Dr Lucy Amsden BA, MPhil (Birmingham) PhD (Glasgow)

Photograph of Dr Lucy Amsden

Department of Drama and Theatre Arts
Teaching Fellow in Theatre Practice

Contact details

The Old Library (SOVAC)
998 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
B29 6LG

I am a Teaching Fellow in Theatre Practice, joining the department in 2016 from the University of Glasgow. My research and practice is focussed on clown performance and training at the École Philippe Gaulier.


  • PhD Theatre Studies; University of Glasgow, 2015
  • MPhil Drama and Theatre Arts; University of Birmingham, 2010
  • BA First-class honours Drama and Theatre Arts; University of Birmingham, 2007


Funded by the College of Arts, University of Glasgow, my PhD is entitled 'The work of a clown is to make the audience burst out laughing': learning clown at École Philippe Gaulier. As part of this research I drew on my own participant-observation of Gaulier's school, where I trained in Le Jeu and Clown in 2008 and 2009.

Between 2011 and 2016, I taught theatre practice and theory at University of Glasgow and Glasgow Kelvin College. During this time I was also Research Assistant for It's All Allowed: The Performances of Adrian Howells, edited by Deirdre Heddon and Dominic Johnson.

I have an ongoing performance practice in clown and bouffon, which informs my research and teaching. Previous to my PhD, I was a freelance theatre practitioner and facilitator in the Birmingham area.


  • Theatre Practice (Year 1, convenor in spring term)
  • Theatre Lab (Year 2)
  • Theatre Praxis (Year 2, convenor)
  • Collaborative Strategies (Year 2)

I am also convenor for Year 2 Practical Intensive: Acting


My ongoing research interests are in clown performance and training, with a focus on the Ecole Philipe Gaulier and its alumni.

This year I will also exploring clown in dementia care and in virtual media, as part of Modelling Interactive Clown Practices for Virtual Game Design applications in Dementia care with the School of Arts and Media/Institute for Dementia, University of Salford.

 I am also currently researching bouffon, a performance genre developed and taught by Lecoq and Gaulier. This research is developing through participant-observation of practical training in short courses with Gaulier, involvement in The Bouffon/Tragedy Project with Al Seed and Judith Milligan, and Bouffon Scratchings with Plutôt la Vie and Clownstepping.

Other activities

I will take over as SSLC Coordinator for DTA in the Spring term.

I have shared my research in a number of academic and outreach environments. I have presented papers at TaPRA, where I am a member of the Popular Performance Working Group, and at IFTR, and a research seminar at University of Glasgow.

I have been a regular contributor to research-based stand-up comedy night, Bright Club, at The Stand in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. With this group, in postgraduate conferences and in my performance with Clown Cabaret Scratch Nights, I am exploring lecture-performance about play, the flop and the body as key clown practices, all of which exist in relationship with the audience.

I appeared on ‘The Clown Master’, a film about Gaulier’s clown training on BBC Newsnight presented by Lewis Goodall, produced by Zach Brown, 23 Sept 2015.


‘When they laugh your clown is coming: learning how to be ridiculous in Philippe Gaulier’s pedagogy of spectatorship’ Theatre, Dance and Performer Training Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2016

'Clowns: Conversations with Modern Masters' (Book Review) Contemporary Theatre Review Volume 26, Issue 1, March 2016

‘I’m not really a clown: critical reflection on a Clown Cabaret Scratch Night’ Scottish Journal of Performance Volume 2 Issue 2, June 2015

‘Clown: Readings in Theatre Practice by Jon Davison’ (Book Review) Contemporary Theatre Review Volume 24, Issue 2, 2014