Latest News

Fabulous Backstroms in Prix Italia

YLE, the Finnish national broadcaster, has just announced they have nominated their broadcast of the Fabulous Bäckström Brothers show as the Finnish entry for the Prix Italia TV awards later this year. The show was co-written and directed by Toby Park and Aitor Basauri of Spymonkey. The show received joyous reception, standing ovations and rave reviews on its visit to... View Article

Posted by > 8 June 2018

Spymonkey job vacancy: Producer (maternity cover)

We are currently looking for someone to fill the post of producer to cover maternity leave from September 2018! Full details and application information can be downloaded here, Applicants will also need to complete a diversity monitoring form downloadable here.

Posted by > 1 June 2018

New Spymonkey collaborations

In parallel with getting our Christmas Carol off the starting blocks for Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, (which went on sale to the public last week and is off to a roaring start apparently), Spymonkey are involved in a number of collaborations with companies across the UK over the next few months: Toby is working as physical comedy director on the... View Article

Posted by > 23 May 2018

Spymonkey announce major new Liverpool Playhouse show

PRESS RELEASE – A Christmas Carol announced for Christmas at the Liverpool Playhouse We are delighted to be able to announce a major new co-production with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse. Spymonkey’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ will play a five-week run at the Playhouse from 8th December  – 12th January. The perfect Christmas show for lovers of laughter, music and Charles Dickens’s... View Article

Posted by > 1 May 2018

May newsletter

  SPYMONKEY MAY NEWS A couple of big things we’ve been dying to tell you about… BREAKING NEWS: Spymonkey announce major new show We are delighted to be able to announce a major new co-production with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse. Spymonkey’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ will play a five-week run at the Playhouse from 8th December – 12th January. The perfect... View Article

Posted by > 1 May 2018

3-Week Clown Creation School launched

We are launching our first ever 3-week course in October, to take place at Toynbee Studios in Aldgate, London.   We’ve been asked frequently by participants of our 5-day workshops whether we could offer a longer course, aimed at taking students deeper into the work and equipping people to make the first steps towards creating a new clown number, or... View Article

Posted by > 30 April 2018

The Fabulous Backstroms speak!

Ahead of their UK premiere at The Old Market in Brighton Fringe, Finnish musical clowns Jouni and Petri Backstrom talk about their collaboration with Spymonkey with The Old Market’s Andy O’Connor.   How did you come to make the Fabulous Backstrom Brothers show? What were the starting points? Jouni: It was a lifelong dream of mine to do a musical... View Article

Posted by > 18 April 2018

A Spymonkey Christmas Carol 2018

Just before Christmas we had our first week of work on a show for NEXT Christmas, working with the same brilliant team that brought you the sell-out show ‘Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Corker’ at Wilton’s Music Hall a couple of years ago. MRS HUDSON’S CHRISTMAS CORKER, WILTON’S MUSIC HALL Here’s a little reminder of the delights of that little gem, Petra’s... View Article

Posted by > 10 January 2018

Upcoming events

Aug
1
Wed
2018
A&E Comedy: ENTER THE DRAGONS @ Edinburgh Fringe Festival, venue tbc
Aug 1 @ 5:00 pm – Aug 29 @ 6:15 pm
A&E Comedy: ENTER THE DRAGONS @ Edinburgh Fringe Festival, venue tbc | Hove | England | United Kingdom

Full performance details will be confirmed March 2018.

Directed by Spymonkey’s Toby Park, designed by our very own Lucy Bradridge.

Winner of Best of the Brighton Fringe 2017.

A chance for Edinburgh Fringe audiences to catch this before these two idiots sashay off into stratospheric international hitdom!

A funny, frank and fearless show about the pressures facing women as they age. Unashamedly subverting our ideas about beauty, sex and feminism, Enter the Dragons takes the archetypal Hero’s quest and reframes it for the mature woman in the modern world. It’s a knock-out combination of joy and dissent for anyone who is considering ageing.

★★★★★ – “They marry hilarity and sincerity with such remarkable precision, it had the audience in both fits of laughter and heartfelt tears”
Broadway Baby

“Abigail Dooley and Emma Edwards are a brilliant comedy coupling: the writing is sharp as a witch’s nose, the performance as sparkly as Cinderella’s silver slippers. A fabulously entertaining evening”
Total Theatre

 

LINKS:

A&E Comedy website: http://aandecomedy.co.uk/

Promo video: http://aandecomedy.co.uk/video/

Interview with Emma and Abigail: http://theoldmarket.com/word-abigail-emma-duo-behind-award-winning-enter-dragons/

Aug
8
Wed
2018
Hijinx Theatre Company: THE FLOP @ Edinburgh Fringe Festival, venue tbc
Aug 8 @ 4:00 pm – Aug 29 @ 5:15 pm
Hijinx Theatre Company: THE FLOP @ Edinburgh Fringe Festival, venue tbc

Full performance details will be available April 2018.

A Hijinx production in association with Spymonkey.

Paris, 1650. Impotence is officially illegal. When a wealthy member of the aristocracy is accused of being less than upstanding, his wounded pride leads him towards a far more monumental and very public flop. But can a cast of total idiots save a show about a flop… from being one?

The creators of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 hit Meet Fred, team up with clown supremos Spymonkey, to present an anarchic, slightly rude, hilarious slice of stupidity, with live music and unfeasibly large wigs.

“Sharp, funny and vastly entertaining” Lyn Gardner on Meet Fred

 

Aug
27
Mon
2018
BERLIN MUSIC, CLOWN & COMEDY @ Tangotanzen Macht Schön
Aug 27 – Aug 31 all-day

27th – 31st August 2018 – 3.5 hrs per day, exact times to be confirmed

Led by Toby Park, Spymonkey jt artistic director & musical director

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For registration details please email Waltraud Boll: waltraud.boll@gmx.de

Presented in association with Maske Und Mantel – Visit their blog here

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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).

Musical performance comes with its own set of recognisable conventions: conventions of genre, of status relationships, of audience expectation, of ‘how things ought to be’. And as comedic performers we are drawn to these structures like kids to a climbing frame – they supply us with the framework on which we can swing, dance, vault, somersault, generally have a ball. We can also fall off them and hurt ourselves: there’s risk and danger there too, which keeps everything exciting.

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 you have an instrument we’ll ask you to bring it with you. But you won’t need to be able to play an instrument, or to sing, or to have done a Spymonkey workshop before, to stretch your musical and comedic sensibilities in order to create new work unique to you.

The Fabulous Backstrom Brothers, Helsinki 2016 – clown opera directed by Toby Park and Aitor Basauri

We made this a while ago now for our show ‘Bless’, but still one of our favourite bit of music and comedy!

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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.

Physical comedy directing work includes Royal Shakespeare Company’s THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR (2018); Chichester Festival Theatre’s MACK & MABEL (2015) starring Michael Ball; The National Theatre’s THE SUICIDE (2016); FANTASTIC MR FOX for Nuffield Southampton and Lyric Hammersmith. Director and co-creator of the Finnish clown opera FABULOUS BACKSTROM BROTHERS at Kapsakki Theatre Helsinki (2014), and BIG BANG SIEGFRIED (2016) for Hagen Symphony Orchestra/Theatre Hagen, Germany; co-director of Emma Edwards and Abigail Dooley’s award-winning ENTER THE DRAGONS; co-director of Hijinx’s opening and closing ceremonies for Unity Festival at the Wales Millennium Centre and THE FLOP (2018); and Spike Theatre’s THE GAMES and SHIP OF FOOLS. Writer on the international fan-show hit GRAEME OF THRONES, including US and Australian tours.

He has taught clown, music and comedy workshops around the world, including NT Young Company, Maske und Mantel Berlin, the National Theatre Connections programme for youth theatre leaders and directors, University of Kent, University of Chichester, University of Northampton, University of Winchester.

Oct
1
Mon
2018
LONDON 3-WEEK CLOWN CREATION SCHOOL @ Toynbee Studios London
Oct 1 @ 10:00 am – Oct 19 @ 7:00 pm
LONDON 3-WEEK CLOWN CREATION SCHOOL @ Toynbee Studios London

This October we are offering a new form of workshop: a three-week autumn school aimed at performers who would like to follow clown and physical comedy work through to full production and performance level, led by Spymonkey founders and artistic directors, Aitor Basauri, Petra Massey and Toby Park, and producer Emily Coleman.

We aim to build a strong ensemble dynamic, to encourage participants to go further and deeper into the work to explore new areas of comedic investigation, and to inspire and initiate new creative material and performing relationships that we hope will go on to flourish into the full glory of performance! There will also be an opportunity to examine the basics of how to build a sustainable performing arts business.

We believe that we have learnt the most about performing from the process of creating and building work towards performance. So we will use this as an impetus to creativity by working towards a final presentation of new work for an invited audience.

The course is aimed at emerging and professional performers of intermediate and advanced levels of experience, 18+. Previous participation in a Spymonkey course will be an advantage but is not a requirement of the course.

Priority will be given to participants taking the full 3 weeks course. Those wishing to attend for single weeks of the course will go on a waiting list, and availability will be at the discretion of the workshop leaders.

Dates: 1st – 19th October 2018 / Mondays – Fridays 10.30am – 5.30pm

Location: Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Rd, London

Week 1 / Clown Foundation

The first week will be an exploration of the fundamental principles of Spymonkey’s approach to creating comedy theatre. Led by Aitor Basauri, we will look at establishing a shared vocabulary of exercises and games: le Jeu, clown, pleasure, complicity, vulnerability, generosity, sensitivity. The emphasis of this week will be on recognising each performer’s unique quality of ridiculousness, and the pleasure of sharing that sense of ridiculousness with an audience.

Week 2 / Developing Clown in Context

Physical Comedy & Slapstick – exploration of comedic physicality and devising tools, led by Petra Massey.

Music & Performance – developing comedic material through musical games and exercises, song-writing, musical theatre, instrumental ensembles and choreography, led by Toby Park.

The Business – optional sessions on running a business for emerging artists: finance, funding, branding and marketing, led by our producer Emily Coleman.

 

Week 3 / Creating, Writing & Directing

Practical tools for making physical comedy work in a range of performance contexts: theatre, cabaret, variety, circus, dance.

In the mornings we will continue to explore creating comedy theatre, including elements of melodrama (the pleasure of great acting) and bouffon (the pleasure of parody and the grotesque), as well as the wider themes introduced in week 2.

Our aim through the whole course will be to gather moments, double acts that we want to explore, build scenes, and look to develop these in the context of creating new work. In the afternoons we will have the opportunity to work on this new material, led by all three of the workshop leaders. This will climax in a presentation of this new work for an invited audience.

 

 

Cost and booking policy

Three week course
£800 (inc. VAT) – early bird places are now fully taken
£850 (inc. VAT) – full price
A 20% non-refundable deposit is payable on registration
40% is payable 1st August
40% is payable 1st September

Single week participants
Priority will be given to participants wanting to study for the full 3 week course.
Participants wishing to take a single week will pay a returnable 20% deposit to join the waiting list, to be confirmed in September.
Single week cost: £340 (inc. VAT) per week

 

To apply

Please fill out the form here: https://www.spymonkey.co.uk/wordpress/oct18-clown-crea…application-form/

 

For other information about the workshop please contact: education@spymonkey.co.uk

 

Picture credit: (c) Spymonkey 2013
Spymonkey devising workshop at Jackson’s Lane, with Jody Kamali, Alex Rex, Matt Sutton, Hew Parham and David Tutton
LONDON 3-WEEK CLOWN CREATION SCHOOL @ Toynbee Studios London
Oct 1 @ 10:00 am – Oct 19 @ 7:00 pm
LONDON 3-WEEK CLOWN CREATION SCHOOL @ Toynbee Studios London | England | United Kingdom

This October we are offering a new form of workshop: a three-week autumn school aimed at performers who would like to follow clown and physical comedy work through to full production and performance level, led by Spymonkey founders and artistic directors, Aitor Basauri, Petra Massey and Toby Park, and producer Emily Coleman.

We aim to build a strong ensemble dynamic, to encourage participants to go further and deeper into the work to explore new areas of comedic investigation, and to inspire and initiate new creative material and performing relationships that we hope will go on to flourish into the full glory of performance! There will also be an opportunity to examine the basics of how to build a sustainable performing arts business.

We believe that we have learnt the most about performing from the process of creating and building work towards performance. So we will use this as an impetus to creativity by working towards a final presentation of new work for an invited audience.

The course is aimed at emerging and professional performers of intermediate and advanced levels of experience, 18+. Previous participation in a Spymonkey course will be an advantage but is not a requirement of the course.

Priority will be given to participants taking the full 3 weeks course. Those wishing to attend for single weeks of the course will go on a waiting list, and availability will be at the discretion of the workshop leaders.

Dates: 1st – 19th October 2018 / Mondays – Fridays 10.30am – 5.30pm

Location: Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Rd, London

Week 1 / Clown Foundation

The first week will be an exploration of the fundamental principles of Spymonkey’s approach to creating comedy theatre. Led by Aitor Basauri, we will look at establishing a shared vocabulary of exercises and games: le Jeu, clown, pleasure, complicity, vulnerability, generosity, sensitivity. The emphasis of this week will be on recognising each performer’s unique quality of ridiculousness, and the pleasure of sharing that sense of ridiculousness with an audience.

Week 2 / Developing Clown in Context

Physical Comedy & Slapstick – exploration of comedic physicality and devising tools, led by Petra Massey.

Music & Performance – developing comedic material through musical games and exercises, song-writing, musical theatre, instrumental ensembles and choreography, led by Toby Park.

The Business – optional sessions on running a business for emerging artists: finance, funding, branding and marketing, led by our producer Emily Coleman.

 

Week 3 / Creating, Writing & Directing

Practical tools for making physical comedy work in a range of performance contexts: theatre, cabaret, variety, circus, dance.

In the mornings we will continue to explore creating comedy theatre, including elements of melodrama (the pleasure of great acting) and bouffon (the pleasure of parody and the grotesque), as well as the wider themes introduced in week 2.

Our aim through the whole course will be to gather moments, double acts that we want to explore, build scenes, and look to develop these in the context of creating new work. In the afternoons we will have the opportunity to work on this new material, led by all three of the workshop leaders. This will climax in a presentation of this new work for an invited audience.

 

 

Cost and booking policy

Three week course
£800 (inc. VAT) – early bird places are now fully taken
£850 (inc. VAT) – full price
A 20% non-refundable deposit is payable on registration
40% is payable 1st August
40% is payable 1st September

Single week participants
Priority will be given to participants wanting to study for the full 3 week course.
Participants wishing to take a single week will pay a returnable 20% deposit to join the waiting list, to be confirmed in September.
Single week cost: £340 (inc. VAT) per week

 

To apply

Please fill out the form here: https://www.spymonkey.co.uk/wordpress/oct18-clown-crea…application-form/

 

For other information about the workshop please contact: education@spymonkey.co.uk

 

Picture credit: (c) Spymonkey 2013
Spymonkey devising workshop at Jackson’s Lane, with Jody Kamali, Alex Rex, Matt Sutton, Hew Parham and David Tutton

 

Dec
8
Sat
2018
A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Liverpool Playhouse
Dec 8 2018 @ 7:30 pm – Jan 12 2019 @ 9:30 pm
A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Liverpool Playhouse

Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Spymonkey present

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Performed by Aitor Basauri, Sophie Russell, Petra Massey & Toby Park

Live music by Ross Hughes & Marcus Penrose

Directed by Ed Gaughan

Designed by Lucy Bradridge

Created by Spymonkey, Ed Gaughan & Matthew Crosby (after Charles Dickens)

LIVERPOOL PLAYHOUSE 8th Dec 2018 – 12th Jan 2019

The perfect Christmas show for lovers of laughter, music and Charles Dickens’s greatest story, brought to life in splendidly festive fashion by those artists of comedic invention and madcap delight, Spymonkey.

Toby Park, Petra Massey, Aitor Basauri and Sophie Russell, alongside director Ed Gaughan, designer Lucy Bradridge and a musical line-up including Ross Hughes and Marcus Penrose, will reprise the creative team behind the sell-out success of Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Corker at Wiltons Music Hall London in 2014.

Don your best Victorian bib-and-tucker and hold on to your stovepipe hat, as you’re whisked through Victorian London and beyond, led by the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future on a flight of theatrical fancy. ‘Not that far back, you irrepressible comedy loons!’ Mr Dickens would surely protest. ‘I’m pretty sure the Nativity story did NOT make an appearance in my Christmas Carol!’.

‘No matter!’ Scrooge will say, dancing a jig through the frozen streets, dressed only in his nightshirt, as he finally understands what Christmas is all about. And so, good friends, will we – with a tear in our eye, clutching our loved ones close about us and counting our many, many blessings!

And one of those blessings is sure to be: Joining us at Liverpool Playhouse for this riotously good-natured musical comedy treat, bless my jiggit!

Tickets go on sale to the public on Tuesday 8th May via the Everyman & Playhouse website: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

photo by John Hunter for RULER
poster design by Toby Park
illustrations by Chris Riddell