Clown Workshops

A Modern Clown User Guide

World renowned New Zealand and Australian clown teacher, Alan Clay's book on clown, Angels Can Fly, is now available for the Kindle, iPad and Kobo readers, as well as in paperback.

Released in 2005, Angels Can Fly has gathered a dedicated following amongst professional clowns and would-be performers for its insight into the practical aspects of performing as a clown. See the reviews below.

The book is now in use in the drama departments of over 200 Australian, New Zealand and American secondary schools and is a recommended text in clown courses in a growing number of US and UK universities. Check out the Angels Can Fly page for a review of the book from Mask - the Journal of Drama Victoria.

This is a textbook for a fast changing art form. The traditional approach to teaching clown is routine or gag based and this sits uncomfortably with teaching practices in modern performing arts education and with today's audiences.

Buy the paperback on Amazon 

Kindle Reader

Angels Can Fly has been released for Amazon's Kindle Reader. This is available for all mobile devices including the Blackberry, iPhone, iPad and Android phones, as well as for the Mac and PCs.

Buy the Kindle edition for US$7.69 from Amazon.

iPad Reader

Angel's Can Fly
has been released for the Apple iPad and can be purchased through the iBooks app at iTunes. (US$9.99)

Kobo Reader

The eBook can also be purchased for the Kobo reader through Whitcoulls (NZ$10.95) or Borders (Aus$9.95) or Angus & Robertson.

"The Angels Can Fly eBooks are my recommended way to read this book, because you can search the text and the exercise prerequisites and co-requisites are linked for easy reference. The paperback however does include over 70 photographs." Alan Clay

The book includes a mix of fiction, following the adventures of ten clown characters and some personal clown anecdotes from clowns from around the world, including US clowns Hilary Chaplain (pictured above) and Drew Richardson (pictured below).

It also includes some theory on the nature of modern clown, as well as 50 practical clown exercises appropriate for workshops or performance, developed by Alan Clay through 30 years of teaching in Australia, Europe, America and New Zealand.

Many of these exercises have been posted on this site and you can find links to them below.

There are warm-up and introductory exercises in the early chapters of the book, mid-session or mid-course exercises in the middle chapters, and more performance-oriented exercises, and relaxation exercises, in the final chapters. Specific prerequisites to any exercise are detailed in each chapter.  The exercises have all been coded for individual exploration, for work in pairs, for workshop use, or for use in a performance setting, or for some combination of these.

“Clown is a fascinating, diverse, complex and exciting art form, which has existed around the planet for thousands of years. Like any art form it has to evolve to stay relevant to the culture nurturing it, and at the same time, and by its very nature, clown teases and turns upside down the cultural patterns and boundaries around us.”

If you'd like to view a preview of Angels Can Fly from Google Books, click this button. 

Buy the paperback on Amazon 

Alan Clay

Alan was born in 1954 in New Zealand. He attended a Clown School in Sweden in 1977 and has since taught and performed extensively in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Alan lived in Sydney from 1992 to 2006, where he ran Playspace Studio, a physical theatre training centre in Newtown, which gained international recognition for a uniquely irreverent Australian approach to clown.

Following this, for several years Alan toured a 5 day workshop throughout Australia and North America and for the past 3 years he has been teaching 5 day residential clown retreats in Wanganui, New Zealand. Throughout this period he has been exploring and developing his teaching practice. 

Playspace clown training has a physical and emotional focus, and encourages a theatrical and irreverent approach to the art form. Alan is now launching a new 3-week Clown Summer School to be held in Wanganui in January 2012.

Stocked in Libraries in Australia, New Zealand and USA

Angels Can Fly is in many libraries in Australia, New Zealand and USA. Check with your library to see if they have a copy. i


Michael C. Getlan "caring clown" This is a terrific book, and should be read and used frequently. The stories about the real clowns are inspiring and the exercises are practical and important, especially if you are serious about exploring the clown in you.

Julie A. Wright "Jewls" This unusual book has a lot of good character development, audience interaction exercises. It is also a novel about street performers and includes several entertainers biographies all mixed together. For a vary enjoyable educational read.

And why not check out Alan Clay's new clown film, Moontan, which was shot last year in Wanganui, New Zealand, staring Annette Devick from Canada and Mark Hudson from Australia, (pictured).

Or you can check out the clown workshops that Alan is teaching in the next few months in New Zealand and Australia, or read the Angels can Fly - Blog, which tells the inside story of the publication of Angels Can Fly, and where you can also find many of the exercises and the anecdotes from the book.

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last updated 22 July 2011