Newsletter / May newsletter



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 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!

Join us at Liverpool Playhouse for this riotously good-natured musical comedy treat. Bless my jiggit!

Tickets go on sale to the public next Tuesday 8th May via the Everyman & Playhouse wesite:

Fans of our Shakespeare Deaths cards will be pleased to hear that we are cooking up some cool stuff with master illustrator Chris Riddell (who has also assisted us this time around in creating publicity materials), which we will be releasing alongside the show.

Here’s a little reminder of the delights of the last time this brilliant line-up played together, at Wiltons Music Hall: Petra’s unique reading of the role of King Herod, with music from the fab Ross Hughes, Marcus Penrose and Magnus Mehta. Parental advisory lyrics to this particular rendition…


And our other big announcement…


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

at Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Rd, London

This October for the first time we are offering a three-week course, aimed at performers who would like to follow clown and physical comedy work through to performance level.

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 even a whole show.

So this October for the first time we are offering a comprehensive three-week Clown Creation School, led by Spymonkey 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 more 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.

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.

More information on the events page on our website:


4th – 9th June 2018

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. Led by Aitor Basauri.


4th – 9th June 2018

In the Spymonkey clown masterclass, led by Aitor Basauri, you will learn to discover what makes you funny, hone your skills and practice making an audience belly laugh!More about the Clown Masterclass on our website here.

Contact Daniel Passer on for bookings and further information.


2nd – 7th July 2018

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. Led by Aitor Basauri.


27th – 31st August 2018

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 and explode, unlikely cover versions, speciality variety acts and original music in all kinds of genres and styles to inspire us to new choreographic heights.
In this 5 day workshop led by Toby Park, we will explore how to use music to lead us into unique and totally original comedic territory. It’s all about pleasure: the clown’s pleasure of being ridiculous on stage, the pleasure of playing with our friends, the pleasure of performing music together, the pleasure of aiming high, falling hard and making an audience laugh their socks off.


We are proud and delighted and generally tucked up that the clown opera that Spymonkey made with The Fabulous Bäckström Brothers​ in Finland is coming to the Old Market as part of Brighton Fringe at the end of May. Come and see it – brilliant clowning, high-skill bravura musical variety, Wagner, Johnny Cash, and 3 quite astonishingly gifted musical performers. World class musical clowning.

UK premiere of the Finnish international musical comedy hit, combining opera, pin-sharp musical variety and stomach-crampingly funny physical comedy, directed by Spymonkey’s Toby Park and Aitor Basauri.

A Fabulous/Spymonkey coproduction.

Pleasance Dome / Edinburgh Fringe

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.

“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

Toby Park co-directed this with Will Fearley for A&E Comedy, writer-performing duo Emma Edwards and Abigail Dooley.

Winner, Best Show at Brighton Fringe 2017Details here:

Summerhill / Edinburgh Fringe

Spymonkey have been working with Cardiff-based Hijinx since 2012, when we directed their opening and closing ceremonies for the Unity Festival. This year we have been collaborating with an ensemble of Hijinx performers to create THE FLOP, which Edinburgh Fringe audiences will be able to see before it goes on UK tour in the autumn.


8th – 29th August / venue to be announced
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


Many of our shows are available to order on DVD, or on demand from the Vimeo service, including STIFF, COOPED, MOBY DICK, OEDIPUSSY and THE COMPLETE DEATHS.

Details here:

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