‘The Breath of Love’

A commedia dell’arte performance and workshop for schools and colleges

Unscrupulous masters, artful servants, the dead and … the undead

The year is 1590 and the wind of change is blowing through the field of knowledge.

Doctor Leglimbo, renowned alchemist, is on the brink of a profound discovery – a divine elixir that will open Death’s door and guide the departed back into the light.

Missing a key component, he enlists his hapless servant Harlequin to capture the vital vapour…

But, when love is in the air and everyone is out to get rich… who knows where their greed will take them?

Enquire Now – download an enquiry form

“Really got under the skin of commedia dell’arte; extremely in depth and very well paced; balance of good fun and structured learning; very inclusive – all had a chance to perform” 

Alex Standen McDougal, Beaudesert Park School


An immersive commedia dell’arte experience, this play is devised as a springboard into an exhilarating participatory workshop that enables students of all ages and abilities to rapidly acquire transferable physical performance skills:

  • Greater physical awareness and expression
  • Confidence to fully embody characters
  • Performance discipline with vocal and physical control
  • Understanding of the fundamental elements of commedia dell’arte and the far-reaching influence of this style
  • Techniques for performing in masks and stage awareness
  • Techniques for spontaneous improvisation and devising
  • Inspiration for their own performance work

“When Quack and Zany are thus met
The world of Science begins to fret”

The influence of commedia dell’arte runs strongly through so many types of performance today: farce, slapstick, pantomime, the great silent comedians, sitcom and even cartoons can all be traced back to this 16th century performance form. It is also thanks to commedia dell’arte that we have many familiar comic character types: the foolish servant, the greedy old master, the cowardly boaster, the pompous pedant, the heartbroken romantic.

A timeless comedy, suitable for all ages, guaranteed to enthral and entertain

Through a lively performance, we transport your students back to Renaissance Italy to meet an authentic troupe of players performing a short traditional style scenario. Students then launch into a two hour, fast-paced workshop where they will experience performing in the masks, learning how to characterise and how to bring the masks to life with expert tutelage from our performer-coaches.

The workshop will cover:

  • how the masked characters move, speak, behave and interact
  • the energy, speed, level of exaggeration and the language
  • techniques for mask work and comedy, devising lazzi (physical comic gags) and meccanismi (rehearsed comic sequences)
  • the actor-audience relationship

A fantastic introduction to physical performance for any age group. This package is an ideal curriculum support for introducing devising and for A Level set text studies: A Servant of Two Masters, Accidental Death of An Anarchist and the comedies of Moliere and Shakespeare.


“There is really no substitute when teaching commedia dell’arte for seeing it enacted live. Thanks for a very professional, involving and educational session”

Dr L. Sampson, University College London

“We got to learn how real practitioners work in commedia and seeing it performed in front of me made it way more understandable”

Aude,  UCL audience member and workshop participant

“An excellent workshop for introducing students to commedia dell’arte. They loved the practical activities, particularly those involving stage fighting and slapstick”

H. Foy, Saffron Walden School


Cheryl Stapleton

Cheryl trained with Philippe Gaulier, John Rudlin, Antonio Fava and Michael Chase. Cheryl has has been working with Commedia dell’Arte for over 20 years, founding Kabosh Commedia troupe in the mid-90’s, touring festivals in London, Edinburgh, France and Ireland. During her professional freelance career, Cheryl has performed internationally and founded Learning Through Theatre in 2013, delivering workshops nationwide. This is the company’s second show, devised as an ensemble.

John Broadbent

John 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 Saveda modern Mummer’s play.

Mark Reid

Mark 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.

Production requirements

We can offer the show as a two or three hander. The show runs for 30 mins (2 hander) or 40 mins (3 hander). Our needs are simple:

  • a performance space that is a minimum of 4 metres x 4 metres;
  • floor area to perform on, rather than a raised stage, so that we can have close interaction with the audience;
  • access to the performance space at least 30 minutes before the performance in order to set up;
  • no specific lighting required. A generic cover would be beneficial, if available, but not essential;
  • no sound requirements;
  • we need a minimum of 10 minutes turnaround before going into the workshop.


We believe we have created a package that is affordable, flexible and highly professional.

Having worked extensively with schools delivering workshops and our previous show-workshop package, we are aware that cost is a primary consideration. We work with only two to three highly trained performer-coaches meaning we can keep our costs down. We work flexibly to our meet our clients needs. The duration of the mask skills workshop that follows the performance can be increased or decreased. Contact Cheryl to discuss your school or colleges requirements and she will be able to provide you with a tailored quote. Prices start from only £500.


Enquiry Form- ‘The Breath Of Love’

We are taking bookings now for 2019-2020 academic year. You can download and complete the enquiry form above or use the contact form below.

Preview shows

Stroud Theatre Festival, 13th-15th September 2019

We will be performing in the George Room at The Sub Rooms, Stroud as part of the Stroud Theatre Festival from 13th-15th September 2019 and delivering a two hour workshop on Saturday 14th September (times t.b.c.). We have arranged a special Friday afternoon 1pm show for schools, so if you are interested in bringing a school group, please do get in touch.

Friday 13th Sept – 1pm & 8pm

Saturday 14th Sept – 2.30pm, followed by a 2 hour workshop ideal CPD for teachers as an introduction to the T.I.E. tour

Sunday 15th Sept – 6.30pm

Booking for these preview shows will be via the Stroud Theatre Festival’s website. Ticket sales should go live by the end of June, but if you would like to pre-reserve, please contact Cheryl in the first instance on 07932 067585 or via the contact form below:

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