presenters

 

Artist Development Courses

Clown Masterclass

We normally run 2-3 masterclasses per year in London, and other regular ones in New York,, Los Angeles and continental Europe, and they are under heavy demand. We advise interested people to sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about them.

 

We typically have a wide range of professional experience represented at the masterclasses, from seasoned performers through to complete novices.

 

There is also some limited availability to bring our workshops to universities, colleges, drama schools and theatre companies. Please contact us for more details.

 

What is the Clown Masterclass?

 

In the Spymonkey clown masterclass, you will learn to discover what makes you funny, hone your skills and practice making an audience belly laugh! Through clear and specific instruction, Aitor will support you to develop and hone your comedic skills in a safe and fun environment. This positive group dynamic will allow you focus on following your impulse, being adventurous and taking risks. You will learn how to shine as an individual and improve on every spontaneous opportunity. In this highly enjoyable workshop you will play games, do exercises developing trust and complicity with the group. In this atmosphere of discovery and revelation, you will be developing and showing new material. Be prepared to find the pleasure in your own ridiculousness, stay optimistic, discover your comedy gold, and get ready to laugh until your face hurts.

 

Technically there are many other engines to make people laugh: status games, parody and improvisation. In Spymonkey’s workshops we will touch on all of them, creating an enjoyable and revealing atmosphere to discover the unique way in which you’re funny.

 

You will learn how to begin to trust your instinctive and spontaneous self. We will teach you technically how to make people laugh through status play-offs, parody, improvisation and many more games and exercises. All the sessions will be about creating a fresh, trusting and highly enjoyable workshop in an atmosphere of revelation to discover you’re funny.

 

AGE 18 and upwards

 

GROUP SIZE up to 20 participants.

 

LENGTH Usually five days, but we can also provide shorter one- or two-day courses and taster sessions

 

SUITABLE FOR

  • professional actors and performers
  • drama schools
  • undergraduate and graduate level performing arts
  • INSET/teacher training
  • professional theatre companies
  • A-level students
  • special needs and mixed ability groups

 

Please contact us for more details of how our workshops can be tailored to specific groups.

Aitor talks about clown

 

“I do theatre because it is fun because it makes me live life twice and I love life! The clown lives in a fantastic theatrical world. For an actor the clown stimulates a fresh immediacy full of pleasure and mischief. It is this brimming pleasure that fills the performer and touches

an audience. The audience in turn feel they are watching something very special and unique because the clown is generous, sharing with them their most intimate vulnerability, fun and unique personality.

 

“The performer who dares to stand before a crowd, unafraid to make mistakes and find pleasure in being wonderfully silly will reap fruitful rewards. In Spymonkey we strongly believe that it is in this moment that the seed for the best performances can begin. Once up there in front of the audience, that pleasure will take you from one funny mistake to the next, always happy, always optimistic o be playing in front of the audience. By being joyful, playful, curious, mischievous and full of fantasy you will find funny opportunities. ”

Jane Nichols / professor, Yale School of Drama

 

“Aitor has boundless energy. He loves what he teaches and he loves to teach. Aitor’s easy, even temperament is as genuine and reassuring as it is compelling and empowering. His enthusiasm for what he does is evident and contagious. He approaches his students as he approaches the material … with humor, with clarity and authority, with knowledge, and with profound respect. Just as he and the other members of the remarkable Spymonkey approach weighty, sometimes perverse or tragic material with humor and a touch of grace, so to, as Aitor approaches a student’s despair or resistance or personal tragedy he applies the same humor and grace. That his professional work aligns dignity with absurdity is testimony to his genius as an artist. That he, as an artist, is dedicated to eliciting that same sensibility from his students is testimony to his depth as a humanist, - and to his commitment to education.”

Music & Performance

Music has always played a huge part of the Spymonkey creative process - we think early on in our writing about what the show might offer in the way of deliciously inappropriate original songs, musical theatre genres that we want to explore, unlikely cover versions of existing songs, speciality variety acts, original music in a range of genres and styles to inspire us to new choreographic heights, sound effects that establish their own theatrical conventions (and then break them hilariously).

 

In this 5 day workshop we will explore how Spymonkey use music to lead us into unique and totally original comedic territory. We will explore Pleasure: the clown’s pleasure of being ridiculous on stage, the generous pleasure of playing with our friends, the pleasure of performing music together, the pleasure of pursuing grand ambitions, of unlikely choices, of aiming high, of making terrible mistakes and failing woefully! The pleasure of making an audience laugh their socks off.

 

How do you start to build a musical speciality act? How do you create a brilliant dance routine? How do you write a song that will make people piss their pants? How can music unite a disparate group of performers into one vibrantly harmonic unit? (And then have it all fall apart again catastrophically?) Using the principles of clown that will be familiar to students of Spymonkey’s work - vulnerability, generosity, pleasure, optimism, complicity - we will explore all these things and more.

 

If participants have an instrument they’ll be asked to to bring it with them. But they won’t need to be able to play an instrument, or to sing, or to have done a Spymonkey workshop before, to stretch their musical and comedic sensibilities in order to create new work unique to them.

 

AGE 18 and upwards

 

GROUP SIZE up to 20 participants.

 

LENGTH Usually five days, but we can also provide shorter one- or two-day courses and taster sessions

 

SUITABLE FOR

  • professional actors and performers
  • drama schools
  • undergraduate and graduate level performing arts
  • professional theatre companies
  • special needs and mixed ability groups

 

Please contact us for more details of how our workshops can be tailored to specific groups.

Devising

How do you make a show from scratch? This workshop is designed to understand the process from early conception through to production.

 

In our devising workshop we open up our creative toolbox and show you how to create material from the smallest seed of an idea, how our greatest ideas are right under our noses (if only we knew how to look), how to build a number or scene and how to keep the work fresh both in rehearsal and in performance. We look at the context of the spaces we are creating for - large and small theatre spaces, cabaret, variety, street theatre, circus. We investigate the fundamentals - use of costume, props, lighting and sound. And we explore more advanced concepts - writing tools, devising games, character, group dynamics, status, narrative, dramatic structure, musicality and physicality.

 

Spymonkey have over 15 years of experience in creating devised shows with leading directors: Cal McCrystal (Mighty Boosh, Peepolykus, National Theatre’s ‘One Man Two Guvnors’), Jos Houben (Theatre du Complicite, The Right Size, École Jacques Lecoq Paris), Emma Rice (artistic director of Kneehigh) and Paul Hunter (artistic director of Told By An Idiot).

 

SUITABLE FOR groups of up to 18 with some workshop or performance experience of devising or clown. This workshop can also provide a starting point for a longer residency for students and professional companies (see Residencies section below).

 

WORKSHOP LENGTH 5 days or 10 days (over 2 weeks).

We like to conclude the 2-week workshop with an informal performance to an invited audience, providing both a creative catalyst to the process, and a chance to test work out in a supportive performance environment.

 

LUCY HOPKINS creator of LE FOULARD, winner Adelaide Fringe Best Theatre and Best Performer Awards, Prague Fringe Creative Award, says:

 

“I’ve done three Spymonkey workshops - the first when I had just started developing a solo show. I asked Aitor about the Spymonkey approach to making shows and he said: pick three things you really want to do on stage, do them, and then the rest of the show is what you do so you can get away with doing those things.

 

I thought that sounded like an immensely fun and liberated approach to theatre making, so I had a go. I used the second workshop to play hard and find amazing fun with experts who I knew wouldn’t tolerate my boring habits and I found a spirit of play that informs pretty much everything I make. The third was with Hijinx Theatre in Cardiff. I watched-and-learned the process of getting performers to reveal their humanity however that might be and it was completely beautiful. I’m always banging on about Spymonkey. Whatever, I think they’re totally inspiring.”

Course Tutors

AITOR BASAURI, Spymonkey founder and joint artistic director, is one of the most sought after teachers of clown and physical comedy in the world. His  masterclasses in London, Europe and New York regularly sell out, and is a staff tutor at the Ecole Phillipe Gaulier in Paris, and for Cirque du Soleil’s Cirque du Monde foundation in Las Vegas. He has taught at New York Clown Theatre Festival, Celebration Barn Maine, The Clown School LA, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Las Vegas Theatre Hub, and at universities, institutes, and festivals to students, professionals and clown doctors all over the world including Madrid, Berlin, Damascus and Taipei.

 

Aitor studied at the Centro Andaluz de Teatro in Seville and at the Philippe Gaulier School in London. He has performed in every Spymonkey show to date, including Stiff (1998), Cooped (2001), Zumanity (for Cirque du Soleil 2003), Moby Dick (2009), Love In (2011), Oedipussy (2012) and The Complete Deaths (2016). He has worked as physical comedy director for Sacha Baron Cohen on ‘Grimsby' (2014) and Chichester Festival Theatre’s ‘Mack & Mabel’ (2015).

TOBY PARK is joint founder, managing artistic director, performer and musical director of the Brighton-based international theatre company Spymonkey. With Spymonkey he created and performed around the world the groundbreaking clown theatre shows STIFF, COOPED, ZUMANITY (with Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas), BLESS, MOBY DICK, OEDIPUSSY, LOVE IN and THE COMPLETE DEATHS.

 

Comedy director for Chichester Festival Theatre’s MACK & MABEL starring Michael Ball; director and co-creator of the Finnish clown opera Fabulous Backstrom Brothers at Kapsakki Theatre Helsinki, and BIG BANG SIEGFRIED for Hagen Symphony Orchestra/Theatre Hagen, Germany. Other directing credits include Emma Edwards and Abigail Dooley’s award-winning ENTER THE DRAGONS, Hijinx’s opening and closing ceremonies for Unity Festival, Wales Millennium Centre, and Spike Theatre’s THE GAMES and SHIP OF FOOLS. He has taught clown, music and comedy workshops around the world, including the National Theatre Connections programme for directors.

 

Composer and musical director for Karl's Kühne Gassenschau Switzerland, Mimbre's 'Sprung', 'Tryptic' and 'The Bridge', Guy Dartnell's 'Would Say Something', Graeme Gilmour's site specific work for Kielder Water and Glasgow Canals, Northern Light's 'Electric Forest' for National Trust. Member of the Improbable's 'Lifegame' company off-Broadway and UK tour (2000).

PETRA MASSEY joint artistic director, performer and co-founder of Spymonkey, creating and performing around the world the groundbreaking clown theatre shows STIFF, COOPED, ZUMANITY (with Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas), BLESS, MOBY DICK, OEDIPUSSY, LOVE IN and THE COMPLETE DEATHS. . Other acting credits include 'Never Try this at Home' (2014) with Told by An Idiot, and at Shakespeare's Globe 2015 in Dominic Dromgoole's 'Measure For Measure' and Chorus Leader in Adele Thomson's 'Oresteia'.

 

Petra has extensive experience of teaching and directing, including Spymonkey workshops in clown and devising at Clown Lab Salford, New York Clown Theatre Festival, People Show Studios London, Circus Space London, Kingston University, Ravensburger Clownschule Germany and Rote Fabrik Zurich Switzerland. Director for Wet Picnic (2008-11), The Two Wrongies (2010-11), Swank (2011), Hijinx Theatre (2012), Extant (2012), Hijinx’s opening and closing ceremonies for Unity Festival, Wales Millennium Centre (2012), Naive Dance (2013), Slightly Fat Features (2012-14), Likely Story (2014), Earth Story with Gemma Rogers & Deanna Rodger (2017), and slapstick consultant for the film installation Trip Hazard (2013).

web design by TORK

 

OFFICE: UNIT 7B LEVEL 3 NORTH, NEW ENGLAND HOUSE

NEW ENGLAND STREET BRIGHTON BN1 4GH UK

T: +44 (0)1273 045039

E: info@spymonkey.co.uk