Angela de Castro has been performing since she was 17 years old, beginning in her native Brazil where she was a well-known actor in theatre, film and television, and director of her own theatre company. She was a member of the original cast of the ground-breaking show ‘Macunaima’ (1977-1980), which changed the face of Brazilian theatre and played to an audience of over ½ million people in Brazil alone, as well as touring internationally for 4
In 1986 de Castro moved to London to pursue her dream to study, perform and reclaim theatre clowning as a modern art form. She has toured the UK and internationally with the major contemporary theatre and circus companies and is now well known as a teacher of her master class ‘How To Be A Stupid’ or ‘The Art of Creative Intelligence’. de Castro’s creative practice, developed over 40 years, is based on what de Castro calls ‘the state of
clowning’, a process through which participants find truthfulness and depth, a transformatory journey of discovery requiring courage and discipline.
In 1999, de Castro founded The Why Not Institute in London, a UK’s only space totally dedicated to performance, teaching, professional development, resources and events connected to contemporary clowning, especially that within theatre traditions. The Institute runs workshops, develops performances and builds support networks for clowns. The Institute creates a space for people to try out clowning and for clowns to be recognised and validated. It is the home of de Castro’s unique space, The Land of the Why Not, a clown’s playground, a space for artists to experiment or simply exist with their clown personas outside of rehearsal or performance.
Celebrating its 21 st birthday in 2020 with The Why Not Festival of Clowning, in association with Jacksons Lane Arts Centre, The Why Not Institute continues to honour the rich history of clown, whilst embracing new ideas and emerging performers.
de Castro has taught around the world in Britain, Germany, Australia, Brazil, the USA, all together around 35 countries. She has an on-going relationship with the Ernst Busch Drama
Academy in Berlin, the London International Mime Festival, and with business and educational projects where the creative lessons of the state of clowning can be applied with great success. de Castro has received awards and fellowships in recognition of her contribution to modern clowning from the Royal Scottish Academy of Speech and Drama, the Nesta Dreamtime Award programme, and, of course, the Arts Foundation.
Most clowns have a persona and show which travels with them throughout their careers. For de Castro this is Souza and ‘The Gift’, first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1990. Through various iterations, including a tour at the Barbican in London in 1998, the show has journeyed with de Castro through the last 30 years, most recently in Finland (2018), Chicago (2019) and London (2020).
de Castro has performed in many shows in the UK over the years, starting with circuses theatre companies like, Mummerandada and Ra Ra Zoo and an in theatre and physical theatre companies like ‘Under Glass’ (Clod Ensemble), ‘Futurology’ (National Theatre Scotland), Ionesco’s ‘The New Tenant’ (Young Vic), ‘Treasure Island’ (National Theatre, London) to mention a few. She is well known for performing on the award winning Slava’s
‘Snowshow’, where she developed the character Green Clown and toured for four years.
Through her own production company, Contemporary Clowning Projects, de Castro has developed a number of shows in addition to ‘The Gift’, including: ‘My Life Is Like A Yo Yo’ (UK tour); ‘only fools, no horses’ (Riverside Theatre London, followed by a UK tour); ‘Laughing Matters’ (Battersea Arts Centre London, Bristol Old Vic, Jyvaskyla Festival Finland); ‘The Road’, a variety show (Brazil, Wales, Andorra, Scotland,England); and recent
development for a new show, a clown opera, ‘Alone = all+one’.
Angela de Castro has dedicated her life to theatre and the incredible art form of clowning. She says “I believe in the vital role of clowns as truth tellers, entertainers, subversives and communicators in the arts, in society and across the world.”