Shrewsbury School

Commedia dell’arte drama workshop

Friday 17 January 2014

Shrewsbury’s Drama Department hosted a practical acting workshop this week, led by the renowned Commedia teacher Olly Crick.

A group of combined Lower and Upper Sixth Theatre Studies students participated in a series of fun and challenging improvised scenarios in which they learnt techniques that enabled them to make bold and sustained physical character choices. Olly also brought with him a collection of stunning, hand-made Commedia character masks. Each mask typifies a set of character traits and physical states. Stock Commedia characters such as Harlequin, Pantaloon, the Lovers and Smeraldina were demonstrated by Olly, and then brought to life by the students.

Once the students realised that they could trust their theatrical instincts and have some fun in the process, some truly stunning transformations took place. Normally reserved individuals became howling lunatics – the mask giving them licence to express ‘masked’ aspects of themselves.

For the Upper Sixth students studying Carlo Goldoni’s ‘A Servant to Two Masters’, the workshop gave them an invaluable insight into the theatrical history, tradition and structures of this celebrated and ever-popular theatrical style. We even got to hit each other with genuine ‘slapsticks’!

Brian Parsons, Director of Drama
Photos by Dana Riedel Photography

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