Welcome to the site dedicated to the writings of New Zealand author, filmmaker and clown teacher Alan Clay. Check out the new video of Alan speaking on the screenwriting panel at the Indie Gathering Film Festival in Ohio, USA, which you will find in the bio section below.
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
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$9.99 from Amazon.
Angel's Can Fly has been released for the Apple iPad and can be purchased through the iBooks app at iTunes. (US$9.99)
"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
Here are some of the reviews which have been posted on Amazon:Good attempt to explain what is at the heart of clowning,
2011By J. Davison "Jon Davison" (London/Barcelona)
This book has been around for a few years now, and I find I do re-visit it occasionally, and recommend it to those who are serious about understanding what is at the heart of clowning. It's a curious volume in that there are really three books in one here, but not laid out one after the other. Instead, the three interweave and take the reader from practice to philosophy via fiction.
What really kept me reading at first was the novel telling the experiences of a bunch of street performers. Though not strictly clown performers, these characters wrestle with how to "be in the moment", how to reach the audience through honesty. These are struggles that can rarely be communicated unless you've actually been out there and done street performing yourself, and the fictional mode seems to be the best way to get give at least some impression of what it is that drives us to seek out strangers in the street and do silly things for them and then get them to give away their money.
The exercise sections are comparatively sparse, but that is no bad thing. Very rare is the book on clowning that contains vast amounts of good practical advice, but there have been quite a few examples of the genre in recent years that have fallen flat on their face. The third section brings us a range of thoughts from several other performers as well as Alan himself, and gives the aspiring performer something to ... aspire to!Helpful, inspiring,
2008I just got the book one day ago. It pulled me through. although i work in the field of clown for quite a while it is a great book to learn, remember and to remind you. thanks a lot for putting a the stuff together. Great job, Daniel.
By Fritz "DM-Fritz" (germany)
2005This 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.
By Michael C. Getlan "caring clown" (New Rochelle, NY)
Good character development,
2005This 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 very enjoyable educational read. Julie "Jewls" Wright
By Julie A. Wright "Jewls"
Alan 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.Film
In 2007 he produced, wrote and directed the short film Moontan, a heart warming story about two street clowns swept up in the occupation of New Zealand�s last Victorian theatre, the Royal Wanganui Opera House. The script was an adaptation of his first novel, published in 1995.
Moontan screened at the Fringe Film Festival in Wellington, New Zealand in July 2007, and in the Market at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival 2008 and the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival in France. A DVD was released in 2009, which includes a 20-minute 'making of' documentary.
Alan Clay produced, wrote and directed his first feature film Butterfly Crush in 2009, which he adapted from his novel Dance Sisters. The film was released in New Zealand in 2010 and will be distributed in North America by Vanguard Cinema. Alan talked about writing the script for this film on the screenwriting panel at the Indie Gathering Film Festival in Ohio, USA and you can check out the video below.
Butterfly Crush won a string of Best Feature Drama awards at US festivals in 2011 and an 'Accolade Award of Excellence' for Best Supporting Actor for Amelia Shankley's protrayal of the Dreamguides leader, Star. The film won the 'Best International Narrative Feature' award at the in Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas, which presents �the year�s best films about personal and civil liberty�. It has also won the'Best Feature Drama' at the Indie Gathering Film Festival in Ohio and the 'Best Feature Film' award at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza in Washington D.C.Writing
Alan's first novel, Moontan, a Clown's Story, was well received at its launch at the Wellington Fringe Festival in New Zealand, and in Australia at the Warrana Writers Festival in Brisbane in 1994.
Clay�s second novel Dance Sisters was launched at the Melbourne Writers Festival in 1997. In the novel a female song and dance trio threatens to self-destruct on the brink of fame, when its leader becomes involved with a manipulative cult, touting astrology and virtual dreaming.
In Clay�s third novel, Believers in Love, a father and daughter team of sand-sculptors embark on a crazy adventure which takes them from Sydney's Bondi Beach, to a magic mountain in New Zealand, in which they explore the transient nature of art and life, and discover that dreams are real. American reviews of 'Believers in Love' were so good, that he toured literary festivals in the USA and Canada in 2003.
In 2005 he published Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User Guide, which includes 50 clown exercises developed over 30 years of teaching and to which clowns from around the world have submitted anecdotes from their experience. Angels Can Fly was launched at the Brisbane Writers Festival, and has become a text book for a fast changing art form.
Anecdotes and Exercises from Angels Can Fly, which have been posted on this site, can be found under the chapter links below.
1. Go Your Own Path
2. When to Start
Exercise: Slapping Balance
Anecdote: Female Clown - Sue BroadwayExercise: Normal Question
Anecdote: Rumpel's Foolosophy
Anecdote: Lady Margo
Anecdote: David MacMurray Smith
Anecdote: Like Herself - Hillary Chaplin
Anecdote: I don't juggle
Anecdote: Celebrate Abandonment
34. TensionExercise: Nonviolence
On this site you can also find archived blog items from the Angels Can Fly book launch and tour.
You might also like to check out our ePublishing links or information on the Artmedia Newsletters, or the Artmedia Publishing Services.
Other Books by Alan Clay
Alan's first novel, Moontan, is the story of a couple of clowns, set against the occupation of a theatre by a collective of artists in Auckland. It was well received at its launch at the Wellington Fringe Festival in New Zealand, and in Australia at the Warrana Writers Festival in Brisbane in 1994.
"Moontan, which describes the occupation of the Civic Theatre in Auckland by a collective of artists, is simple but well-told. The novel is enjoyable, the characters are convincingly portrayed, and the city of Auckland is sketched in with a deft touch." Otago Daily Times
Alan's first novel, Moontan is available in paperback from the Australian online Bookshop
Alan shot a short film based on this novel in 2006 staring Annette Devick from Canada (pictured right) and Mark Hudson from Australia. This is now available in a DVD compilation including the 15 minute short, a 30 minute rough cut, a twenty minute 'Making of Moontan' documentary, and a two camera split-screen extra clown performance (total: 72 min.), US$14.95 from Amazon.com.
Alan's second novel Dance Sisters is set in Sydney and tells the story of a female song and dance trio which threatens to self-destruct on the brink of fame, when its leader becomes involved with a manipulative cult, touting sex, astrology and virtual dreaming. It was launched at the Melbourne Writers Festival in 1997.
Dance Sisters gained particular attention when it was released in May 2000 as an eBook in a format which was packaged to enhance the reading experience on a computer with sound and visuals. See link below.
The State Library of NSW purchased the manuscripts and associated papers to both Dance Sisters and Moontan, to be held in the Mitchell Reference Library, together` with a set of 12 archive videos from the work at Playspace Studio.
Dance Sisters eBook Release
Dance Sisters has just been released as an eBook for the Kobo reader and the eBook can be purchased in New Zealand through Whitcoulls or in Australia through Borders or Angus & Robertson. It is also available for the Apple iPad through the iBooks app at iTunes. (eBook ISBN: 9780957884465)
Dance Sisters has recently been released as a feature film, Butterfly Crush, which was written and directed by Alan Clay and stars Courtney Hale, Hayley Fielding, Amelia Shankley, Richard Adams and Sally Kelleher. The Butterfly Crush DVD (ISBN: 9780957884496) has recently been released in New Zealand and you can find information at www.butterflycrush.net.
Believers in Love
In Alan's third novel, Believers in Love, a father and daughter team of sand-sculptors embark on a crazy adventure which takes them from Sydney's Bondi Beach, to a magic mountain in New Zealand, in which they explore the transient nature of art and life, and discover that dreams are real.
American reviews of 'Believers in Love' were so good, that Alan toured literary festivals in the USA and Canada during 2003.
"Believers in Love is a powerfully creative work, with prose that sings like poetry. Beautifully told and evocatively rendered, Believers in Love comes very highly recommended."
Believers in Love eBook Release
Believers in Love has just been released as an eBook for the Kobo reader and the eBook can be purchased in New Zealand through Whitcoulls or in Australia through Borders or Angus & Robertson. It can also be purchased for the Apple iPad through the iBooks app at iTunes. (ISBN: 9780957884472)
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Last updated 25 July 2012