Practical Information

Working Hours: Monday to Friday 9.30- 12.30 and 13.30- 16.30

Working language: The main working language is English, translations into Italian, French, German and Danish are possible…

Maximum number of participants: 20


English/ Italian

english/ German


Italy: Cristina Coltelli +0039 366 50 353 45

Denmark: Finbarr Ryan +0045 39 61 90 82

Germany: Petra Föhrenbach +0049 0177 506 79 48





International summer workshop in physical theatre

Commedia dell´ Arte and the Grotesque

A study in comic art, exploring the routes of grotesque realism and its relation to the Commedia dell´ Arte

"Because laughing is proper to the man"
F. Rabelais

As the grotesque often marked the fringes of social order, it had its mocking and provoking function in the swings and roundabouts of social exclusion and the transformation of social and cultural codes. Combining historical research with performing experience, we try to find the "fringes" of today.
Taking Rabelais´ Gargantua and Pantagruel as a sourcebook, we will work with archetypical grotesque characters, using the skills of Commedia dell´ Arte, physical training, improvisation techniques, mask-making and mask performance. We finish with a public performance.

The workshop is designed as a practical study, putting theories to a test with the whole range of on-the-floor-practice, gathering a deeper understanding of the social functions of laughter and comedy and get new input for contemporary theatre.


Subjects in detail

Commedia dell´Arte 1st week
- Introduction and historical background
- Presentation and use of the main characters/ archetypes
- Physical training
- Performing the half mask
- Stage fighting
- Commedia dell´ Arte and the Grotesque, a physical study
- Development of archetypical grotesque characters

Mask- making 2nd week
- Theory: history and sociocultural functions of masks, requirements of a theatrical mask, aesthetics of the grotesque
- Analysis of visual material, paintings, drolleries
- Introduction to artistic skills, handcrafts and materials
- Design of a mask
- Clay model
- Plaster mould and papermasché
- Surface treatment, painting, special finish, fitting of the mask

Performing 3rd week
- Synopsis of the first two week
- Performing the grotesque mask
- Improvisation of scenes, analysis, recovery of the 'good' scenic material
- Creating a Canovaccio/ storyline/ show
- Public performance
- Final pantagruelic dinner on the beach, exploring the true Rabelais …


Cristina Coltelli, Italy - Commedia dell´ Arte, physical training, improvisation
Finbarr Ryan, Ireland - mask making, performing the mask
Petra Föhrenbach, Germany - mask making, cultural and historical background

The workshop is cooperation of Herlaking, Italy and the Masquerade Studio Berlin- Copenhagen.


Pictures of the first week of the workshop 2010

Pictures of the second week mask making

Pictures of the third week

Final performance in Bagheria, Italy, 18.7.2010