Dell’Arte online workshops offer modern twist on historic theatre forms

Michael Serwitch and Debbie McMahon in A Very Grand Guignol Christmas. Photo by Mark Bennington

Dell’Arte International 

BLUE LAKE – Dell’Arte International is offering a series of theatre workshops designed for actors to investigate bold forms of expression while exploring long-standing comedic and dramatic forms that continue to entertain and touch audiences. 

 “Creation is possible, is being done, and is undergoing adaptation and innovation right now as we move through such unprecedented times,” said Dell’Arte Producing Artistic Director Michael Fields. “These workshops are designed to inspire, to look forward to, to question and to investigate new forms, ways and possibilities for what will come and what is possible right now.”

 Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, Dell’Arte shifted to online platforms for performances and training purposes. These spring offerings are a way to keep that momentum going until in-person gatherings can safely resume. To learn more about the workshops, visit 

The following are the workshops:

 Character Laboratory

Character Laboratory is a dive into the creation of original, physical characters from the ground up, rooted in the principles of Dell’Arte’s full-time actor training programs.

Through the embodiment of images and forces found in the world around us, discover how movement gives rise to a character’s body, voice, perspective and story. 

The instructors are Lauren Wilson and Janessa Johnsrude. The workshop will be held Monbday through Friday, Feb. 1 to Feb. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon and 1  to 3 p.m.

Resistance Theatre

This workshop will explore the vital connections of devising theatre in connection to social movements of resistance. 

Starting with inspiration from international social movements like the French Revolution to, the Living Newspaper Project in the WPA, to Teatro Campesino and the Farmworkers’ Movement, along with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, to the present day, we will enter the process of devising theatre with the intention of creating work that is intentionally in resistance to the status quo and has the possibility to help provoke and support change.

The instructor is Michael Fields. The workshop will be held on Mondays, Feb. 1 to Feb. 22 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Theatre of Laughter and Terror

This unique theatre form – the “theatre of laughter and terror” with a little spatter thrown in – is the precursor to the modern horror film and has never been more relevant.

It was the first form of theatre Hitler banned once the Nazis occupied Paris. From hot and cold showers, to scripts, to effects techniques, this workshop will provide a primer in what was once the most popular theatre form in the world.

The instructors are Debbie McMahon (artistic director of the Grand Guignolers in L.A.) and Michael Fields from Dell’Arte.

The workshop will be held Feb 6 to 27 on Saturdays, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Feb. 6 will be a two-hour lecture with film clips, photos and history, offered as a stand-alone workshop for folks who are not actors, but are interested in the Grand Guignol form.

Taller de Dramaturgia Online
(Estructura Dramatica) in Spanish

A theoretical and practical workshop that offers tools to analyze and create the dramatic structure in works of theatre. By analyzing actions, conflict, internal forces and dynamics, we will set the foundations of the play. 

This workshop is aimed at actors, devisers, playwrights, directors, screenwriters and anyone interested in crafting original material for the stage or screen. 

The instructor is Carlos Gallegos. The workshop will be held March 6 to 27, on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m.

Funny Together

Comedic duos and partnering in a time of social isolation? Yes! Now more than ever we need to find new ways of partnering and celebrating each other's funny. Join partners on the stage and in life Elizabeth Nelson and Gabe McKinney in discovering how to create material and explore the dynamics of playing in duos. This workshop will delve into comedic archetypes, satire, improvisation and any other means necessary to find funny, together.

 The workshop will be held March 20, 21, 27 and 28 from 10 a.m. to noon.


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