16 – 25th August 2023


Lisbon, Portugal

Just like with the violin or piano, we must learn to play our instrument – in this case, the human body.

During the summer of 2023, 16th-25th August, the International School of Play will offer the third edition of its 9 day intensive theatre workshop, bringing together 3 international teachers whose aim is to explore, expand and refine the human impulse to create on stage, through body, voice and imagination.

The setting is sunny Lisbon, a vibrant, picturesque and inspirational city located alongside the Portuguese coast.

The workshop caters for all levels, be you an actor, dancer, singer, or someone wishing to further explore their artistic potential within the field of theatre.


Theatre is PLAY

This workshop is an invitation for play, freedom and technique to emerge on stage.

Games, exercises and improvisations will stimulate us into playing and inventing. We will introduce masks to explore character space, and seek what aspects of our universal individuality allows us to be in service to art. We will use our bodies to represent and transform the dynamics of the world, with and without text. 

Our workshop will inhabit the following paradox – technique is lifeless without pleasure and passion, and yet artistic creation often demands the directed perspective of craft to frame our play. It is here where we will nourish our poetic urge to tell stories of, and to, the world.

It is here that we will create theatre.

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play"

Heraclitus 500 BC

Meet the teachers

The workshop focuses on play, movement and body

John Mowat

“My teaching is based upon creating an environment where you can fall flat on your face and then get up and laugh about it. A place in which to play, explore, experiment, make discoveries and go on adventures”.

  • Communicating ideas visually
  • Use of the body, relating to others and the performance space.
  • Integration of the visual with the spoken word
  • Developing character, focusing on the physical
  • Character interaction and story telling

We begin through a thorough analysis of movement to discover or rediscover our bodies. In the early stages we keep largely away from language so as to concentrate on building physical and visual awareness. Slowly we integrate the visual with the spoken word…  Character work plays an important part. A variety of exercises and improvisations are used to create strong physical and vocal characters. These are then explored by putting them into various situations to see how they affect and relate with each other.

John was born and brought up in London, where he still occasionally lives. His career in the theatre began in 1980 when he performed his first solo show. As a theatre maker, performer and director creating over 60 shows to date, his highly visual style of comedy has toured in over 50 countries throughout the world. Mowat continues to work on a variety of projects, dividing his time between Portugal, Brazil and the UK.

Samuel Meyler

“I’m interested in the human impulse to create, to manifest. Play is a powerful catalyst for this – its transformative, it brings spontaneity, it’s highly contagious, it weakens the fear of failure…”

  • Games and improvisation in service of play
  • Using the dynamics of movement to enter into the comic territories
  • Character exploration through mask
  • The poetry of the human body


One of our goals will simply be to enjoy ourselves on stage (something easier said then done!). We’ll work with a variety of expressive masks to welcome in our comic vulnerability, idiocy, virtuosity, imbalance, humanness. Our aim is to rediscover the art of play and the creative empowering freedom this can give us. 

Samuel was born in Lisbon, but grew up mainly in Ireland. From a young age, he was obsessed with juggling and play. Later he discovered physical theatre, which brought him to work extensively with Norman Taylor and then at the Ecole Lassaad in Belguim. He underwent further training at Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris. He holds a Ph.D. in the performing arts and currently teaches in a variety of professional theatre schools and universities.


Susana Cecílio

“What excites me the most is poetic creations that stand on the threshold of tragedy and comedy”


  • Corporal consciousness
  • Play and the somatic body
  • Relationship between others and space
  • Rhythm and physical dynamics


In these classes our body is our centre, our floor, our place to create. To move and transform our energy into action. We will explore the world through play, through the body, and through relationships of spatial tensions. 

Susana is the founder and artistic director of ALGURES, where she is also an actress, clown and storyteller. She graduated in Human Motricity and has a Master’s degree in Theatre Studies from the FL-UL with the thesis “Body’s Dramaturgy” (2009). In her theatrical creations, she mixes literary universes with popular culture. Currently, she is also the artistic director of TEM GRAÇA – International Women Clown Festival and member of the Clown Union of Portugal – UPP. 

"To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it."

Charlie Chaplin


The workshop caters for all levels, be you an actor, dancer, singer, or just a human wishing to further explore their artistic potential using the field of theatre. Classes are from 10:30-13:00; 14:30-17:00 every day, with no class on Sunday. The space opens at 10:00 to warm up. 

On Saturday we will only work in the morning, followed by an optional visit to the local flea market in Alfama, Lisbon. 

The classes are distributed more of less equally between Samuel and John over the 9 days, with the invited teacher taking a few mornings or afternoons. Please wear comfortable clothing, and feel free to come a little early to start stretching. 

Location: Alfama (Lisbon)

“It was a real pleasure to participate in School of Play. I did things I haven’t done before which tested instinct and honed improvisation. The students quickly became a family. Sam and John teach quite differently, but their methods compliment one another nicely. All in all School of Play is an opportunity to do just that…play and learn and have fun doing it.”

Nola Rae, Mime/Clown


“What really surprised me was how I changed. I laugh much more, even in stressful situations. I feel much more flexible in situations with difficult choices, and it pays off. So that playfulness work profoundly impacted my work and my household. Thanks, Sam and John!”

Ekaterina Vinnik, MD, PhD 




“The School of play exceeded all my expectations. 9 days is a great length of time, long enough to go deeper into practices that previous shorter workshops only scratched the surface. The workshop is such a bargain for what i got out of it, and Lisbon is such a beautiful city. I hope I can make it back and would highly recommend the experience to everyone!”

Ronan Mcloughlin, Circus 

“School of Play offered exactly what I was looking for. John and Sam balanced a style of teaching where they both challenged us while making us feel secure. We were able to experiment and invent each day and push the boundaries of our sense of play. I know I’ll take these lessons with me as I navigate daily interactions.

Belen Wagaw, Social Media Consultant


“The course was what I expected and more. I got inspired and got new points of view for my own theatre work.”

Oswald Basten, Clown/Puppeteer




Theatre is PLAY

Scholarship fund

Trust us, we know how difficult it is to making a living from art, especially theatre! 

Therefore we wish to provide one place for a Portuguese professional or student (linked with the arts, preferably performance) to join School of Play. If selected we provide a 70% fee reduction (of the total price of the course), with the individual paying the other 30%. Interested?  

Please send us:

  • Proof of Portuguese nationality
  • Why this training is useful to you (one page maximum)
  • Curriculum Vitae (two pages maximum)
  • Anything else you deem important

Deadline for application is 15th April 2023, all candidates will receive an answer by 20th May 2023. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the application process?

Simple. You fill in the application form and pay the deposit. We see you in August. 

I’m a complete beginner, is that okay? 

Yes. Different levels will mix, bringing different colours.

I have many years of experience as a performer, is that okay? 

Yes. Different levels will mix, bringing different colours.

What is the closing date for enrolment?

We have generally booked out quite early. It is a good idea to enrol quickly. 

Do you provide accommodation?


If I’m booking on airbnb etc, what areas of Lisbon should I be looking?

Alfama, Praça do Comércio, Cais Sodré, Bairro Alto, Mouraria …

Is there anything to prepare? 

Just bring yourself, your passion, your pleasure. 

Do you provide discounts? 

No. But see our early bird fee and the scholarship fund for a portuguese artist.


early bird / until 30th April 2023



Regular fee / after 30th April 2023



A deposit of 150 euro, non-refundable, is required to reserve a place – you can pay the remaining balance on the first

day of the workshop. 

*Note: To avail of the early bird fee, the deposit must be received by the 30th of April





“The play is the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”


William Shakespeare; Hamlet


Contact us

Please let us know if you have any questions on the workshop, on Lisbon or life in general!


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      And finally … a big THANK YOU to all the previous School of Play editions…