Proposed Workshop Activities – Draft 1


1. Introduction

The facilitator starts with an introduction to clowning. They introduce their perspective and philosophy of clowning and how this can be useful for you in so many ways. They then go on to discuss the ‘clown-state’, i.e. the way of being a clown and how that sense of Playfulness, Vulnerability, Risk-taking and Openness can all be harnessed to enhance your innovation and creativity.


2. Mindfulness For Playfulness

In this first exercise, participants are led through a short meditation to awaken the senses. Attention will be brought to each sense individually, in turn, starting with touch, and then progressively adding hearing, smell, taste and finally sight.
Once all senses are awake, awareness is taken into free space and the openness of the body is explored in relation to the environment, relating to the world and surrounding objects, as if seeing them for the first time. particularly in relation to each other, discovering them as if for the first time, appreciating new characteristics as we have never seen them before.

• openness through physical awareness
• relaxation
• overcoming fear and shyness and building trust in the experience

3. Clap, Jump, Run, Reach

Having started slowly with a relaxation exercise, participants are energised with a game activity. Participants have to follow the orders of the facilitator, walking, stopping, clapping, jumping and reaching up or down as commanded. Once the rules are understood, they start to change. Now every time participants are told to “walk”, they have to stop, and every time they are told to “stop” they have to walk. As the participants respond to these challenges, new changes are introduced: “jump” will mean “clap”, “clap” will mean “jump”, “up” will mean “down” and “down” will mean “up”. At the height of the challenge, the facilitator proposes that anyone who makes a mistake will be eliminated from the game. Each person that is eliminated receives a round of applause, is gently teased and is invited to sit down and watch the rest of the game.
This game raises the tension and excitement in a playful way so that participants openly and publicly fail in front of their peers. Later, attention will be brought to their natural reactions towards failure.

• develop tolerance to frustration
• experience the collapse of the rational
• expose participants to failure in a playful and gentle manner
• challenging excessive self-confidence

4. Dance Like…

In this game, participants are challenged to dance as they would in their living rooms, to dance like no one is watching them. One participant is chosen as leader and everyone else imitates their dance. There is a rapid music change, a new leader is chosen, and the imitations continue. This carries on until everyone has had a chance to lead. The activity is revitalising and energising. It relaxes participants and has them feel a little less self-conscious.

• loosen up the body
• connect with fun, pleasure and playfulness
• challenge uniformity by allowing individual movement to have space and grow.
• build leadership from fun

5. Clown Presentations

As a transition exercise, participants gather in a circle and get ready to accept their clown selves. Everyone gathers together and presents themselves very simply by saying “My name is….and I am very stupid”. If appropriate, the facilitator can perturb this a little by asking the participants to present themselves in different languages, ideally languages which they do not actually speak. By now participants are worn in and this process acknowledges how far they have come along the path of accepting their clown identity.

• Challenge norms of language, imitation and parody
• Challenge overestimation of power
• Acceptance of clownhood


6. Imitation Game

Participants get in pairs. One of them walks into the space, the other follows and tries to imitate their walk. One does a short presentation and the other imitates them. Then the person who was imitated plays themselves by imitating their partner who was mirroring them.

• challenge preconceived ideas of oneself
• see yourself through the eyes of others
• challenge overestimation of power / ego

7. Asking For A Favour

Participants form a circle. Two participants walk to the center. One of them asks the other for a favour. The other has to say “Yes” and oblige. The person needs to find a way to say “Yes” even if what is asked seems impossible. This explores what saying “Yes” enables and to what it might lead.

• creative thinking
• overcoming the “This cannot be” type of response
• encourage innovation and team energy
• challenge the comfort zone

7a. Alternative: Yes And…

Participant gather in pairs. One participant asks the other “What shall we do together on our holidays?” The other person responds “Let’s —-” and the first person replies with “Yes! And…” accepting the proposal and adding to it, trying to build on the idea previously proposed by their partner.

• creative thinking
• overcoming the “This cannot be” type of response
• encourage innovation and team energy
• challenge the comfort zone

8. Crescendo Of Emotions

Participants form a line a line of say 5 clowns, all look to the audience with no emotion. The first person starts with a soft smile, then looks at the person sitting next to them, who takes on the smile and takes it further, making it bigger. Through an effect of contagion and extension, the smile turns into extreme laughter along the line. Thus, the contagion of laughter grows. The same process can be carried out with sadness or anger

• emotional connection between the participants
• growing ideas and feelings beyond realistic standards
• challenge the idea of normality and acceptability
• connecting and listening to each other and allowing oneself be taken by an emotion
• be flexible with others

9. Multiple Uses Of An Object

Every participant chooses and object form their surroundings. They are then told they have 2 minutes to use the object in as many ways as possible. Thinking and talking is forbidden. The facilitator creates a sense of urgency as time runs out. Each participant does this in turn as others watch.

• work under pressure
• build a tolerance to frustration
• develop divergent and “out of the box” thinking
• problem solve – what to do when you don’t know what to do

10. Show A Talent

Every participant chooses to show to the rest of the group their most incredible and unique talent, something only they can do. Most people get confronted with having no apparent talent and end up having to invent unusual proposals

• challenge uniformity
• celebrate quirkiness and uniqueness of every individual

10a. Alternative: Compliment Game – You are an excellent…

Participants gather in pairs. One partner says to the other “They tell me you are an excellent singer / poet / dancer…” the other replies “Oh yes” and will then have to then act out the compliment, showing how great a singer / poet / dancer they are. If the first person is bored or their attention drops, they will pay another compliment as a way of indicating their boredom, their partner will then have to do something else.

• challenge uniformity
• celebrate quirkiness and uniqueness of every individual
• flexibility in response to feedback


11. The Do Nothing Game

In the final act of the workshop, participants are invited to take turns to wear a red nose in front of others for the first time. Each participant walks onto the stage in silence, sits in a chair and tries to do absolutely nothing. The only rule is that they need to say YES to any question or request coming from the facilitator and act upon that response.

• relinquish control
• discover ‘self’
• realise potential

V. Plenary

12. Facilitator- led discussion & feedback

Discussion about the clowning workshop. Covering topics about what worked, what was difficult and the level of difficulty. What was learned about the primary topics of Playfulness, Vulnerability, Risk-taking and Openness. Discussion about what emerged from discomfort and difficulty, what was unexpected and importantly, what was fun.