Since our inception in 1998, Spymonkey have created some of the most outstandingly original theatre in Britain, drawing on the disciplines of clown, physical theatre and devised theatre.
Widely acknowledged as world leaders in the field of clown and physical comedy, its members are keenly sought as teachers, consultants and directors for their insight and experience in creating brilliant, original and singular work.
Using the techniques developed through creating Spymonkey shows, they explore how these methods can be used by participants to discover their own unique style of work, through a range of workshop and bespoke activities.
Spymonkey are company-in-residence at Central St Martins, University of the Arts London. Their work has been the subject of numerous PhD and undergraduate theses, and are studied in schools and colleges around the world.
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All upcoming workshops are listed on our here.
New York clown masterclass 2013
New York devising for clown workhsop 2012
An examination of the fundamental principles of our work. Suitable for all levels of experience, from novice to seasoned professional. We regularly host our own masterclasses in London, Brighton, New York, LA, Berlin and Bilbao, and have been invited to teach workshops in Mexico, Taiwan, Colombia, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Canada, USA and Switzerland.
Spymonkey are an internationally recognised devising company. In our devising workshop we open up our toolbox to provide a Spymonkey ‘How To Make Brilliant Work’ guide: character, narrative, improvisations, games, writing excercises, building double-act and larger groups, musicality, song, physicality, dance. Depending on duration and experience of participants, these workshops can climax in an informal presentation performance.
Residencies & Directing
We have acted as consultants and directors for a number of artists and theatre companies, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Cardboard Citizens, Lyric Hammersmith, Extant, Wet Picnic, Slightly Fat Features, ATG, Unity Festival at Wales Millennium Centre, and Clown Doctors International.
Finding Your Funny
In 2015 we piloted a project with Phoenix Futures, the UK's largest charitable foundation for the support of recovering addicts, using the techniques of Spymonkey's clown work to develop life skills and a sense of shared support.
London devising for clown workhsop 2013
We have designed workshops around the requirements of a number of specialist groups including performers with learning disabilities, people recovering from addiction, partially sighted/blind and deaf participants.
Unity Festival THE CLOSING, residency with Hijinx Theatre Company, Wales Millenium Centre 2012
We have a range of teaching resources available. These include:
As a leading practitioner of contemporary clown, devised, physical comedy and physical theatre, Spymonkey's work is studied on GCSE and A-level Drama and Performing Arts syllabuses. They are an associate company of National Independent Schools Drama Association (NISDA).
The company’s work has been the subject of a number of theses and dissertations at bachelor, postgraduate and doctorate level.
More details and updates on our Academic page.
Testimonials & Resources
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.”
Video / Storm Workshop at the Lyric Hammersmith
Workshop symposium for performers of mixed abilities, with Push, Graeae, Frantic Assembly. Video produced by Deafeatures
Liam Woodman / TV writer (NOT GOING OUT, LA LA LAND)
“It was fantastically liberating. The workshop is about being yourself and tapping into what is uniquely funny about you. At first it was pretty intimidating to stand in front of the group with out acting-up or spouting rehearsed funnies, but in time with encouragement, help and expert guidance from wonderful tutor Aitor Basauri it becomes a joy to lose yourself in the moment and improvise. Aitor has a wealth of experience as performer and teacher and was an incisive tutor. The advice he gave each of us students was unique to us, reinforcing the idea that the workshop was about your own private funniness. The group were perhaps the warmest and most generously supportive bunch I have ever had the privilage to work with and that undoubtedly added to the security I felt. Failing or ‘flopping’ became as much fun as getting a laugh, nearly.”
Amy Saunders / Miss Behave - performer (Variety Nighty, La Clique, La Soirée)
"Best workshop ive ever done. safe but playing with risk. light but deep, and FUN! so much fun!"
Mark Winstanley / drama tutor at University of Salford, Clown Lab
"I think that Aitor explained the games and exercises just enough for us to understand but he held back from over explaining if we were a little unsure. As a teacher I know that this is a really delicate balance to strike, explain too much and students play to the end they think you want. Explain too little and they can be totally lost. Everyone had at least one “Golden Moment” on the course. A moment that they will remember for a long time"
Garth Cutter, Manchester - Cutteruption blog
"To say I was nervous on the way to the first session is an understatement. I thought I’d be a fish out of water, a moron, not knowing my stage left from my stage right. As it turned out, it didn’t need to; in fact, needing to but not knowing would probably have been clown comedy gold. Everyone triumphed and flopped at one point or another, even the experienced people, so it didn’t matter that I was new to it... I guess the final question from anyone interested would be: ‘have the workshops been useful’? Yes, definitely: only recently the techniques I learned turned an awkward situation into one of the most enjoyable moments of my relatively short performance career."
Johnny Macaulay / Johnny Electrolux, London performer
"You did a fine job, you pushed but didnt bully, delivered bad news in a "shit sandwich" (complement/ criticism/ complement) and left no-one feeling belittled. I have been on other clown courses and this was one of the best."
Kalki Henenberg / 'Kalki Hula Girl', performer Australia I had never done a clown workshop before participating in Spymonkey's Clown Masterclass. I was terrified before even arriving on the first day - partly because i knew i would be working with mostly professional actors and street performers, and, while i am a performer, my work is essentially visual-sensation/short spots in variety shows. Plus, I hold Spymonkey's work in the highest regard and i didn't want Aitor to know how un-funny i really am. I was quite nervous the entire time, and shy, so i possibly didn't take nearly as many risks as would have benefitted me. But i listened very hard, and a lot did go in, despite being, as Aitor said, Very Estupid. I learned SO MUCH. Aitor has an incredible facility for explaining a point both verbally, and experientially with the use of games and exercises. It was hard work, and it was satisfying, despite day after day flopping left right and center. (And never once managing to master Mister Hit. Not once. Yeesh).
I do believe my own work has benefitted greatly from the workshop and as the information absorbed so intensively has time to resonate from my brain into my body, i think will continue to improve. I would do another one at the drop of a hat."
Peter Daniel Strauss, performer, New York This was workshop number two for me, and I can’t wait for number three! I’ve been moving into some new, exciting clowning territory in my work as a direct result of working with Spymonkey and I’m having so much fun!
Andrea Foa journalist, Italy What an amazing week! Huge, huge thank you to Aitor, Petra and each and everyone of you who took part in the workshop for being so supportive with a non-performer, you made me feel at home from the very beginning, which allowed me to take risks and have fun. Go Spymonkey!
Herma Vos dancer & chanteuse, Holland One week of fun, incredible laughs and such a good time!! Sharing all this with a groupe of adorable people....I JUST LOVED IT.....!!
Vera Chok actress, Malaysia/London Belly-laughter, support, ideas, and real friendships. Definitely returning for future sessions. Highly recommended for those new to clowning, as well as for old hands.
Where we've been
Spymonkey have taught around the world, including:
UK lectures have included:
UK teaching and lectures have included:
University of Kent
National Independent Schools Drama Association conference 2012
Jacksons Lane London
Hijinx/Unity Festival, Wales Millenium Centre Cardiff 2012
Liverpool Everyman 2012
STORM, Lyric Hammersmith London, collaboration with Push & Graeae – June 2009 (here for video clip)
The Peoples Show Studio, London - since Sept 2010
Clown Lab, Salford University - Sept 2010
Lyric Hammersmith - since May 2010
Brighton Festival - since May 2006
Winchester University - since Feb 2010
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff - since Nov 2009
The Rag Factory, London - Nov 2009
Filton College, Bristol - Oct 2009
Circus Space London - Toby and Petra have taught on several BA & BTEC courses since 1995
INSET training for Surrey & Southampton drama teachers - July 2001 & Sept 2002
Leeds Metropolitan University - Nov 2001
Smith Center Las Vegas clown masterclass 2012