Clowning around at the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art

By Frank Bolger - Last update

Get Daily news and updates directly to your Email

This year’s Oscars gave us the traditional the excess of glitz, glibness and red-carpet slip ups, but the awards were also noteworthy for their commemoration of some very fine performances indeed, most notably by Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto (both for Dallas Buyers Club) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), who each did their bit to remind viewers just how powerful an actor’s screen presence can become once they’ve come to fully inhabit the character they’re playing.

Achieving this is extraordinarily difficult and requires as much hard work as it does talent.

The one-week ‘Clown for Actors’ course at The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art seeks to nurture and develop an actor’s awareness of space – both in the interior and exterior senses. According to The Lir’s own description of it, the course is

‘…specifically designed for actors who wish to more fully develop their vulnerability and sensitivity to the truth of the moment onstage.’

Elsewhere, their synopsis reads:

‘The Clown requires a commitment, ferocity, and honesty which can propel actors into profoundly new places in their work.’

So far, so intense. Yet that burning commitment to work on the craft is something that all great – and even good – actors need.

Yet beneath such a seemingly intimidating and demanding course, Clown for Actors is also a deeply enjoyable and rewarding one. The following is an email The Lir published on its site from a student who completed the Clown for Actors programme:

‘Creative, enlightening, humbling, terrifying, hilarious – some of the words that attempt to describe my experience of a week long clowning course – I a Clown – with Raymond Keane held at The Lir from the 9th to the 13th December. Equally I could say authentic, playful, experiential, awe inspiring – one baby step after another. Or I could talk about the mastery of the teaching from the heart, the games we played, the way the child emerged in all of us. I could say things about innocence and beauty and really seeing ourselves and each other. I could also whisper words about being fully present, breathing here and now. But mostly I want to say thank you thank you thank you for such a heartfelt week, for the way the clown in each of us began to emerge, for the trust and safety created in the group, for the joy, renewal and transformation we all experienced through playing with a Master.’


In all then, an eye-opening week that is more than the sum of its parts.

Frank Bolger

A long way to Tipperary? IBAT's Garda Preparation Course may help
A course to satisfy every food-lover's appetite for learning