The Fool Within: Self-Discovery Through Clown and Mask

Event Highlights

  • Optional morning yoga before breakfast
  • Three nutritious chef-prepared meals per day, plus coffee and tea.
  • Cozy fireplaces in indoor spaces
  • Each participant stays in their own private bedroom
  • Activities access the subconscious imagination through work with clay, paint, and movement
  • Individual sessions with a trained Drama Therapist
  • Focus on connection, play, and accessing what is fantastic about yourself
  • Work with breath, eye contact and Somatic Experiencing toward greater expression and connection
  • Access to Menla's spa for an additional fee (includes saunas, steam rooms, and soaking tubs)



Participants arrive
Dinner served
Evening: Introductions, followed by a brief intention-setting group activity


Early morning stretching and yoga (optional)



We begin with games meant to loosen up our bodies and our impulses. A few brief exercises, such as Walking to the Wall, and a guided color meditation serve to introduce participants to playing with color.

Next, each participant doe an exploration and painting for the colors Red and Orange



Making Contact. This foundational exercise will take the bulk of the afternoon.

A closing ritual then brings us all back to the group, and allows time for debriefing the experience of the day.


Early morning stretching and yoga (optional)



Opening ritual. Welcome into the space something that has been stewing with you since Making Contact.

Then, participants explore and paint worlds for Yellow & Green.

Finally, they make a clay form, which will become their mask.



The exercise: Something Fantastic. Much like Making Contact, this exercise will take an entire block.

A closing ritual then brings us all back to the group, and allows time for debriefing the experience of the day.


Early morning stretching and yoga (optional)



Drama Therapy warm up using images and words that have come up for individuals, to provide an embodied process for digesting the work we’ve done so far.

Exploration and painting for Blue & Indigo



A short drama therapy exercise to bring people into the experience of partner work.
Then the exercise Masterpiece/Creator, which brings people into work as a pair, introducing sound as an element.

Following this, we do the exercises Waving Goodbye to Someone You Love and Return to Childhood

Closing Ritual


**After dinner homework: participants must papier mache their masks


Early morning stretching and yoga (optional)



Students explore and paint Violet

The rest of this morning’s session is dedicated to drama therapy work—the specifics of the exercises will be based on the needs of the specific participants in the moment.

Breaking the clay out of the masks and painting them. Learning and exploring the six levels of impulse.

Closing Ritual


Early morning stretching and yoga (optional)



Participants explore the world of their mask and wear it for the first time. They develop a costume and a narrative through a series of embodied exercises. This is followed by drama therapy techniques related to the exploration of the masks.


Further exploration into the masks, using techniques of drama therapy to bridge the creative exploration and the participants’ own journeys and struggles.

Closing Ritual


Early morning stretching and yoga (optional)



Students learn the basics of clown energy and its embodiment. Each is given a nose to wear. Drama therapy techniques help them each explore their clown in the world of the mask.



Each student presents a “turn” – a short, silent, unrehearsed piece, in which they present themselves as their clown.


After dinner there is a closing activity for the group to integrate their experiences, struggles, and personal growth, while having the space to unpack or discuss any final thoughts.

Light breakfast before participants leave.

About This Event

and emotional blocks. The workshop combines the pioneering clown work of Richard Pochinko with Drama Therapy techniques to turn creative play into a tool for self-discovery and growth.

The course is emotionally rigorous and quite physical, but in a way that is accessible to all bodies and abilities. We’ll use our bodies, as well as paint and clay, to explore our own imaginations and to express what we find. But this is by no means a visual arts or theater class—no experience necessary!

These exercises are supplemented with Drama Therapy techniques to help facilitate each student’s own unique journey. These therapeutic exercises may involve exploring difficult moments that came up during the work, increasing one’s own self-awareness, or helping integrate moments of personal growth.

With an awareness that each of us brings our own and our community’s diversity of histories, wounds and resiliencies, this intensive holds a trauma-informed lens. Each participant will have choice and support to follow their own impulses, both in the clown work, as well as in their own therapeutic/healing process.

Why clown?

Every culture has clowns-- people whose role is to speak truth to power, upset the social hierarchy, and amplify the messages of the divine. But in order to do this work, a clown must be able to laugh at themselves. They must share with us their struggles and their humanity. Otherwise, how can we trust them?

This workshop provides a safe (and fun) way to begin the journey of discovering what is most beautiful, alive, and ridiculous within you. And from there, finding how that deeper connection to the self allows for greater connection with others and the world around us. And of course, you’ll also get to wear a red nose.

Particular aspects of focus for this workshop:

• Following your own impulses

• Noticing your tendencies and patterns

• Sitting in discomfort, playing in discomfort, and connecting in discomfort

• Accessing the creativity and intelligence the body

• Working intuitively, rather than intellectually

• Making connection in an embodied way

• Finding strength through pleasure and vulnerability

• Discovering your own self-delight

If we could see every side of ourselves at once, we'd only be able to laugh at the beauty of our own ridiculousness. -Richard Pochinko

What's Included

  • Pick-up and drop-off at local bus or train station
  • Private room for 7 nights
  • 3 nutritious chef-prepared meals per day, plus coffee and tea
  • Daily work with two instructors, including private drama therapy work with a trained Drama Therapist
  • Morning yoga sessions before breakfast (optional)
  • All materials, including clay, paint, paper, costumes, and a red nose

What's Not Included

Travel to the Phoenicia area
Admission to Menla's Dewa Spa

Venue Highlights

Menla is a spectacular retreat center in the heart of the Catskills. The venue features fire places for staying cozy, outdoor fires, and gorgeous views of the mountains. There is also an on-site spa with soaking tubs, saunas and steam rooms that participants can use for an additional fee (paid directly to the spa).


Each participant will have their own private room to allow for reflection and adequate personal space after days of emotional and physical exploration.

Please let us know in advance if you have any special needs regarding accessibility, dietary needs, or anything else. We take a trauma-informed approach to this work, and recognize that needs and resiliencies are a spectrum.


  • Free Wifi
  • Spa
  • Sauna
  • Towels
  • Free Parking
  • Kitchen
  • Hot Tub
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Yoga Studio

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Pescetarian
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free


All food is carefully prepared by a horticulturist and chef. Menu details to come soon.


From the NYS Thruway, take exit 19.
Follow Rt 28 W for about 23 miles
Turn left onto Woodland Valley Rd
Turn right onto Pantherkill Rd

Menla is located at 375 Pantherkill Rd

If you will need pick-up from the Kingston bus station or the Rhinebeck train station, please let us know.

connection creative therapies creativitiy drama therapy expression imagination play self-discovery somatics trauma

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