Learning Through Theatre is a performance company that produces original, devised theatre pieces as well as providing educational workshops nationwide. Learning Through Theatre specialises in Commedia dell’Arte, an Italian Renaissance style that uses half masks to exaggerate the comic characters that are central to the form. We also teach physical comedy (farce, slapstick, bouffon) and expressionist physical theatre (highly stylised, image-based performance that combines movement sequences with strong characters, chorus work and text). Learning Through Theatre was founded in 2013 and has worked with over 100 schools throughout the UK. We are currently touring our second devised play, The Breath of Love.
Cheryl Stapleton, Artistic Director
Cheryl is the founder of Learning Through Theatre and the lead facilitator. Cheryl has been working with Commedia dell’Arte for over 20 years as a performer, director and teacher. Cheryl is much in demand as a physical theatre and commedia dell’arte expert. She is a qualified teacher and has taught at Circomedia, RADA, University College London, University for the Creative Arts, University of Gloucester and at schools and colleges throughout the UK and abroad. Cheryl also provides one to one performance coaching and professional development courses.
Cheryl’s passion for Commedia dell’Arte was ignited at university when she spent several summers studying in France with John Rudlin, author of Commedia dell’Arte: An Actor’s Handbook. She went on to train in physical performance at Ecole Philippe Gaulier, in the 90’s, when Philippe ran his school in London. Her teachers there also included Marcello Magni and Anabel Arden. Whilst at Gaulier’s school, Cheryl met mask-maker and director Mike Chase who soon became her muse and informal mentor. Over the years, Cheryl has continued to hone her technique with leading experts including the maestro Antonio Fava. Working with her own performance company, Kabosh, in the mid-90’s, Cheryl devised Commedia dell’Arte shows touring festivals in London, Edinburgh, France and Ireland. During her professional freelance career, Cheryl has performed in the USA, Canada, France, Finland, Greece, Egypt, Ireland and throughout the UK.
“As a child I loved watching Harold Lloyd and the slapstick of Laurel and Hardy. I longed to be able to crack jokes and make people laugh myself, but the words, ‘you either have it or you don’t’ echoed in my ears. It was not until much later that I found that comedy was something you could learn. Working with traditional-style Renaissance masks provided the foundation I needed to learn the techniques of comedy.”
Learning Through Theatre employs Commedia dell’Arte trained actors and workshop leaders as required for specific projects. We are currently not recruiting. Our current creative team comprises:
John Broadbent trained in the Commedia Dell’Arte with Italian director Carlo Boso and co-founded The Fortunati, an English Commedia troupe that toured the UK and Europe with many productions. John has performed with TAG Teatro di Venezia at the Venice Carnival, London International Mime Festival and on tours of Italy, France and Holland. He teamed up with Chris Howitt on the award-winning Severed Heads (a very English take on the French Revolution) and collaborated with Ophaboom Theatre on many of their comedies. More recently, John toured the solo show Mak the Sheepstealer and played Chief Barker in Saved, a modern Mummer’s play.
Mark Reid trained in Australia qualifying with a Bachelor of Education in Drama and Dance. Since then he has honed his practice in comedic performance with such practitioners as Marcello Magni, Kevin Brooking, Angela De Castro and Barry Grantham. He has been a core member of Physical Theatre companies such as the Anglo-Brazilian Dende Collectiveand Forbidden Theatre. He has performed in a variety of venues from the streets of London’s Covent Garden to West End studio spaces.
James Anderson trained at Arts Educational Schools and then at Bristol University and worked extensively around the West country performing with companies such as BareBones Theatre, Theatre West and Shakespeare @ the Tobacco Factory, as well as helping to set up and run The Pelican Theatre in Stroud. For the past 18 years he has been a teacher at Bristol Cathedral Choir Schools leaving this year to return to performance.
Learning Through Theatre is fully insured and all employees have current enhanced DBS clearance.