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Who we are


Contemporary Clowning Projects (CCP) is Angela de Castro's production company, promoting performance, production and projects by de Castro and other artists, focusing on theatre clowning and theatre traditions. CCP is dedicated to an exploration of the process and effect of the state of clowning on creativity and effectiveness for actors and theatre practitioners, as well as people in business, education and many other walks of life.

- Our vision

Contemporary Clowning Projects is an organisation with a passion for the art form of clowning and its use for people in all sorts of professions.We believe in the vital role of clowns as entertainers and as artists. We believe that, throughout history and still today, clowns have an essential role to play in societies and the world. Clowns are tellers of truth, subversives in society.

Despite a long and honourable tradition of clowning in this country, it is still a misunderstood and undervalued art form. The art of clowning is one of the greatest and most difficult of them all. Clowning is about communicating truth in its purest, rawest form. It demands great courage and discipline from the performer, yet reaches out with simplicity to engage the audience.

Contemporary Clowning Projects seeks to validate, celebrate, investigate, develop and reclaim recognition for Clowning. We aim to:

  • provide wider opportunities for people to access and enjoy the work of a wider range of clowns and clowning
  • change public and 'arts industry' perceptions aboutclowning and to promote the status of clowns within the industry
  • promote high standards of challenging and innovative clowning in the UK
  • undertake serious, in-depth research into the use of the state of clowning in theatre, business, education and many other walks of life
  • develop a network of peers for clowns, for mutual support, research, training and personal development
  • support the development of Angela de Castro's projects and research
  • make links between audiences and professionals in the UK and internationally and act as a networking point for clowns across the world.

- What we do

Lead by Angela de Castro as Artistic Director, Contemporary Clowning Projects runs a wide range of theatre productions, collaborations, research and innovative developments linking clowning with the worlds of acting, performance, education and business.

Over the years, the work of Angela de Castro has grown into an in-depth, serious investigation into the 'state of clowning', which we call 'the clown's intelligence'. Angela de Castro's work as a thinker and researcher into the state of clowning has led to profoundly transformative work within theatre, business and education.

This work has been commissioned, developed in collaboration with and supported by:

  • Nesta (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts,England
  • the Arts Foundation, England
  • the Arts Council England
  • Battersea Arts Centre, England
  • ArtsEd - Arts Educational School, England
  • Ernst Busch Drama School, Berlin, Germany
  • the College for Actors in Bochum, Germany
  • the Folkwang University in Essen, Germany
  • the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Professor Louise Peacock at Hull University, England

- Angela de Castro
"a genious clown who is like Buster Keaton, holding that beautiful balance between complete and utter fragility and complete power."

Due South Magazine

Angela de Castro has been performing since she was 17 years old, beginning in her native Brazil where she was a well known actress in theatre, film and television and director of her own theatre company. She was a member of the original cast of the ground breaking show 'Macunaima' (1977-1980), which changed the face of Brazilian theatre and played to an audience of over half a million people in Brazil alone, as well as touring internationally for over two years.

In 1986 de Castro moved to London to pursue her dream to study, perform and reclaim theatre clowning as a modern art form. She has toured the UK and internationally with the major contemporary theatre and circus companies and is well known as a teacher of her master class 'How To Be A Stupid' or 'The Art of Creative Intelligence'.

Angela de Castro recent performing work could be seen in 'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson adapted by:Bryony Lavery directed by: Polly Findley,(National Theatre, Olivier Theatre, London, England) 'The Gift' (Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Brazil), 'Under Glass', by the Clod Ensemble (London), 'Laughing Matters', work in progress, Battersea Arts Centre London, Bristol Old Vic and Jyvaskyla Festival Finland, 'Luz Nas Trevas' feature length film (Brazil), 'Futurology' a National Theatre Scotland, Suspect Culture Theatre Co and Brighton Festival (UK), Ionesco's 'The New Tenant' for the Young Vic Theatre and is well known for her clown Rough, the green clown, in the award winning Slava's 'Snowshow'. She creates and tours her own shows under her own company Contemporary Clowning Projects. Her shows include 'The Gift', 'My Life Is Like A Yo Yo', 'only fools (no horses)' a show about the Shakespearean Fools, 'Laughing Matters', 'Foreigners' and 'Alone: All+ One', are projects in development.

Angela de Castro is one of the most loved women clowns. She is a leading theatre practitioner, actor, teacher, director and speaker. Her performances and methodology have been well recognised in the UK and abroad, awarding her, among a few, a Lawrence Olivier Award (UK) ,the Golden Nose Award (Spain), the Nesta Dreamtime Fellowship, an Arts Foundation Fellowship and an International Fellowship by Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama for her contribution on the art of clowning.

Theatre clowning is a life's passion and way of life for de Castro. She doesn't stop working. She is completely dedicated and committed to her work. She is always working on shows, directing and mentoring other companies, developing her own clowns' personas and learning how to play the ukulele. When she has some free time, she can be seen browsing around street markets, riding her beloved motorbike and feeding the ducks in the park near her house.

 

For further information, click here to download Angela de Castro's CV.

- Collaborators, supporters and advisers

  • Joseph Seelig and Helen Lannagham - directors of Lodon International Mime Festival, England
  • Ali Williams, Artistic Director of No Fit State Circus, Wales
  • Beth Hardisty, administrator at Stratford Circus, England
  • David Duchin, producer at People Show, England
  • Orit Azaz, independent creative director and facilitator, England
  • Alex Murdoch, theatre director and co diretor of Cartoon de Salvo, England
  • Karen Fisher, theatre producer, England
  • Louise Peacock, Senior Lecturer at Hull University, England
  • Prof Marina Busse, Lecturer at Folkwang University, Germany
  • Academy of Dramatic Arts Ernst Busch, Germany
  • International Clown Festival 'Anjos do Picadeiro', Brazil

- History

Contemporary Clowning Projects began in 2000 with the aim of promoting Angela de Castro's work and encouraging a wider investigation into the state of clowning.

One of CCP's core projects is The Why Not Institute, a resource in which performers and others can learn and train. The Institute creates a space for people to try out clowning and for clowns to be recognised and validated. The idea came from students attending de Castro's clown training course 'How To Be A Stupid', who asked 'what next?' Students and professionals find themselves jumping from class to class, teacher to teacher, until they are left by themselves, out on a limb. de Castro had a dream to create a space for clowns, theatre practitioners, and others, to investigate, research, try out, develop and progress in this art form. This is The Why Not Institute.

Originally an award-winning actor in her native Brazil, Angela de Castro had already been working as a clown for 10 years when she met Slava Polunin in 1995 and began a collaboration that created the Green Clown in 'Slava's Snowshow'. This show brought clowning to a wide audience: clowning as much about tragedy and metaphysics as gags and slapstick. Wordless, often still, with a highly creative visionary use of the proscenium arch space, yet also funny and accessible, this show amazed, inspired and transformed audiences. de Castro's role as the creator of Rough, the Green Clown, was applauded around the world.

Following the establishment of CCP and The Why Not Institute, in 2002 CCP developed and toured 'My Life Is Like A YoYo', a show based on de Castro's life. Working with Brazilian designer Roberto Manieri, this continued CCP's interest in strongly visual and sometimes darkly powerful clown work. The show was supported by Battersea Arts Centre, the Arts Council England and the Brazilian Consulate in London.

The following years saw many long-standing directing and teaching collaborations, for example as co-director and consultant with Giffords Circus; with clown festivals Anjos do Picadeiro in Brazil and the Women's Clown Festival in Andorra; with the London International Mime Festival; and long-standing training collaborations with the Ernst Busch and Folkwang drama schools in Berlin and Essen.

The next large production project - 'only fools, no horses' - also received Arts Council funding. This middle scale show took three Shakespearean fools and put them in their reality, out of the plays, often in mid-air with rigging and the assistance of trapeze and choreography experts. Developed at the Riverside Studios in 2003, directed by John Wright and written by Sarah Woods, the show toured the UK in spring 2006.

In 2012' The Gift', de Castro's seminal show, was re-designed and re-produced, touring in Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Brazil. 'The Gift' is a heart-warming tale in the great tradition of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin giving a universal message of love, hope and truth.

In more recent years, CCP has produced de Castro's work in progress show 'Laughing Matters' and courses in Laughter Yoga.

Also in 2012, CCP worked in partnership with No Fit State Circus, the National Circus of Wales. Cabaret Collective was a development support process for emerging talent, which show-cased the work of over 15 artists.

Angela de Castro has been a performer all her life. An award-winning performer, director and producer in her native Brazil, in 1985 de Castro moved to England to pursue her dream of clowning. She is a Nesta Dream Time Fellow; an Arts Foundation Fellow; an International Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama; a recipient of many Arts Council grants; and has been a member of the Arts Council England Circus Advisory Committee and a juror for the Jerwood Awards for Circus. She toured with ground-breaking modern circus and theatre companies such as Mummerandada, Ra Ra Zoo, and The Right Size, and is well known for her clown Rough, the Green Clown, in the award winning Slava'sSnowshow. She has extensively toured her own shows, and is founder and director of The Why Not Institute. Clowning is a life's passion and way of life for de Castro.

- What they're saying
'Angela de Castro is, in my opinion, the world's leading researcher and pedagogue in theatre clowning, and an outstanding performer in her ownright. UK theatre and theatre training is the richer for having her as a resident in this country. She has worked with major companies including the National Theatre Scotland, and makes major contribution to the training of emerging artists across the UK. Without her work, British theatre would be greatly impoverished.'

Prof. Maggie Kinloch FHEA FRSA, Vice Principal, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, Scotland

'... can make you laugh and cry in the same moment, a sign of serious talent.'

Everywoman June 1996

'... is a genius clown who is like Buster Keaton, holding that beautiful balance between complete and utter fragility and complete power.'

Due South Magazine July/August 1989

'... a tremendous Brazilian performer who is the last word in poignancy.'

The Independent

'This time Polunin is accompanied by the amazing British-based but Brazilian-born clown Angela de Castro, an outlandish, dumpy and almost Beckett-like foil whose outsize boots dog Polunin's every move. (Who said women can't clown?)'

Time Out February 1996

'Forget circuses, here is the full metaphysical force of clowning at the highest level, offering one of the most simultaneously sublime and exhilarating experiences to be had this Festival time. Two doleful characters captivate the audience to an unprecedented degree: adults become children once more, helplessly held and enraptured by the skill and subtlety of this wordless unfurling of humanity.'

The Scotsman August 1996

'Prepare to be entertained. One blink and you are in danger of missing something ludicrously funny.'

The Voice on 'The Gift' November 1994

'This is clowning at its best, and it is especially exciting to see a female clown achieving an effect comparable to the best of the silver screen stars.'

Festival Times review of 'The Gift' 1991

'Her own work and attitude suggests a strong affinity with the master of the genre, Dario Fo.'

Newbury Weekly News May 1992

'The multi-faceted Angela de Castro.'

Spare Rib Magazine 1992

'... the very funny Angela de Castro.'

City Limits September 1993

'the trump card of this production is Angela de Castro. As a professional clown, her work alone is already worth the price of the ticket.'

Evening News , 'Futurology' 2007

' ... an admirable Brazilian clown'

The Scotsman - 'Futurology', 2007

'Angela de Castro is an extraordinary actress...'

Newbury News - 'only fools (no horses)', 2006

'... De Castro's performance touches the soul'

Reviews Gate - www.reviewsgate.com, 'My Life Is Like A Yoyo', 2002

'Brazilian actress conquests London as a clown.'

O Estado de Sao Paulo, May, 1997

'...the complete metaphysical power of the clown on its highest level'

The Scotman, about Angela de Castro in 'Snowshow' 1998

'... her workshops are very enjoyable, funny, atractive and captivant that I've ever seen. She combines a truly passion for what she does with an immense tecnique and skill. It is a real pleasure to observe Angela teaching her workshops and it is a source of inspiration for who shares her passion. I, sincerely, believe that my students are really very lucky to be taught by her.'

Jackie Clune, lecture of the Royal Holloway New College, University of London, 1995

'... the enthusiasm of the participants and the popularity of this workshop was beyond all our expectations'

Clare Muldoon, Artistic Director of the Hackney Empire Theatre, London, 1997

'Angela de Castro is a quite extraordinary woman who passionately believes in her work. Personally, I would say she is inspirational as a teacher, although she breaks every rule in the 'What makes a good teacher?' Ofsted handbook. Still, it is very hard to quantify the experience of working with her.'

Sue East, Head Mistress of St. Julian's Primary School, Wellow, England, 2006

'Over the years, Angela de Castro's work has changed our students in a dramatic way. They went through an astonishing maturing process and at the end of this process everything they have learned at the school had a completely new quality.'

Prof. Viola Schmidt, Head of Voice and Speech, Academy of Dramatic Arts Ernst Busch, Berlin, Germany, 2012

'The nature of Ms. de Castro's work is highly specialized and specific to her person, no other professional in the clowning arena is able to convey the techniques of this special art form in a way that makes them relevant to contemporary performing arts. In addition to these techniques, she has demonstrated the ability to convey a set of values that go beyond the realm of clowning and have helped the students tremendously in their human and creative development.'

Prof. Marina Busse, Folkwang University, Essen, Germany