Teaching and Training



#1. 500 Clown Fundamentals:

              May 9th – 1pm to 5pm – $90

#2. Exploring Partnership:
             May 4th, 11th, & 18th – 11am to 2:30pm – $250

To register, email classes@500clown.com!


If you’d like to be the mailing list for future classes email your info to classes@500clown.com.  If you are interested in training for your company, class, or team drop us a line there too!

How It Started

We teach because we love teaching.  Our classes in clown-theater fundamentals teach physical and emotional risk-taking, partnering, releasing tension, and finding our individual ways of creating humor.  We taught our first classes in the fall of 2002 during the city of Fools Festival at the Chopin Theater.  As we taught two big things happened.  One was an attempt to define a vocabulary to articulate what it was that we were doing. The other was the discovery that the “it” was multiple.  We team-taught, passing the ball (literally and figuratively) back and forth, not unlike what the actors, directors and designers were doing in rehearsal and performance.

Why Teach in Pairs

Team teaching helped us develop the concept that “your partner is perfect”. Teaching with each other helped to distill our individual strengths and gave us ways to appreciate each other outside the parameters of the roles we played.  One of the powerful things students can learn from team teaching is that there are multiple ways to achieve a single goal.


Who We Teach

Our classes are for theater professionals and physical theater students, but they are also for our audiences and for all kinds of segments of the general population- we have taught business professionals, athletes, pediatricians, therapists, chefs, and incarcerated populations.  We frequently teach high school and university students.  We believe that what we teach- physical and emotional risk-taking, partnering, releasing tensions- can be used in the immediate and daily lives of our students.

Where we’ve taught

In Chicago, we’ve taught through the Second City and Actors Gymnasium; at universities including University of Chicago, DePaul, Northwestern, Roosevelt, and North Central College; and Independently.  We offer workshops as part of our out-of-town residences at universities and theater venues.   With high schools, 500 Clown has led students in building clown theater productions that have appeared at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the New England Theatre Conference and the International Thespian Society Festival, receiving various honors and awards. We’ve taught workshops and consulted with business schools, innovation firms, and corporations.

Class Descriptions


Through emotional and physical risk, students of Risk and Play explore the four basic elements of 500 Clown Theater: Action, Risk, Audiences and Humor.  We design group and individual exercises to encourage students to move toward the following goals:

  • Locating and releasing onstage tension
  • Developing an awareness of audience, space and partners
  • Allowing given proposals to awaken impulse
  • Giving proposals to partners from impulse


The relationship to one partners is the single most predictably generative asset we have on stage. At the very core of the theatrical act is the live interaction between the actor and his/her partners, some of whom are the audience. How can we use this reliable relationship to create work that is truthful and grounded so that we forge experiences with the audiences rather then asking them to “suspend their disbelief”?   In Exploring Partnership, we start to mine the following:

  • Character giving rise to relationship
  • Negotiating multiple points of contact onstage
  • Exploring action and service in the context of partnership. 


Our intensive is a great intro for performers and non-performers alike.  We explore the basic elements of 500 Clown Theater by taking emotional and physical risks through play.  Our belief is that physical action is a language everyone shares, and we have developed fun ways to work together and individually with risk that helps move participants from passive observers to active participants.  By introducing ourselves to our risk threshold we can mine it for value both on and offstage.



I took this class not as an actor nor a clown. 500 Clown brilliantly creates an environment that is safe for foreigners and newbies, and has an accessible vocabulary and style. I learned that my motivation and intention can not be rooted in the fear of failure but should be rooted in following instincts and embracing failure.

- Erika


A class with 500 Clown is almost like making love: you don’t want to think, you just concentrate on being fully there, fully aware…and enjoy.

- Nicolas N., The Austrian Hammer


These badasses show you the way out of the cages you’ve made for yourself.  They are fearless and honest.  And if it’s true that you are what you eat, these mother fuckers must eat courage and freedom for breakfast.   If you are willing, 500 Clown will take you from performer to powerhouse.

- Holly

I learned that there is no need to ever deny an emotion or movement. Before the 500 Clown workshop I attended, I used to think that I had to fend off certain emotions in favor of finding the “right” ones. I would only focus on rehearsed movement and would try to block out any extraneous or accidental movement. After the workshop, I was granted with the freedom to recognize and access absolutely everything I bring with me onstage and everything that happens as a result.

- Justin