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Learning Through Theatre is an education theatre company, producing shows and delivering workshops.
Commedia dell’arte is at the heart of what we do. This Italian Renaissance acting style is invaluable as a training method for performers of all genres and all ages, helping to unlock inhibitions through the security of the mask and teaching performers how to control and maintain their physical presence, audience relationship and stage energy.
Our workshops are not just for performers though – effective communication skills are vital to everyone, in every industry. We challenge participants to stretch themselves physically and vocally, empowering them with confidence and expression so that they become the best communicators they can be.
In many sessions, we use masks, but we also deliver workshops that focus on the physically expressive being, without using masks. Our focus is to open all participants to their potential for physical transformation; their potential to compel an audience to watch and listen.
Commedia dell’Arte & Physical Theatre in Education
Commedia dell’arte and physical theatre stretch and challenge every participant, while engaging them through comedy and laughter. We can tailor a workshop to suit your needs as a school, college, university or community group
Imagine if your teachers could tell stories so that words leap from the page and children are inspired to dive into books, relish rich language and be ready to pick up a pen and write the next chapter.
We can help your teachers and teaching assistants strip away insecurities and find their voice with confidence, so that they can use the skills they were born with: the ability to stand strongly, move expressively and speak with passion.
Next performance is London:
An immersive Commedia dell’Arte experience bringing a traditional style Renaissance troupe to your school or college to perform a devised scenario that springboards students into an exhilarating participatory workshop.
Learning Through Theatre offers a range of performance workshops, specialising in commedia dell’arte. The focus is exaggerated characters, comic archetypes, slapstick and half masks. This exuberant theatre form dates back over 450 years and has influenced generations of writers, performers, directors and designers on both stage and screen. It is possible to learn the art of comedy and Learning Through Theatre can show you how.
“Wherever there are witty servants and domineering masters, young wives and old husbands, pompous pedants, thwarted lovers or bragging soldiers, the Commedia is there in spirit and also very often form”
Simon Callow, preface of The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell’Arte by A. Fava
Learning Through Theatre also offers workshops in Expressionism with a focus on the work of Steven Berkoff. Our lead tutor, Cheryl Stapleton, is a former dancer who trained with Philippe Gaulier, bringing over 20 years practical performance and directing experience to her teaching, influenced by the teachings of Jacques Lecoq and Jerzy Grotowski. Cheryl also offers one to one voice, presentation and confidence coaching.
“Fantastically engaging and freeing. I feel like my new found knowledge will help me on my journey as an actor”
Rhiannon, Commedia dell’arte workshop participant
Our workshops are –
- Physically challenging
- Technically demanding
What do educators get?
A workshop in your venue, tailored to your specific learning objectives, that is:
- Curriculum linked for devising and set texts: Servant of Two Masters, Accidental Death of An Anarchist, Tartuffe, The Hypochondriac, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Metamorphosis, Machinal.
- Engaging and inspiring for your entire class, nurturing the quietest learners to gain confidence and channeling the energy of the most lively!
- High energy and fast paced
- Skills focused and crammed with learning
- Challenging for all participants, stretching them out of their comfort zone
“The perfect workshop to introduce commedia. Cheryl worked with our script and tailored to our needs superbly. Interactive and inspiring with high quality demos. Cheryl has the ability to hold the space whilst enabling freedom of expression”
Ms. Lukas, Wynstones School
What do participants get?
- Understanding of Text in Performance with a practical exploration of specific elements of your selected set text
- Contextual knowledge and understanding of the influence of the key theatrical style: Commedia dell Arte, Expressionism, Farce or Slapstick
- Skills in improvisation and ensemble complicité as building blocks for devising
- Rapid acquisition of core performance skills including slapstick, stage proxemics, audience interaction and comedy
- Techniques and skills for performing with masks
- Confidence to exaggerate physically and vocally
- An understanding of the movement and behaviour of the stock characters
“It was as if John Cleese was giving a workshop!”
Izabela, Slapstick & Farce workshop participant
About the workshops
Our goal is to provide a rewarding and memorable learning experience that supports and embeds curriculum studies.
Our workshops engage and empower learners of all abilities. They stretch and challenge every learner, while engaging each of them through comedy and laughter.
Content, terminology and mask skills can be adapted to suit KS3 and GCSE students or intensified to challenge learners at university level.
Commedia dell’Arte is ideally suited to Key Stage 5 study as it fits so well with the curriculum, whether you are teaching BTEC, A Level or International Baccalaureate. Commedia dell’Arte is commonly used in many drama schools as a core training for first year performers as it lays the foundations for all other performance work teaching key skills such as complicité with the ensemble, stage presence, movement precision and performance stamina.
The magic of the mask is that for some it can provide security through a sense of anonymity, thus liberating them to express themselves with new found confidence; for others, it harnesses and channels energy into a positive characterisation process. For high level performers, rigorous physical precision is demanded to master comic timing and the nuances of character.
“Informative, fun and relevant. Delivered with warmth, wit, generosity and expertise”
Mr. Wakelin, Chichester College
(photos courtesy of Clint Randall www.pixelprphotography.co.uk)
Teacher/Student Study Guide for Commedia dell’Arte