Welcome to the Clown Cohort: a year long mentorship for aspiring clown teachers

Born out of our Examining Clown Lab from fall 2021, and hosted by Julia Proctor and Ania Upstill, this new program will provide an opportunity for a small cohort of clown teachers to observe, practice, debrief, and lead workshops over the course of Clown Gym’s 9th Season. 

This one-year (August 2022 – June 2023) mentorship program is designed to support clown teachers with some experience who want to take their teaching to a higher level. Julia Proctor and Ania Upstill will lead the program, in addition to support from the diverse roster of Clown Gym teachers. The goals of the new mentorship program are to provide skills, coaching, and confidence to experienced and developing teachers, and to strengthen our community by growing and diversifying the roster of clown teachers.

Meet the 2022-2023 Cohort

Aya Tucker (she/her) is a clown, physical theatre artist, and certified Lucid Body instructor. Aya holds an MFA in Lacoq-Based Actor Created Theatre (Naropa University, hosted at London International School of Performing Arts). Her original clown act, Kiki and Ted, was nominated for The 2010 NY Downtown Clown Golden Nose Awards (Audience Choice Best Clown Act). As a physical theatre artist, Aya has been seen in devised works in London and New York, including Hold Music. Aya is a graduate of Michael Howard Studio’s One Year Conservatory. Currently, she is the first and only Lucid Body instructor who can teach the technique in Japanese as well as in English. In 2022, she joined the team of Laughter League as a healthcare clown.

Originally from Japan, her mission is to bring what she has learned in Western theatre to the Japanese theatre community and beyond – with self-care, compassion, and playfulness.

Jay Délise (she/they/them) (official jester of Sugar Hill) is a writer, theater artist, and producer based in Harlem, New York. She has performed at The United Nations, The Schomburg Center, The Pulitzer Center, and Carnegie Hall. Their work has been highlighted around the world and in publications including Afropunk, Broadway World, Vagabond City, Glass Poetry Press, and Huffington Post.

“Jester, writer, eater of grapes…etcetera. My therapist once described me as the great disruptor.”

Rachel Resnik (she/her) is an actor, writer, and performer who has toured with her solo shows In Denial, Grown Ass Woman, and Popped Out, internationally. Of her performance at The Adelaide Fringe Festival in Australia, one reviewer wrote: “ever been to a wedding where the bridesmaid is so drunk she makes the kind of cringe-worthy speech that makes your blood curdle? That’s Rachel Resnik, only there’s wit and gender commentary below the clever veil of champagne.”- The Advertiser, 2019.  

Rachel has a certification in mask work and physical theater from The School for Theater Creators in Padova, Italy. She has also trained clown extensively with teachers such as Philipe Gaulier, The NY Goofs, and The Celebration Barn Theater, where she was awarded The Julie Goell Scholarship for Eccentric Women. Prior to moving to New York, she was one of the resident clown teachers at CATSBY, a bi-monthly clown show produced by Chad Damiani in Los Angeles. Rachel just moved from Los Angeles after spending five years living there and being a part of their amazing clown community! Overall, she is extremely excited to be in New York performing and teaching clown, and can’t wait for the upcoming Clown Gym Season!


Program Expectations:

  • Early September 3-hour Manhattan retreat with Mentorship Cohort to clarify expectations and goals
  • Tuesday night Clown Gym workshops (and additional programing as available)
  • Monthly one-hour check-ins with the Mentorship Team. Note: All teachers observed that month are invited (but not required) to attend
  • Informal check-ins with the cohort and teacher in the studio before each workshop
  • Lead at least 2 Tuesday night Clown Gyms in the spring and engage in feedback with the Mentorship Cohort
  • Late May/early June one-day Manhattan retreat to debrief

Program Benefits:

  • Free access to all Clown Gym programming from September through May, which includes:
    • Clown Gyms, Tuesday nights 7:30-9:30 in midtown
    • Clown Jams, monthly coaching sessions for new work
    • Clown Shows
    • Occasional intensives
  • Opportunities to lead warmups/games/exercises and engage in feedback with the Mentorship Cohort
  • Participate in two round table discussions with experienced clown teachers (one in the fall/winter and one in the spring)
  • Stipend for each individual in the Mentorship Cohort is $500