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Laughing Stock: Workshops on the Commedia dell’arte



Laughing Stock:  Workshops on the Commedia dell’arte


Laughing Stock: Workshops on the Commedia dell’arte


Saturday, September 24, October 1 and October 8, 2022 from 10:30 am CT to 1:30 pm CT

Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago


 laughing stock


ItalCultura, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, presents a series of three workshops held by the Chicago theater company Laughing Stock Theatre on the origins, developments and influences of the Italian Commedia dell'Arte. Each session will include a theoretical section, followed by practical theater exercises, suitable for all levels of experience, from beginner to expert. There will also be live demonstrations by Laughing Stock teachers! 


Single class: $60

Three classes package: $150


Book your spot


Laughing Stock Theatre was founded in 2019 with the mission of exploring "modern commedia dell'arte." Their first show BIRDCOIN; OR THE ONE WHERE THEY LEARN TO RESPECT WOMEN was a huge success and so the ensemble traveled to Reggio Emilia to study classical Commedia dell'Arte with Antonio Fava. Since then they have presented shows at City Lit Theatre, Chicago Parks District, the Crowd Theater, and the Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival. Birdcoin was recently remounted at Ridgeville Parks District in Evanston and will be performed at the Towle Theatre in Hammond, Indiana in October. Laughing Stock Theatre creates and performs substantive, high-quality Commedia dell’Arte that spectacularizes the mundane and delights our audiences. 


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What is Commedia dell'Arte?

Saturday, September 24 from 10:30 am CT to 1:30 pm CT


Italian Culture Institute of Chicago


In this course, we will explore the history and development of this Classical Italian art form. The first hour will consist of a lecture on the early formation of Commedia, its framework and evolution through the 1600's, and its influence on modern incarnations. The second hour will shift to a practical exploration of how Commedia is performed, so students try out the "fixed types" (tippi fissi) for themselves. The third hour will be a demonstration of how these characters are used onstage, with an emphasis on the role of improvisation, lazzi, and the canovaccio, with elements of classroom participation.


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Commedia Across Disciplines 

Saturday, October 1 from 10:30 am CT to 1:30 pm CT


Italian Culture Institute of Chicago


This class will focus on exploring the various influences that Commedia dell'Arte has had on other areas of art and theater over the last 500 years. As the birthplace of modern theater, the connections are more varied than you might think! Through a mixture of acting exercises and classroom discussion, we will explore connections to improvisation & clowning, Shakespearean comedies, and modern sitcoms & cartoons.


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21st Century Commedia dell'Arte

Saturday, October 8 from 10:30 am CT to 1:30 pm CT


Italian Culture Institute of Chicago

This event will begin with a half-hour review/summary of the art form, for those who are new to Commedia dell'Arte. The main feature will be a public performance of "BirdCoin", an original work by Laughing Stock Theatre, lasting approximately 90 minutes. Following the performance, we will have a Q&A talkback with a focus on Commedia in the 21st Century: what historical elements can we keep, and what are the challenges in keeping this art form alive?


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headshot martin downsMartin Downs (Education Director) is a Chicago area actor, teacher, and director. He is a theater graduate of Northwestern University, as well as Antonio Fava's "Scuola Internazionale Dell'Attore Comico" and the improv training program at iO. He first fell in love with Commedia as the Artistic Director of The Panini Players at NU, and his Commedia experience continued as Assistant Director with "At Your Service" of the Bristol Renaissance Faire. He co-founded Laughing Stock Theatre, and has been teaching, acting, and directing Commedia performances ever since.



dan zellnerDan Zellner has worked as a playwright, actor, director and producer. He is a graduate of Tulane University and UCLA (MFA Acting Program) and is also a graduate of The Second City, iO and Annoyance training programs. He studied Commedia dell’Arte with Antonio Fava in Italy at the Scuola Internazionale dell’Attore Comico and has studied and promoted the work of the Sills/Spolin Workshop.  He also studied Italian at ItalCultura (Chicago) and attained CILS C1 certification.  He currently works at Northwestern University Libraries.



headshot jennifer mohrJennifer Mohr (Ensemble) has spent the last seven years as a teaching artist and performing with various theaters in Chicago including First Folio, Birch House Immersive, Babes with Blades, Artemisia, Idle Muse, and Midsommer Flight. While in college she spent time in London studying classical theater and Shakespeare, which has informed much of the work she does today. That love of classical theater eventually led her back to Commedia. She is a proud ensemble member with Laughingstock Theatre, performing Commedia dell'Arte all around the city of Chicago!


headshot claire hart proepperClaire Hart Proepper (Artistic Director) studied theater at the University of Virginia and has performed, directed, and choreographed at theaters around the Chicagoland area. She directed and performed Commedia at the Bristol Renaissance Faire for 8 years, performed in The Venetian Twins at Piccolo Theatre, and is a founding member of Laughing Stock Theatre. She has also had the privilege of studying with Antonio Fava at his Scuola Internazionale dell’Attore Comico.




Date: Da Saturday, September 24, 2022 a Saturday, October 08, 2022

Time: From 10:30 am To 1:30 pm

Organized by : Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago

In collaboration with : Laughing Stock Theatre and ItalCultura

Entrance : Free


Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Chicago