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Freedom in Failing: Clowning and the Art of Play

(5 day workshop)


Dates: 6-10 March    Times: 11am-5pm

​Location: Saint Barnabas Church, Shacklewell Row, Dalston, London E8 2EA

This workshop will explore what makes you funny. We are all humorous in different ways. We each have our own unique comedic self. The clown is at its essence you, not a character you play.

As humans beings we are all fallible and it is this imperfection that gives us our humanity. We are conditioned to always be good and hide our mistakes and faults. Conversely the clown finds pleasure in being bad and does not disguise anything, as a result he finds freedom from the normal constraints imposed on us, in our day-to-day lives. By embodying the true idiotic self, with optimism and sensitivity, we can find freedom on stage, opening up the imagination to find a place of infinite possibilities for laughter and play.

The clown exists in the moment, responding to and constantly finding games with the audience and fellow performers. Through a series of playful exercises, games and improvisations you will be encouraged to take risks, be impulsive and to find the pleasure to be stupid.

On this workshop you will learn:

To follow an impulse

To get out of your head and access the moment

To accept failure and use it to great comic effect

To listen to and be sensitive to an audience

To be light and playful and to find 'the game'

This workshop is suitable for beginners and experienced performers.


“As a teacher of clown and comedy Dan is outstanding. For anyone wanting to find inspiration to take their comedy to another level or if you are just starting to explore clown Dan’s workshops are invaluable. Every day was revelation and a joy”

Matthew Truesmith, actor and former Head of MA Acting at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts 

"Dan creates a beautifully playful and safe environment"
Stephen Sobal, Artistic Director of All In Theatre.


"Dan is the real deal"

Phillip Burgers, Dr Brown

Dan Lees is a multi award-winning clown and director. Dan has facilitated workshops for numerous theatre companies and he has taught clowning and physical theatre at the National Centre for Circus Arts, London Studio Centre, Mountview and East 15 drama schools.


His performing credits include: 'Clown Jam' (2022, Soho Theatre), 'The Flop: A Band of Idiots (Winner Malcolm Hardy Award for Comic Originality 2022), 'Nina Conti: The Dating Show' (2022, Soho Theatre, Arts Theatre), 'The Establishment: Le Bureau De Strange' (Winner Adelaide Fringe Weekly Award for Comedy 2019), "The Establishment: Eton mess" (2017, Assembly Festival) 'Derailed' (2017, National Theatre, Oval Theatre) 'Dr Browns Devised Ensemble' (2017 Soho Theatre), Brainchild (Winner Judges Award for Theatre Mimetic Festival 2014)

His directing credits include; Julia Masli and the Duncan Bros: 'Legs' (2019, Soho Theatre, Malcolm Hardy Award for Comic Originality), 'Logs' (2021, Soho Theatre), 'We Must Live' (2019, Offie Award Nominated, Voila Festival), Zuma Puma: 'Don't it, Don't it, Do it!' (2019, The Space UK) Viggo Venn: Club Comedian (Edinburgh Fringe 2022)

Dan regularly tours with Clowns Without Borders UK, a charity that aims to improve the quality of life for children and communities living in crisis all over the world, most recently he ran a workshop for a group of Syrian circus performers at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jorden.

Dan is a co-founder of the London Clown Festival.


£280 (early bird price, must book before 1st of Feb) Full Price £300
£270 conc. (unemployed or full time student)  Evidence required.


For more details and to reserve a place email: You will be required to pay a £100 deposit to book your place and then the remainder by 10th Feb.


The deposit is non-refundable but can be used for a future workshop.  You will be required to pay the remainder by the 10th of Feb otherwise you may lose your place on the course.

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