An Introduction to Commedia dell’Arte

1 Day Masterclass

Course Details

Saturday 27 November

10:00 – 17:00

Course Description

An intensive day of physical play, that guarantees laughter and fun! Discover the larger-than-life world of Commedia dell’Arte; learn the origins, movement, mannerisms and behaviours of the stock characters: the cheeky Arlecchino, the blundering Zanni, the pompous Doctor, the rapacious Pantalone, the swaggering Capitano and the narcissistic Lovers.


Key principles of mask work will be taught, considering staging and the actor-audience relationship. Classic lazzi (comic gags), meccanismi (rehearsed comic sequences) and short scenarios will be explored to understand how Commedia dell’Arte plays come to life.


The skills learnt through study of this influential theatre form are essential for every actor’s toolkit. Connecting breath, movement and voice, Commedia awakens your expressive potential and sharpens your awareness of gesture, space, tempo-rhythm and comic timing.


No experience necessary but a good level of physical fitness is recommended! Rigorous cleaning procedures will be employed throughout the workshop so that masks can be used safely.


“Cheryl delivered an outstanding class … students came away enriched and enthused by her robust and full-blooded approach.” [G. Bullen, RADA]

“I can’t recommend this workshop highly enough. Teaching was first class.” [Dr. J. Schopf, Rose Bruford College]

Cheryl Stapleton has worked for over twenty-five years with commedia dell’arte. She trained as a dancer and then specialised in movement and physical expression at École Philippe Gaulier. Cheryl specialised in commedia dell’arte with maestros John Rudlin and Antonio Fava and worked for several years alongside mask maker and commedia dell’arte expert, Michael Chase. Cheryl is artistic director of Learning Through Theatre, teaching and performing commedia dell’arte internationally. Recent productions include The Breath of Love and Trouble Inn Paradise in which Cheryl multi-roled as Isabella, Columbina, Brighella and the Doctor.

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