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Course Descriptions – Term I

Session I – May 30 – June 12

Instructor: André Casaca 

Term I – Session I (May 30 – June 12)

In this course, students will explore their own Body Comic Identity, rediscovering the simplicity, tenderness and strength it takes to be able to be present in a scene together with the public. Working in a mostly non-verbal way, participants will discover their own personal comic identity through gesture, movement, sound and the nose. The nose creates its own eye, perspective and reality that preserves the words and makes the body speak. Through practical exercises, participants will gain basic tools of comic rhythm and timing as they delve deeper into their clown. There will be a working demonstration for the Accademia community at the end of the course.

Instructors: Alessandra Faienza and Michele Segreto

Term I – Session I (May 30 – June 12)

The course will be divided in two parts: mask making and character creation. The students will be first working without mask, to discover the very first thing that an actor can deploy: his own body. How do I usually walk? Where is my center of gravity? How do I put my steps on the ground? Have I ever wondered? And once I know what my body does when I walk, what does it communicate? And so, how could I be a character on the opposite side of what I am? Now that I know what I am, what would I like to be? Old? Young? Male? Female? Monster? Grumpy? Happy? Sad? After they know themselves, the students will have the chance to create the new themselves creating a mask starting from what they discovered. This will be the moment when the idea of their new face will take form: is it what we fought it would be? Does the material respond to what we previewed? During the days of creation, the students will discover Worbla, a very expressive thermoplastic material that can be used to create different shapes. The creation will start from the lines of the character’s face, till the texture of the skin, the color of the hair, to create the most precise mask is possible starting from the first idea. Then it will be the time to wear the mask and discover. How does it work? The way we thought? Can we apply our ideas or the mask has his own life, that commands us? How do we live, in the middle of this relation? And what about my character? How does he walk; how does he seat? Can I imagine him or her doing every day’s life stuff? How does he breathe? What are the dramatic actions under his face? What is he moving through the space, the play, the stage? We need to know everything and live in this mask we discover, in order to act the character in a way that is not generic, that is not a stereotype.

Session II – June 13 – June 26

Instructor: Chiara D’Anna

Term I – Session II (June 13 – June 26)

This course is an introduction to Commedia dell’Arte and its legacy in contemporary performance. The Masks of Commedia are indeed an excellent tool to expand performers’ physical vocabulary, stamina, space awareness and a deep understanding of tempo-rhythm and comic timing. In this course you will learn how to create successful ensemble work, interact effectively with an audience and improvise with confidence, developing skills that are fundamental in any performance setting – not only physical comedy

Following an introduction on Commedia dell’Arte and its history, the course will explore how to apply Commedia’s principles and techniques in the development of character and ensemble work. Participants will have the opportunity to focus on different aspects of actor training including body awareness, improvisation, slapstick, stock characterisation and half-mask technique.

On completion of this course you will be able to: 

  • Develop your physical and vocal vocabulary in the creation of grotesque and comic characters with and without half-mask. 
  • Devise and perform scenes utilising the Masks of Commedia dell’Arte, props, music and costumes. 
  • Improvise and interact with your audience with confidence. 
  • Adapt key commedia principles and techniques to any performance setting. 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the historical and cultural context from which Commedia dell’Arte originated and its legacy in contemporary theatre.

Instructors: Ginevra Scaglia and Jon Kellam

Term I – Session II (June 13 – June 26)

An Atelier of Theatrical Training and Creation aimed at the realization of a performance; an exploration and immersion into the theatre and writing of Bertolt Brecht, German visionary playwright, social critic, and one of the most celebrated theatre artists of the twentieth century. The pedagogical vehicle for this atelier is the symbiosis of two specific training and devising systems. We integrate, a dynamic pedagogic transliteration of essential spatial, gestural, and physical exercises derived from one of the greatest thinkers in contemporary theatre, Jacques Lecoq, with Superdrama, an idiosyncratic synthesis of training, creating character, and devising performance, employing elements of Brecht’s, ‘Gestus’ technique with German Expressionism, Commedia dell’Arte, Stanislavski, and the theatre NŌ principle of JO-HA-KYU. The course will immerse the actor into this unique dialog of training and devising. The training is vigorous and demands a heightened physical and emotional output that serves to ignite the internal passion of the actor deliberately disrupting the actor from unwanted restraints, in effect; to liberate the actors’ creative process.



Dates (including Arrival and Departure): 

Term I: May 30 – June 26, 2021

Term II: July 4 – July 31, 2021

PLEASE NOTE: The dates above include arrival and departure. The Accademia dell’Arte does not accommodate students before or after these dates, neither in the time between the intensives.


The Accademia dell’Arte undergraduate program is fully accredited by Hendrix College.

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