COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE with Cheryl Stapleton

Listed by: Clara Marullo

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Presented by The Actors' Workshop Cheryl Stapleton

Week 1 – Introduction to Commedia dell’ Arte. Our starting point for this fast-paced, practical workshop is the physicality of the characters and creating comedy. We will cover the movement, mannerisms and behaviour of the stock characters of the Commedia dell’Arte: Zanni (including Arlecchino, Columbina and Brighella), Pantalone, Dottore, Capitano, Signora and The Lovers. Relationships between several characters are briefly explored with classic pairings e.g. Master and servant, doctor and patient, dumb and dumber fools, in order to deepen the understanding of the masks. Staging and the relationship with the audience are considered throughout along with comic devices to allow the mask to work effectively.

Participants will learn:
• the historical context of Commedia dell’Arte, the origins and theatrical
relevance of each character
• specific exaggerated movement, voice and mannerisms for the characters,
using the breath, grummelot (gibberish language), masks and props
• the key principles of mask work and the imperative for the actor-audience
relationship
• the relationships between the characters, exploring classic lazzi (comic gags)
or meccanismi (rehearsed comic sequences between two or more characters)

Week 2 – The Influence of Commedia dell’Arte. Comic Archetypes in Shakespeare and Molière Discover new ways to engage with the texts of Shakespeare and Molière as learners explore characters from the outside in. Through a process of physical embodiment, that could include the use of archetypal masks, the actor transforms their body, voice and movement and experiences the behavioural traits, gestures, facial expressions and rhythms of the archetypal character. By literally stepping into their shoes, we discover the inner feelings, thoughts and motivations that drive the characters. Relationships suddenly start to make sense as the archetypes banter and the dialogue begins to flow.

Working with comic archetypes enables participants to overcome barriers often presented by words on a page, freeing them up to play with the timeless and universal characters. Once we start to ‘live’ in the world of the play we discover that we can relate to the situations and modern parallels become apparent.
The text then becomes less daunting and more accessible. Texts may include 
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew, Tartuffe, The Hypochondriac.

Cheryl Stapleton trained in ballet and contemporary dance and went on to study at Brunel University and École Internationale de Théâtre Philippe Gaulier. Cheryl is an actress, director and teacher, specialising in physical comedy and masked performance. Cheryl is the founder and director of Learning Through Theatre, a theatre education company specialising in commedia dell’arte. Cheryl has performed and taught internationally with clients that include RADA, UCL, UCA, Circomedia, Haileybury and The Loreto Network. She is currently performing in her company’s second devised play, The Breath of Love. Cheryl teaches regular masterclasses at The Actors’ Workshop and is a founding member of The Actors’ Playground.

Cost 2 Day Course – Students / Equity £50, Full Price £70

The Actors' Workshop Studio at Factory 8

Upton Road
Bristol
BS3 1QZ

Starts: Sat, 21st Mar 2020
Ends: Sat, 28th Mar 2020
Time: 10:00

Price: £70

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