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. Julia’s approach to Clown comes from her years studying with and apprenticing Christopher Bayes at the Pandemonium Studio, as well as her training with Philippe Gaulier in France, and Dody DiSanto and Isabelle Anderson at the Academy for Classical Acting. 

Clown Gym continues to build a thriving learning environment and community. There’s a strong ensemble of regular members and always welcomes 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 below. 


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 performers 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.

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. Clown Gym strives to reduce and eliminate systems of oppression within theatre training so that every clown can thrive to their fullest potential.

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 info@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.

History

Honoring our wonderful eight seasons together.

Season 8, 2021-2022

Tuesday nights at Molloy Studios, My Room, and Clinton Cameo Studios

Led by Julia Proctor with guest teachers:

“Character Study” with Joanie Drago

“Dancify That” with Sarah Peterseil

“Don’t Should on Yourself” with Omari Soulfinger

“How To Be An Idiot” with Kate Owens

“Daddy, daddy, look at me daddy” Level 1 Bouffon weekend intensive with Sophie Amieva

“In the Making” Level 2 Advanced Bouffon Series with Sophie Amieva

“Comedians Make the Best Actors” with Ralf Jean-Pierre

“Movement March” with Marissa Molnar (mime), Navarra Novy-Williams + Julia Proctor (Gaga and Play), Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (physical theatre intensive), Tracy Einstein (Alexander Technique) and Aya Tucker (Lucid Body)

“Runway” with Devin Shacket

“Exercism” with Marisa Miranda

“Play the Game” with Julia Cavagna

Launched the monthly Clown Jam!

January – May coached by Ralf Jean-Pierre, Kate Owens, Mark Gindick, Tyler West and Pedro Fabião.

Special Events:

Bouffon Intensives with Sophie Amieva: Level 1 in December, Level 2 in January

“Examining Clown Lab:” a collaborative exploration of inclusivity and power in Clowning

Launched Clown Gym merchandise! New logo designed by Clown Gym member, Mike Ricca.

Season 7, 2020-2021

Tuesday nights virtually on Zoom

Season 7 kick-off with Clown Gym director Julia Proctor!

“Punching Up:” Clowning for Social Justice with Omari + Spark

“Power of Play” with Michelle N. Matlock

“I’m with Stupid” with Geoff Sobelle

“Clown In The Wild” with Ralf Jean-Pierre

“Power of Play” BIPOC workshop with Michelle N. Matlock

“Accidents Will Happen!” with Hilary Chaplain

“Funny For A Minute” with Aitor Basauri

Jan + Feb Special 6 Part Series: “It’s Not About the Banana” with David Shiner

“Daddy, daddy, look at me daddy!” Bouffon with Sophie Amieva

“Playing Yourself” with June Fukumura

“Why Stop the Music?” with Meredith Gordon

“Trickster” with Mike Funt

“Virtual Playground” with Shannan Calcutt

April with Amy G: “Timing, Relationships, Partnership and Devising”

“Party with Proctor!” Play and Devising with Julia Proctor

Sundays Jan through May: BIPOC “Power of Play” series with Michelle N. Matlock

Fall outdoor classes in Prospect Park:

Jarrod Bates

Madeleine Joyce

Marisa Miranda

Special Events:

Noses Off Webinar: what it means to be a clown who is Black in America featuring Michelle N. Matlock, Carolyn Ratteray and Omari Soulfinger, hosted by Lex Alston

An Evening with Sue Morrison: an open forum hosted by Julia Proctor

Do the Virtual Clown Show hosted by Icky Shirley Dangle! monthly January through May

Season 6, 2019-2020

Tuesday nights at Molloy Studios and My Room

Led by Julia Proctor with special guest teachers:

Virginia Scott

“Commedia dell’arte” with Chiara Cimmino and Valerio Vittorio Garaffa from Teatro del Disio

“Moment to Moment Play” with Ben Mehl

January Bouffon Intensive with Sophie Amieva

“Dada Clown” with Joel Jeske

Devising Intensive with Mark Gindick

“Object Manipulation” with Keith Nelson of Bindlestiff Cirkus

“Dancify That” with Billy Schultz

Do the Virtual Clown Show hosted by Michael Galligan and Julia Proctor, weekly March through May

Season 5, 2018-2019

Tuesday nights at Molloy Studios and LaMaMa Studios

Led by Julia Proctor with special guest teachers:

Ambrose Martos

Emmanuelle Delpech of Pig Iron Theatre Company

Chiara Cimmino and Valerio Vittorio Garaffa from Teatro del Disio

January Bouffon Intensive with Sophie Amieva

Dancify That

Season 4, 2017-2018

Tuesday nights at the Artist’s Co-op

Led by Julia Proctor with special guest teachers:

Gabriel Levey

Justine Williams

Aitor Basauri of Spymonkey

Virgina Scott

Produce workshop of Measuring in Cartwheels created and performed by Dinah Berkley and Julia Proctor, directed by Tara Giordano, supported by Dutch Kill Theatre

2018 Spring Clownathon with Sophie Amieva, Emmanuelle Delpech, Justine Williams, Virginia Scott, Lucas Caleb-Rooney, John Towson, Jean E. Taylor, Lenard Petit, Geoff Sobelle, and Jim Calder at Nola Studios

Season 3, 2016-2017

Monday nights in the Basement of Studios 353

Led by Julia Proctor with special guest teachers:

Aitor Basauri of Spymonkey

Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell from Happenstance Theatre

Produce Measuring in Cartwheels, co-created by Dinah Berkley, Mike Baeur and Julia Proctor, performed by Dinah Berkley and Julia Proctor at Project Y’s Women in Theatre Festival, June 2017

Season 2, 2015-2016

Sundays at Cap21

Led by Joe Galan-Kaiser and Owen Scott

Season 1, 2014-2015

Sunday nights at Shetler Studios

Led by Julia Proctor with Founding Clown Gym Members
Emma Simon, Alex Ristov, Billy Schultz, Devin Shacket, Owen Scott, Erin Roy, Royce Hufford, Megan Stern, Tracy Einstein, Joe Galan-Kaiser, Leslie Roth, and Erin Frisbee.

Produce An Unapologetic Mess: a clown show! at The People’s Improv Theatre featuring Julia Proctor as Icky Shirley Dangle and Devin Shaket as Chunky Cricket Discharge with lots of special guest performers.

Early Guest Teachers

Audrey Crabtree, Carter Gill, Cat Meuller, Chris Tramantana, Daniel Passer, Devin Shacket, Ilyssa Baine, Jarrod Bates, Joe Galan-Kaiser, Joe Tuttle, Lindsay Brill, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Madeleine Joyce, Michael Bauer, Owen Scott, Tracy Einstein, Virginia Scott, Zach Fine, and Zach Zucker. 

Clown Gym began in September 2014

Special thanks to Chris Bayes, who inspired it all.