my public speaking career take-off like a rocket! In the early summer I applied to do a TED talk with TEDxBristol, submitting the BBC film as my showreel. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was chosen to be one of 15 speakers who would undertake training and mentoring to perform our very own TED talks on the main stage of Bristol Old Vic in November. The resulting film is still in the process of being edited - we’ll share it as soon as it’s out. In the meantime here's my blog about the experience. 

My TED talk has already led to public speaking opportunities a-plenty, including:

★ As a panel member for Equity South West’s Mental health in the performing arts symposium

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: leading a meditation at the Mental Health in the performing arts symposium

★ As keynote speaker at Dramatherapy Wales conference, speaking about how dropping into the archetype of clown can help creative arts therapists both inside and outside the practice room

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: key note speaker at Dramatherapy Wales conference

★ As speaker and panel member, speaking about 'Making Space for Play' at the 'Perspectives on Play' Symposium at the Wellcome Collection, as part of their 'Play Well' exhibition.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: some of the contributors at the 'perspectives on play' symposium

★ I am currently in talks with the NHS and Bristol Uni about providing bespoke specialist training and talks for 2020… watch this space for news.

And there's more...

Somehow, I have also managed to find time to keep chipping away at writing my book as well as writing about a million blogs

I took a month off work in July and discovered there is more to life than work. I am about to do the same for January, see you on the other side!

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Isle of Skye, photographer Joe Rosser

Thank you...

But before I go, I want to say thank you to all the people who’ve supported me this year.

Huge gratitude is winging its way to my wonder-administrator Beccy Golding for keeping the ship steady, all the workshop assistants for their generous time and care, my clinical supervisor for his annoyingly astute observations, my meditation and dance teachers for keeping me anchored and grounded, my friends and family for your patience, big thanks to my boyfriend for your endless, unwavering support and huge bucket-fulls of gratitude to all of you lot for jumping in head-first into our trainings, recommending our workshops to your friends, reading the newsletters and blogs and hanging out with us on social media.

Without you, I’d be a wally in a room on my own.

Love and laughter,
Holly xxx

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