Upcoming workshops

MUSIC IN CLOWN & COMEDY @ Toynbee Studios London
Apr 29 @ 10:30 am – May 3 @ 5:30 pm

29th April – 3rd May 2019 / 10.30am – 5.30pm / Cost £350 (£292 + VAT)

Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial St, London E1 6AB

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


This workshop is full and is now WAITING LIST ONLY

To be put on the waiting list please fill out this online booking form.


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.

Suitable for professionals and students of performance 18+

YOU DON’T NEED TO BE A MUSICIAN TO DO THIS WORKSHOP! You need only a sense of curiosity about how far you can stretch the limits of your performing, and the willingness to put yourself into difficult situations in order to make other people laugh at you too.

If you have an instrument we’ll ask you to bring it with you. But you won’t need to know how to play it well, 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!


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 director for RSC’s MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, National Theatre’s TARTUFFE, 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 THE FLOP (Total Theatre Award Nominee), Hijinx’s opening and closing ceremonies for Unity Festival at 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.




GEMMA ROGERS singer/songwriter, performer, playwright says:

“Imagine being in a class with a group of people wearing luminous tutus, beaver tails and loo paper scarves where you are praised for being an idiot. In fact you revel in those words. Because on some level, It means you have succeeded (temporarily) in the complex art of clowning.

“As a writer, words are my ammunition. Without them and armed only with your face and physicality, it can feel strange – scary even –  but under Toby Park’s magical guidance I began to push through the boundaries. With the use of funny improv exercises, discussions and musical instruments ( not to mention Toby tuning several bottles of water to fit the notes for a song from Carmen ) – a group of us  performed songs and  one man acts to a hell of a lot of laughter. I left the Toynbee studios feeling I’d shed 15 years of my life.

“If you ever get a chance to embark on a Spymonkey clowning workshop- be brave and jump at it – no red noses or big flappy feet required.”

gemandthemilmen.com (still from My Idea of Fun)



FIONA COFFEY writer/performer, Honey’s Happening

“Do it!! Leave your inhibitions at home. It’s a super intensive boot camp. Be open. Have fun. Don’t analyse it. Just throw yourself into it. It will change you. For the better.

The detailed personal feedback was superb and extremely helpful. I could understand more about my areas of strength and where and how I could improve. I learned just as much by watching this process with others, as I did when trying things for myself. I particularly enjoyed the feeling of being pushed and challenged to try anything and everything. I felt that a creative crucible had been formed very quickly such that any number of things became possible. I never imagined for example that I would be able to write a comedy song.

Exceptionally good value. The best short course I have been on in a very long time.”


CREATING CLOWN MATERIAL @ Celebration Barn, Maine
Jul 1 @ 10:00 am – Jul 6 @ 5:00 pm

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

In this 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).

“I’ve done three Spymonkey workshops…I’m always banging on about Spymonkey. Whatever, I think they’re totally inspiring.” – LUCY HOPKINS creator of LE FOULARD, winner Adelaide Fringe Best Theatre and Best Performer Awards, Prague Fringe Creative Award.

Register by May 1st and receive a $50 discount. A 10% discount is also available to individuals registering for more than one workshop or for group registrations from the same immediate family or performing ensemble. See the registration form for details.
NOTE: There are no earlybird, ensemble, or group discounts for retreats.

Arrival: between 3 PM and 6 PM on Monday
Departure: before 10 AM on Sunday

For full details of how to book, please visit the organiser’s website: http://www.celebrationbarn.com/event/spymonkeys-creating-clown-material-2019/


BOUFFON @ Celebration Barn, Maine
Jul 8 @ 10:00 am – Jul 13 @ 5:00 pm

Bouffon: Dare to Mock

with Aitor Basauri

July 8July 13

$725 (5 Days)

A love for the grotesque, the forbidden, bad taste, irony, parody, and all things deformed— these are the toys and tools of the bouffon – the outcast who lives to provoke the audience without losing the love of the audience.

In this rich theatrical world, the character lives to provoke the audience without losing their love. The stakes so high that if they lose the love of the audience, the bouffon will get KILLED.

In this workshop we will play games and exercises that will help every performer to find that place where their personal Bouffon is – a place of risk, a place of danger, a place of daring. In contrast to the Clown, the key to the Bouffon is discovering the intelligence of the performer in parodying, their cleverness in simultaneously daring to mock and provoke the audience, whilst staying alive, a balancing act which requires supreme sensitivity.

Register by May 1st and receive a $50 discount. A 10% discount is also available to individuals registering for more than one workshop or for group registrations from the same immediate family or performing ensemble. See the registration form for details.

NOTE: There are no earlybird, ensemble, or group discounts for retreats.

Aitor Basauri is an internationally recognized teacher of clown and physical comedy. Amongst the numerous directing credits to his name, he is most recently co-writer and director of the renowned bouffon Red Bastard’s latest show Lie With Me.

Horrible!  Despicable. Self Indulgent. But enough about me… Aitor Basauri is a fantastic director. He injected humor, depth and theatricality to my work as a bouffon. Highly recommended. But don’t tell him I said that.

-Eric Davis (Red Bastard)
NORWAY CLOWN CAMP @ Nesodden Norway
Jul 27 @ 8:00 pm – Aug 2 @ 8:00 pm

Norway Clown Camp returns in 2019!

6 day comedy workshop led by SpyMonkey’s Aitor Basauri and Toby Park!

Set in the beautiful nature on an Island outside of Oslo, this is a workshop to discover freedom in failure and vulnerability on stage. We will develop sensitivity to the audience through games and exercises.

We will learn to follow our own quirky impulses and stop ‘thinking’ too hard. From this we will develop material for the stage.Suitable for actors, standup comedians, improvisers and public speakers. Minumum aged 18+.

Previous participants include multi-award winning comedians and actors, musicians, theatre technicians, an opera singer and a bus-driver! This workshop is for anyone who wants to surprise themselves, and see what they thought they couldn’t do!

Below is the facebook event link, we often put offers out for our followers on social media https://www.facebook.com/events/456041034800622/


Arrival: Saturday 27th July in the afternoon.

Workshop starts: Evening of Saturday 27th July.

Workshop ends: Evening of Friday 2nd August.

Participants leave on Saturday 3rd August after a night of celebration!

Workshop comprises of 6+ hours of workshops per day.

Price of workshop includes accommodation, food and additional activities.

6 full days of workshops (excluding introduction on Saturday 27th July).

Price of Workshop:- 6900 NOK


For more details of how to book, please visit the Norway Clown Camp website