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Term II Classes and Information

Session I Classes (July 4 – July 17)

Instructor: Chiara D’Anna

This class 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 class 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 class 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 class 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.

Instructor: Sam McGehee and Saso Vollmaier

What does it mean for the body to sing and the voice to move? What is the rhythm of speech? What is dissonance and harmony on stage? In this class we will explore the hidden musicality of theatre, how it can inspire creation and help to establish form. Our time will be geared towards the composition of physical and vocal scores. Particular attention will be given to work on rhythm, voice and the body as they relate to the space. The participants will have the opportunity to work and improvise with live musicians in order to heighten their awareness of the space and the hidden dimensions therein.

The elements of body, voice and rhythm will be explored on an individual basis in order to uncover hidden potentials, and implemented through ensemble improvisation to stimulate a sense of play. In the end, we will focus on refining a heightened sense of listening in the composition of short études.

Session II Classes (July 18 – July 31)

Instructor: Elena De Renzio

The clown is not a character but a state of mind, a process that leads us to make it alive and creative at every moment. Emotion and sensation are the prime movers of their creation. They are listening to their fears, impulses, and impediments.  From the smallest sensation to the strongest emotion, it allows us to see and hear what it is that makes you live and act. The red nose, “the smallest mask in the world” (J. Lecoq), allows the actor to show their hindrance, fragility and humanity. When they encounter failure they make it their own best friend, they make it their strength. Open, attentive and present, the clown feeds on curiosity and trust, able to let everything flow through. The clown allows us to reveal the thousand hidden voices of the ego: the bad ones, the smart, the stupid, the clumsy or … silent. In the game of metamorphosis the body becomes one with the energy that flows through it. It feeds on the complicity of the partner and the public to discover pleasure at any moment of being on stage in a game where even dramas can perhaps become ridiculous. For me, the clown is the greatest improvisation school, a point where the frontier disappears among the performing arts, a landscape full of surprises, an opportunity to get rid of many stereotypes, one of the few places where you can be “imperfect”, a game with precise rules but at the same time wonderfully joyful and serious. A space for meeting oneself, a point from which one can observe oneself, an unexpected moment from which force is released, liberating a shared laugh, it is a rustic and refined energy, it is a beating heart, one blank page, an open book …It is a precious space to get closer to our unique and singular poetics.

Instructor: Greg Pierotti

“Only Connect” EM Forster (Howard’s End)

The presence we project as performers depends on our ability to connect with ourselves while opening to our environment and our spectators. When we are bold enough to be witnessed completely; and when an audience is daring enough bear that witness, ordinary magic happens. Presence is the shared and unmediated moment with which the greatest Netflix binge cannot compete. The great offering of the theater is presence. Being nakedly present – physically, vocally, emotionally – is a heroic act that resonates powerfully with spectators who are willing to hear, feel and see it. 

In this workshop, we will practice staying open to and curious about our shifting experience while being seen by others. To find our way to fuller presence, we will engage in physical/vocal training through Fitzmaurice Voicework. We will practice exercises to connect to the energy centers of the body, using these as pathways to a variety of performance energies. We will also work with several compositional practices including Mary Overlie’s Six Viewpoints and Affect Theatre (the devising practice developed by Pierotti and his collaborator Cristiana Giordano). Using these practices, we will structure brief, informal theatrical essays based on a shared text. 

Over the course of our two weeks together, we will share presence with progressively larger and larger groups of spectators. This is called titration. We will titrate the intense experience of being seen, from a very small of audience of one to a much larger audience during our final presentation. This final “performance” will be considered more training. We will use it as yet another opportunity to practice the sharing of presence in the more highly charged performance environment. 




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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