Hilary Ramsden

A red nose squacker and walker

Teacher of the Clowning and Bouffon courses

Hilary is a clown, researcher and lecturer in performance, street arts, rebel clown and a Doctor of Walking (now you know she is seriously serious). 

She unwillingly began her red nose explorations in the foggy mists of the past when her housemate dragged her kicking and screaming to a Clowning class in Stuttgart. As soon as she stepped on stage everyone laughed and she stopped screaming. She forgave her housemate and never stopped wearing the red nose. 

She trained with many wonderful teachers including Desmond Jones, Monika Pagneux, Philippe Gaulier, Peta Lily, John Lee, Jon Davison and….and….she continues to learn. 

After training at Desmond Jones Physical Theatre School, London and Ecole Philippe Gaulier, Paris she co-founded the London-based Dorothy Talk in 1989 and toured throughout the UK.  Prior to Dorothy Talk she was a member of the acclaimed Siren Theatre Company, touring six shows in five years throughout the UK and Europe. She has also worked and performed with Angela De Castro, Desperate Men, Skin & Blisters Mighty Circus Theatre, Wofembu Buffoon Company and Seriously Marginal in Edinburgh, London, Madrid, Paris and Andorra. 

In 1992 she created Walk & Squawk with US co-artistic director Erika Block and in 2000 they renovated a space in Detroit which became the Furniture Factory theatre in Detroit, Michigan, USA. 

On returning to the UK she became a co-founder of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (C.I.R.C.A), wearing red noses for revolution.

Hilary has been a guest artist and has taught clowning, physical theatre, movement, improvisation and devising workshops at many universities including Middlebury, Reed, Mt. Holyoke and Smith Colleges, University of East London and Central School of Speech and Drama. Her work has been seen throughout Europe, the UK, the USA and South Africa. 

She enjoys teaching clowning and rebel clowning regularly in Berlin. Since March 2020 with three clown colleagues (Jon Davison, world-leading authority on the teaching, performance, history and theory of clowning, Robyn Hambrook, from the Online Clown Academy, Sabine Choucair of Clown Me In) she has been creating and exploring new methodologies within clowning. Working in particular to develop online clowning methods and innovative performance formats that can challenge social injustices and investigate our experiences of our rapidly changing worlds. Our research has been focussed on (but not exclusively) the following questions: Is rebel clowning still relevant and useful as a form of political protest and direct action? Is it still an innovative form of creative street action, that can inspire and build social movements? Does it continue to have the potential to access a deeper process for individuals that “liberates…..with weapons of love and laughter” (Klepto, 2004). 

She is currently Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance at the University of South Wales in Cardiff, UK and teaches on a wide variety of performance courses. As an artist, researcher and educator her work is guided by an overarching thematic concern of the investigation of play and improvisation within performance.  She also employs walking as a performative intervention to investigate changes and transformations in individual perception and group dialogue. She recently won the University’s Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award (ELTA) for her research work with students on walking and awareness.

Website: www.walksquawk.org