The wonders of the internet! I am always amazed at the simple things in life and how technology has enabled us to talk and record conversations and interviews with people all over the world. Today I was talking to and did a great interview with clown/teacher/author Joe Dieffenbacher who resides in Oxford, UK. His professional work as a clown spans over 3 decades and he has taught at some very prestigious schools as well. His new book “Clown ~ The Physical Comedian” is a great textbook for working on a clown show.
Dario Fo, actor, playwright, theatre director, stage designer, political activist, artist and author who, having attained international fame in theatre, produced the first of his six novels at the age of 88 – was there any limit to his versatile genius? He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and works such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist or Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay secured his reputation as the outstanding political playwright of his age. Unlike other writers of a similar mind, Fo’s chosen genre was farce, so his drama is a uniquely engaging mixture of laughter and anger. In 1954 he married Franca Rame, a member of a family-company of touring players. The personal and professional partnership of the two over sixty years was probably unique in theatre history. Her inherited, instinctive knowledge of stagecraft was invaluable to him, but although she was always recognized as an actor of considerable talent, her contribution to the writing of the plays was long undervalued. With the emergence of the feminist movement, she increasingly asserted herself, notably with a series of one-woman works she wrote and performed. She became one of Italy’s and Europe’s leading feminist campaigners, and as such a target for right-wing terrorist groups. In 1973, she was kidnapped and raped by neo-Fascist thugs. Although the subjects of their plays, with their fearless attacks on corruption and satire of Popes and politicians, were often taken from the headlines of the day, their theatre was deeply rooted in theatrical tradition. The Nobel Prize citation stated that Fo ‘emulated the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden’, but this political campaigning came at a cost. The couple’s militant reputation meant that they were for many years barred from Italian television and banned from entering the USA, but their plays were staged from London to Tokyo and they themselves were acclaimed wherever they toured. Joseph Farrell translated many of their works and knew Dario and Franca well. His biography is a complete account of the various activities and multifaceted lives of two extraordinary individuals
Gregg Goldston performing his original solo piece ‘Digits’.
Gregg Goldston has performed for over 35 years as a professional mime artist. Having worked with the master Marcel Marceau for over 20 years, he brings to his art a refined sense of professional talent. In this interview Gregg talks about his work, mime history and his relationship with Marcel Marceau.
There has been an enormous revival of interest in Commedia dell’arte. And it remains a central part of many drama school courses. In Commedia dell’arte in the Twentieth Century John Rublin first examines the origins of this vital theatrical form and charts its recent revival through the work of companies like Tag, Theatre de Complicite and the influential methods of Jacques Lecoq. The second part of the book provides a unique practical guide for would-be practitioners: demonstrating how to approach the roles of Zanni, Arlecchion, Brighella, Pantalone, Dottore, and the Lovers in terms of movement, mask-work and voice. As well as offering a range of lazzi or comic business, improvisation exercises, sample monologues,and dialogues. No other book so clearly outlines the specific culture of Commedia or provides such a practical guide to its techniques. This immensely timely and useful handbook will be an essential purchase for all actors, students, and teachers.
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“This new book by John Rudlin is much more than a re-examination of a theatrical style long past – in Rudlin’s hands, the whole subject becomes not only vital to today’s creators of theatre, but to the future as well.”– Theatre Scotland
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“John Rudlin describes in great detail every aspect of commedia dell’arte. Having personally studied with John Rudlin, he is today’s master of the masked world. Indepth character analysis, sample plots, illustrations, pictures of masks, detailed background information, and an overall ‘everything you need to know’ by the man who knows better than anyone.”
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Rudlin compacts a ton of useful information, in the history of the art, Mask/character analyzation, and current day Commedia practitioners. I’ve found it a very reliable source for the subject and recommend it to anyone interested in Commedia dell’Arte, either practically or academically.
Carlo Mazzone-Clementi (12 December 1920 – 5 November 2000) was a performer and founder of two schools of commedia, mime and physical theater as well as a contemporary and colleague of leaders of modern European theater. From his arrival in the USA in 1957, he was largely responsible for the spreading of commedia dell’arte in North America.
While he was performing with Piccolo Teatro as well as teaching in Rome, the American theatre scholar and director Eric Bentley came to Italy to direct the Padua Players company in the first Italian production of Bertolt Brecht. Then, with Bentley’s patronage, Mazzone-Clementi toured the United States in 1958, conducting workshops in mime and commedia, and introducing the leather masks of Amleto Sartori to this country. That led to a teaching assignment at theCarnegie Institute of Technology, followed by Brandeis University, the University of California at Berkeley, the American Conservatory Theater and others. He was known as Carlo Mazzone until 1965 when he worked with the new acting ensemble at the Theatre of Lincoln Center. From then on he was known as Carlo Mazzone-Clementi. Clementi was the name of his mother and his grandfather, Girolamo Clementi, who was versed in the work of Paduan playwright and forerunner of commedia dell’arte, Angelo Beolco, known as “Ruzzante.”
In 1972, Mazzone-Clementi and his wife Jane Hill, a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon, went to Humboldt County, California to conduct summer workshops at their rural property. From this experience came the decision to re-locate permanently in Humboldt and to establish a full-time actor training program. In 1974, the couple purchased the Oddfellows Hall in Blue Lake, California and co-founded the Dell’Arte School of Mime and Comedy, now known as theDell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. Hill also joined the faculty at College of the Redwoods, where the pair created the Grand Comedy Festival at Qual-a-wa-loo, a summer repertory festival that produced plays of Shakespeare in rotation with musical adaptations of those plays; Mazzone-Clementi served as the festival’s artistic director for six years. In 1974 their article, “Commedia and the Actor” was published in The Drama Review TDR (journal).
Mazzone-Clementi moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1984 and founded a second sister theater school there, named the Commedia School. In 1994 returned to California and continued teaching until shortly before his death on 5 November 2000 in San Francisco.
I will post another ‘special’ edition on Carlo (with additional photographs taken in the studio) in 2017 with interviews with Hovey Burgess, Stanley Allan Sherman and a few others who knew him well.
The entrance to Celebration Barn in South Paris, Maine is charming and inviting.
Here is the scoop of this lovely treasure in the mountains of Maine.
“Celebration Barn Theater is an international residential center for creating and presenting original theater. Dedicated to growing a creative community, both locally and within the larger national and international performing arts field, the Barn fuels the development of new theater that is crafted, innovative, and wildly alive. Founded in 1972 on a farm in South Paris, Maine, Celebration Barn was born out of internationally acclaimed mime artist Tony Montanaro’s drive to encourage people to create their own original theater. Now in its 42nd season. Celebration Barn is world renowned for generating diverse and uniquely personal physical theater.”
An interview with the Head of Physical Acting at Yale Drama School and a Professor of Physical Acting at Juilliard Drama School. Christopher Bayes has had much experience with the ‘clown’ and ‘commedia dell’arte’ styles of acting. In this interview he talks about his work as a director and teacher and about the shows he has directed. What the state of affairs is with the current clown and commedia dell’arte work that is being produced. For the Broadway show ‘39 STEPS‘ Christopher was Movement Director & and created Additional Movement.
“My greatest wish is that we can have a more playful theater, a theater without so much math or formula, a theater full of imagination, full of poetry, tragedy and great beauty. I want to laugh more when I go to the theater. I want to be astonished by the logic of nonsense and by the blistering ferocity of passion expressed without worry and given away with complete and hilarious abandon. I love to see actors surprised by their talent.”
Here is an excerpt of an interview done with Floriana in the book “Bringing The Body to the Stage and Screen: Expressive Movement for Performers” by Annette Lust published this year by Scarecrow Press.
Part 2 – Interview with Hovey Burgess by Jim Moore from Jim Moore.
Here is Part 2 of an interview I did with circus historian, book collector, teacher, juggler Hovey Burgess. Hovey Burgess literally wrote the book on Circus Techniques (1976) which is still in print. Carlo Mazzone-Clementi considered Hovey his colleague working with him at New York University and American Conservatory Theatre and spending endless days and night exploring Commedia Dell’Arte. He has taught at some of the finest professional conservatory programs in theatre. He taught at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, Ultimate Clown School, Dell’Arte, and is a forty year veteran of New York University where he first introduced the concept of Circus Arts in the theater curriculum, an idea which quickly spread to theaters programs across America. He also taught at The Juilliard School, American Conservatory Theatre, Sarah Lawrence College, National Theatre for the Deaf, National Theatre School of Canada, and the Israeli National Theatre for Youth. Hovey was circus choreographer for the motion picture Popeye (1980) staring his former Juilliard student Robin Williams.