Workshops / Theatre of The Funny Creation School

Apr 22 to May 10, 2024
All day event

Cost £1300


22 April – 10 May 2024

Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm weeks 1 & 2

10am-6pm week 3

In April/May 2024 we are offering our intensive three-week Theatre of The Funny Creation School for the fifth time, aimed at emerging and professional performers who would like to build on their clown and physical comedy work, and take it to the next level of production and performance. It will be led by Spymonkey artistic directors Aitor Basauri and Toby Park, with sessions from our executive producer Emily Coleman. This year we’re excited to be back in London and hosted by Battersea Arts Centre.

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; to inspire and initiate new creative material, and examine how then to work on that new material to move towards performance; to develop participants’ experience of writing, directing and designing for clown and comedy work; and to nurture new performing partnerships that we hope will go on to flourish into the full glory of performance!

There will also be an opportunity to look at how to build a sustainable performing arts business facilitated by Emily that will draw on the experience and knowledge in the group, and will cover pitching an idea, finances, marketing and other areas of best practice Spymonkey consider when delivering a project.

We believe that we have learnt the most about performing by embracing the process of creating work whilst working towards a performance. So we will use this as an impetus to creativity, by working towards a presentation of new work generated in the Theatre of the Funny Creation School, for an invited audience, on the last day of the workshop.

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.

We recognise the lack of access and options into the industry for people from racialised backgrounds and people who have faced barriers to access as a result of either systemic or interpersonal racism.

We strive to ensure our training is a safe and inclusive environment and for this workshop we welcome Dashia Magee who will be supporting us in holding space for everyone to explore their clown and material generated in an equitable and open way.


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

In week 2 we develop the concepts introduced in the first week, and look at them in applied contexts. Led by Toby Park, we will explore some of the physical performance techniques that have been central to Spymonkey’s work, as well as music and song – developing comedic material through musical games and exercises, song-writing, musical theatre, building instrumental ensembles and choreography.

We also cover ‘The Business’ – with sessions facilitated by executive producer Emily Coleman.

We will leave some creative time at the end of the day for participants to work with each other on devising and rehearsing.

Week 3 / Creating, Writing & Directing

Aitor and Toby will lead week 3 together, giving 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 techniques for creating Theatre of the Funny, including elements of melodrama (the pleasure of great acting) and bouffon (the pleasure of parody and the grotesque).

Our aim through the three weeks of the course will be to gather together comedic discoveries, promising double acts or larger groupings of performers, and look to develop these in the context of creating new work. In the afternoons we will have the opportunity to explore as a group how to work on new material.

We will leave some creative time at the end of the day for participants to work with each other on devising and rehearsing.

We will work towards a presentation of some of this work-in-progress for an invited audience at the end of Friday’s session.

Cost and booking policy

£1300 inclusive of VAT

A 20% deposit (£260) is payable on registration (£100 of which is non refundable)

40% (£520) is payable 1st February 2024

40% (£520) is payable 1st March 2024

(Please ask to see our full cancellation policy)

How To Apply

*COURSE FULL – you will be added to the waiting list*

Please fill out the application form here:

And an equality & Diversity form here:


For further information about the workshop please contact:

Course Leaders

Aitor Basauri

Joint Artistic Director & Performer

Founder, co-creator and performer of all Spymonkey shows to date. Performed in The Servant of Two Masters at Sheffield Crucible (1996), Axomate at the Seville Expo (1992), Eulenspiegel (1991) and in Karl’s Kuhne Gassenchau’s Grand Paradis and Stau in Zurich (1997 and 1998). Director of Little Prince for Donkey Productions (1997), Un Vento Impetuoso for La Canoppia (1996) and Meci Y Me Fui for Pez Enraya ( 1997). In 1999 he appeared in Circus Knie, the Swiss State Circus, and in 2000 formed his own company Punto Fijo, based in Bilbao. Appeared in Cirque Images’ 2003 series Solstrom for Bravo Cable Network. Appeared in Bertold Brecht’s Senor Carrera’s Rifles at the Young Vic, directed by Paul Hunter (2007).

Directing credits include: ‘Lily & Marlene’ for La Dinamica (Spain 2015); ’Looking for Duende’ for Teatro Entre Escombros (Spain 2015); ’Hondycops’ for Squadra Sua (Czech Republic 2015); ’Ferucchio Peru is Extraordinaire’ for Leebo Luby (UK 2015); Manifest Destiny (New York 2015); Fabulous Bäckström Brothers (Finland 2014); Entre Escobros ‘600 Teatro’ (Spain 2014); ‘Gloriator’ for Skipstick Productions (London 2013); ‘NMIIDP’ Simone Riccio, (London 2013); ‘Herr Ist Immer Der Natur’ for Die Drei Auf Den Baum (Berlin 2012); ‘Discombobulated’ for Publick Transport (Bristol & UK tour, 2011); ‘Ramshackadelicious’ (Bristol 2011); ‘Shake’ for The Last Baguette (Switzerland 2010). Director of physical comedy for Chichester Festival Theatre’s ‘Mack & Mabel’ (2015) starring Michael Ball. Co-director of Orpheus in the Underworld at Vienna Volksoper operahouse which opens in 2023.

Aitor is an acclaimed teacher of clown, regularly holding Spymonkey masterclasses in London, New York, Berlin, Los Angeles and around the world, and for the Clown Doctors organisation in Germany, Austria and France.

Toby Park

Managing Artistic Director & Performer

Has performed and co-created all Spymonkey shows to date. Studied Drama at Hull University, and trained at Fool Time Circus School, Bristol, and with Philippe Gaulier and Monika Pagneaux in Paris. From 1994-97 he was co-musical director and actor with Karl’s Kuhne Gassenchau in Zurich; member of the Improbable Theatre Lifegame company (1998-2000) including an off-Broadway run. Musical director and composer for: Guy Dartnell’s Would Say Something (1998); acro-dance-theatre Mimbre’s Sprung (2001), Trip-Tic (2003) and The Bridge (2007); site-specific pieces with Graeme Gilmour at Kielder Water Northumberland (2006) and Forth & Clyde Canal Glasgow (2007), and with Phil Supple/The Electric Estate for the National Trust at Cragside Northumberland. Appeared with Petra in Sandi Toksvig’s Christmas Cracker starring Ronnie Corbett at the Royal Festival Hall (2009). TV appearances include Cirque Images’ 2003 series Solstrom for Bravo Cable Network and BBC2 Hyperdrive.

Director of Fabulous Bäckström Brothers, a clown opera in Helsinki (2014), and Big Bang Siegfried with Hagen Philharmonic Germany (2016), Enter The Dragons for A&E Comedy (2017). Director of physical comedy for Chichester Festival Theatre’s Mack & Mabel (2015), RSC’s Merry Wives of Windsor (2018) and Tartuffe (2019) and Jack Absolute Flies Again (2022), both for National Theatre. Co-director of Orpheus in the Underworld at Vienna Volksoper operahouse opening 2023.