About Us

Who we are and what we do.

Clown Gym started in 2014 as a collaborative member-sourced experiment in play. Over the years it has grown into one of New York City’s most reliable sources for affordable high-quality actor training.

Clown Gym Director, Julia Proctor, leads classes in addition to welcoming lots of guest teachers from a wide range of backgrounds and pedagogies. A powerful training tool for actors, clown helps connect you to the more spontaneous and generous impulses of your work. It’s funny. And not funny. But that’s funny, too. 

Clown Gym strives to build a thriving learning environment and community. There’s a strong ensemble of regular members and we always welcome brand new folks eager to grow and play. The goals of the Tuesday night drop-in classes are to offer new skills, strengthen new and existing muscles, and connect artists in community through experimentation, laughter, and play.

In addition to the beloved Tuesday night classes, Clown Gym offers intensives, mentors and supports teachers, produces shows, and hosts a monthly “Clown Jam,” a supportive place to workshop material in process under the guidance of an experienced coach. Check out our full offerings

Clown Gym is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Clown Gym must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Read about our history

Julia Proctor

Founder and Director

Julia Proctor (she/her) is a performer, educator, and community builder. In 2014 she founded Clown Gym as well as “An Unapologetic Mess: a clown show!,” a monthly mess at the People’s Improv Theatre, sharing her own work and mentoring emerging artists. As the Director of Clown Gym, Julia oversees all programming and operations, which includes weekly classes, monthly coaching sessions, weekend intensives, shows, community events, and the new Clown Cohort: a year long mentorship for aspiring clown teachers. During the early pandemic she co-produced and hosted 20 “Do the Virtual Clown Shows,” which were a source of creativity and joy for a growing community around the world.

Julia earned her BA from Middlebury College and MFA from Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting. She has studied with some of the most prestigious clown teachers in the world including Philippe Gaulier and Chris Bayes, with whom she completed a pedagogical apprenticeship. Julia is an improvisor, and completed the People’s Improv Theater’s Improv Program.

Julia was a founding member of the Funny School of Good Acting’s Commedia Company, and is a proud member of Actor’s Equity. She devises and performs her own material, and loves collaborating with other artists on smart, funny, and innovative theatre.

She currently teaches Physical Acting with a focus on Games and Shakespeare’s Clowns at New York University’s New Studio on Broadway in Tisch Drama, and has been on faculty at Pace University (Clown), at the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (Clown and Le Jeu), and was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Middlebury College (Clown, Creative Process, and Acting 1). She was Beanie Feldstein’s personal Clown Coach for the Broadway revival of Funny Girl.

Julia believes theatre, especially theatrical clown, is a powerful tool to build community through shared visceral experiences.

Ania Upstill

Co-Leader of the Clown Cohort

Ania Upstill (they/them) is a queer and non-binary performer, director, theatre maker, teaching artist and clown. A graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre (Professional Training Program), Ania’s recent work celebrates LGBTQIA+ artists with a focus on gender diversity. They have toured to Palestine with Clowns Without Borders USA, performed clown and drag acts at venues in New York City including House of Yes, The Duplex and The Tank, and their solo clown show, Transhumance, won a Best Weekly Award for Physical Theatre and Circus at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2020. As a teaching artist they teach for Lincoln Center Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Opening Act, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC and more.

Huxley Rain Garrett

Administrative Assistant

Huxley Rain Garrett (she/they) aka Brand New Full Frontal Holiday Tadpole is a queer theatre artist and early childhood educator. Huxley earned her BFA in Drama with a minor in Applied Theatre from NYU Tisch. While in school, Huxley fell in love with Clown while training under Zack Fine and Lucas Caleb Rooney. After graduating, Huxley decided that they wanted to focus on clown exclusively and discovered the wonderful Clown Gym community. In the past year, Huxley has had the opportunity to train in Clown and Bouffon with incredible teachers including Julia Proctor, Chris Bayes, Eric Davis, Sophie Amieva, Kate Owens, and Aitor Basauri. Huxley is currently working on devising her first solo show, a piece about wanting to have been a child star!

Mission and Community Guidelines

Learn more about our goals.

Clown Gym’s mission is to build community, spread joy, and support artists as they embrace their humor, beauty, frailty, skill, intelligence, passion, and dreams. We do this through affordable high-quality training, teacher mentorship programming, new work development, performances, and community events focusing on clown and physical comedy. We work to create an inclusive, anti-racist, and welcoming space for folks to train, connect, and perform, in addition to actively producing programming that aims to diversify the clown community.

As individuals and a community we agree to

  • Call people what they wish to be called (names and pronouns).
  • Acknowledge the impact of our words and actions.
  • Respect physical and emotional boundaries and consent.
  • Take space/make space in all gatherings, so that all participants have equal opportunities to participate.

In the space you are encouraged to:

  • Pause or stop if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Pause or stop if you’re concerned for someone else’s safety.
  • Say “No, but….” in a game or improvisation. It’s not always “Yes, and….”

We will not:

  • Tolerate violence, no matter the intention.
  • Tolerate hate, no matter the intention.

If you are not able to strive for and maintain these agreements, you will be asked to leave Clown Gym.

You are always welcome to offer feedback on your experience at Clown Gym to Julia Proctor. Email her at julia@clowngym.com or reach out in person.

These community guidelines are a living document and are subject to change.

Photos by Clown Gym member, Michael Wilson.