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The Why Not Institute Autumn Clown Workshops

The world of clowning is full of wonder. It is a place where performers can have the freedom to play and focus on being serious about being silly. True theatrical clowning has applications for actors, directors, cabaret performers and all types of artists. Most of all, it is a world of fun, anarchy and beauty.

Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in the popularity of clowning, culminating in clowns winning prestigious mainstream comedy awards. To celebrate this resurgence, The Why Not Institute is pleased to announce this season of courses to suit everyone's needs. 

Details of the workshops available can be found by clicking on each title below. To apply to book your place, please email

Sat 17 September 2016

Sat 1 October 2016

Sat 8 October 2016 & Sun 9 October 2016

Sat 15 October 2016

'The Pleasure of Playing'

**The State of Playfulness on the performer's work**   
Sat 17 September 2016 - 10am – 1pm / £ 20
Sat 1 October 2016 - 10am – 1pm / £ 20

Sat 15 October 2016 - 10am – 1pm / £ 20

Venue: Kennington London 
For more info and an application form, please email 

In the beginning there was Play

... and Play is everything!

Play is at the heart of clowning. 

For performers, actors and clowns it is important to keep the state of playfulness fresh and alive, to feed the soul and keep it light.  

It is fundamental for clowns to exercise the mind, the body and the spirit. The spirit is often overtaken by the physical and intellectual demands of the job. Very often, it is the clown techniques that get the focus. However, what is a clown without a soul? Without a spirit?  How important it is not to forget that our souls need as much training and feeding as our bodies and minds?

Using simple games and light exercises, ‘The Pleasure of Playing’ will liberate the imagination and brings participants a new burst of energy, focus and awareness. Based on collective non-competitive games, these structured and surprisingly thought-provoking workshop became a must for clowns of all disciplines. 

The Importance of Playfulness:

When we play we are free and when we are free we bring our true selves to the moment, we are spontaneous in our actions and feelings. It is indispensable for clowns to be on the moment. To be free and confident enough to play each moment with purity. This freedom is a source of resources for our material and enables us to expose our ridiculous side and being ‘stupids’. ‘The Pleasure of Playing’ shows you how to transport the freedom and pleasure of playing in to the clown’s work. 

'The Pleasure of Playing' is an introduction to Angela de Castro’s methodology. The workshop is invigorating, inspiring, encouraging and friendly, a must for anyone who wants to reconnect with their creative inner self, the gullible self that is not allowed to appear in our day to day lives.

There is also the element FUN:

‘Fun is a necessity, not a luxury!

I know that you have a lot of responsibilities and that you need a steady flow of time, money and other resources, but regular doses of fun can help you to accomplish your goals. You may protest that you don’t have enough time, money or energy to play. Yet, I can assure you that playfulness is a wonderful investment that yields immediate returns.

’When you have fun and laugh, you relax. This relaxation gives you a greater inflow of ideas, spiritual connections, confidence to follow your instincts and energy. With new inspirations and energy you can better manifest your desires. Your relaxed and radiant personality attracts wonderful and helpful people to you. Your positive outlook creates new opportunities for you. When you look at life in this way, you can’t afford not to have fun.’   (Doreen Virtue)

Why Fun:

For more information and an application form please email:

'The Beauty of Mistakes'

Sat 17 September 2016 - 2pm – 5pm / £ 20
Venue: Kennington London 
For more info and an application form, please email 


How to you respond when something goes wrong? How do you deal with performing in environments you are uncomfortable in? How can you cope with unexpected situations that arise mid performance? How do you ensure you engage the crowd when you are "not feeling it today"?

This workshop will look at how can you turn a mistake or unplanned event into something magical for the audience. It covers a series of tried and tested clown exercises that have transferable skills for all performance disciplines, while introducing you to the concept of your inner clown. The concepts covered will assist those who often find themselves in challenging performance situations – as all artists do – and empower them to turn unexpected and unplanned events into beautiful pieces of entertainment. 

Clowning is a powerful tool. With the clown's mindset, you can approach situations that you may normally find uncomfortable with joy and enthusiasm. Students of clowning often find themselves saying "I had no idea I could that" and it is this phenomena that this workshop taps into.

It's also going to be a lot of fun, and teaching through a series of games means you will leave with a collection of tools and exercises that you can practice on your own long after the workshop has finished.

For more information and an application form please email:

'The Wonder of Magic'

 Sat 1 October 2016 - 2pm – 5 pm / £20
Venue: Kennington London 
For more info and an application form, please email 

The worlds of illusion and clowning have a lot in common. Both can amaze and delight and, when properly performed, both can communicate truths and move us deeply. In this workshop participants will be taught a number of pieces of magic that can be used in conjunction with clowning performances.

Instead of focusing on just the mechanics of a trick, this course will also examine how to craft the story that frames the illusion. By making the magic relevant to the clown's situation, even the simplest trick can become profound and create a lasting memory for your audience.

This course will be taught by expert magician Neil Kelso and clowns Angela de Castro and Kiki, bringing the best of both worlds. By the end of the course you will have been taught a number of tricks that you can include in your repertoire. However, more importantly, you will be provided with a framework for finding the right tricks for your clown or stage persona and the steps you need to take to successfully embed them into your routine. 

This hands-on workshop is for performers with some existing clowning or improv experience, as well as reasonable dexterity and coordination in both hands.

For more information and an application form please email:

'Eccentric Dance: There Is No Business Like Show Business'

Sat 8 Oct 2016 - 10am – 5pm & Sun 9 Oct 2016 - 2pm- 5pm / £65
Sat 8 Oct 2016 - 10am – 5pm / £55
Venue: Kennington London 
For more info and an application form, please email 

Performing traditions of revenue and music hall.
Dance steps and routines of great clowns and comedians to add to your act or show.

Barry and Joan Grantham are an inspiration. They experienced music hall first-hand and have been committed to maintain the traditions of the people's theatre over many decades. 

This workshop will explore the techniques and traditions of British Revue and Music Hall (1900-1950), the time-honoured Show Biz routines such as the Sand Dance, the Soft Shoe, the Can-can, the Charleston, The Hat and Cane routine, as well as all the eccentric steps made famous by performers like Max Wall, Little Tich, Rubberneck Jackley, and Snakehips Johnson!

Open to anyone, even those with 2 left feet!

For more information and an application form please email:

Your Teachers

For There's No Business Like Show Business
Barry Grantham is a performer, director and teacher of Commedia, and a specialist in Eccentric and comic dance.  His background is professional theatre; his maternal grandfather was a Music Hall artiste and his father a classical actor, Barry trained as a dancer with Idzikowski of the Diaghilev Ballet. 

An early career was spent working in almost every form of theatre from fringe and the experimental to the West End, and in films such as The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffman,  In the last days of British Variety he toured with his wife. Joan, learning to entertain its audiences and studying from the great performers of those times

In the 1970’s he began a series of Commedia dell'Arte workshops and performances at the Oval Theatre, and the City Lit, London, and formed the nucleus of The Intention Commedia Company which has continued intermittently to give performances up to the present time. 

He has performed and given master classes in Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, and in Italy itself at the Theatro Municipiali, Reggio Emilia. He is part of the team which runs the Chalemie Summer School now in its 16th year.   He currently writes, directs and appears as guest artiste with various companies as well as running the Intention Commedia Company. Recently he was featured as a dancer in a Weetabix commercial and has now has an art film to be shot later this year. He is the author of the best selling ‘Playing Commedia’  and  'Commedia Plays' published by Nick Hern Books.

Photo by Darius Amini

For The Pleasure of Playing and The Wonder of Magic 
One of the most-loved and respected theatre clowns, Angela de Castro is internationally recognised as a Master Clown teacher, performer and director. She has extensively toured in her own shows, notably her seminal work 'The Gift'; as well as in other productions, such as the Olivier Award-winning 'Slava's Snowshow', in which she created the 'Green Clown'. Other performing credits include 'Under Glass' with Clod Ensemble (Sadler's Wells), 'The New Tenant' (Young Vic) and most recently, 'Treasure Island' (National Theatre). She is International Fellow in Clowning (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland); and one of the six, first 'Dream Time' Award Fellows (NESTA).

Photo by Keith O'Keeffe

For The Beauty of Mistakes and The Wonder of Magic 
Kiki is a cabaret clown, who has performed on the variety circuit for 11 years. As well as touring on the variety circuit, Kiki has spent the last 3 years working on and performing his 5 star clown show The Weatherman. Currently he is creating two new clown shows that have been booked into venues for this year, appearing silently in a musical and also working a project to teach clowning to a group of excellent disabled artists in Cambodia.

Photo by Nomad Creative Studio

For The Wonder of Magic
Neil Kelso performs around the globe in theatres, cabarets, industry events, corporate celebrations, private parties and art galleries. The stories he tell are brought to life using magic, scientific demonstrations, music, psychology, puppetry, improvisation, spoken word and borrowed objects. 

Originally trained at L'Ecole de Cirque de Bruxelles and an award-winning piano player, Neil Kelso's show "Wet Paint" received 5-star reviews and was a sell-out success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and 2012 and since then he has performed at festivals and corporate events around the world. He has appeared on stage on and off London's West End, made international television appearances, designed illusions for large-scale theatrical productions and even performed magic on the radio. His book "Astonishing!" is available on Amazon. In 2015 he co-founded The House of Q - a collective which explores multi-disciplinary collaboration in live arts.