Holly Stoppit is a Bristol based director, performance research facilitator, dramatherapist and theatre skills teacher, specialising in clowning and improvisation.
Holly Stoppit creates and delivers workshops under Holly Stoppit Workshops and for universities, creates bespoke consultancy / training sessions for theatre companies, community organisations and businesses and directs and facilitates devised and improvised theatre, both freelance and with her own company, Beyond The Ridiculous.
Holly grew up on the road with her family’s circus-theatre company, Arts Play Umbrella, performing and delivering circus-theatre workshops all around the UK. Gripped by clowning at a very young age, tiny Holly discovered an enormous sense of power through provoking laughter from audiences. In adulthood, Holly has sat at the feet of many a wise clown, fool and idiot, diligently soaking up their particular take on comedy and assimilating it with further training in dance, physical theatre, voice work, playwork and meditation.
For over two decades, Holly performed extensively as a clown-musician in circus, street theatre, cabaret, rural touring, schools and theatres with so many companies that the list is frankly ridiculous, but includes Nofit State Circus, The Honk Project, Oily Cart, The Invisible Circus, Ramshacklicious (the street theatre company she co-founded with her brother, Jack) and her show-band, Yupknuckle.
“Holly Stoppit…has the expressive eyes of Wallace’s Gromit and the physicality of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” – The Stage, April 2010
Wanting to share her performance knowledge with others, Holly began freelancing as a director of devised performance in her 20’s. Her directing work ranges from a trilogy of one-man autobiographical tragicomedies to epic promenade site-specific circus-theatre spectacular with a cast of 150. Between these two extremes, Holly has facilitated artists to create just about every type of devised theatre imaginable.
In 2007, wanting to share her processes even further, Holly began teaching adult Clown classes to people from all walks of life in Bristol.
In 2010, Holly’s deep fascination for the transformational potential of creative process led her to studying for an MA in Dramatherapy. Her dissertation research focused on the potential therapeutic benefits of clown skills training for adults with mental health issues; a system which she has coined “Clown-o-therapy.” She has been gradually integrating elements of Clown-o-therapy into her regular clown workshops, offering various opportunities for self-discovery alongside clown skills training.
What the people say:
“Fun, crazy, but educational… it felt really safe and easy”
“Silly, technical, freeing, hilarious, liberating, useful, fun, BRILLIANT!!”
“It’s all a bit of a hysterical blur”
“I loved it, and it was amazing how you managed to put everyone at ease and help us all get so much out of it. It has been brilliant for me both personally and professionally. I’m much more confident using humour and energy in my job, and so much better at engaging with my audience – very important when training and teaching potentially dry subjects. I’m also managing to be more creative for myself, and roll with the punches. You made the learning so enjoyable and easy I didn’t notice I was doing it”
“Holly has a wonderful way of bringing a group of strangers together where they can play in a totally safe environment free from judgement. She frees inhibitions and so helps her clowns to shine. I felt a sense of expansion and excitement for the future when I left her workshop. Like she had opened a window, I felt the sun and breeze on my skin. I just want to climb through…. ”
“Holly’s session helped us to release some inhibitions, use a more creative part of our brain and enjoy being together.” – Bevis Watts, Triodos Bank
Clown teacher, performer and director Holly Stoppit is official Clown-in-Residence at Bristol Museum this autumn, offering free tours, performances and play, plus a laughter yoga workshop, during Clowns: The Eggs-hibition.