The Puppeteers: A Wonderful Weirdness in Oz

Image compiled by David Zarko.
This weekend my first production as a director with Zuppa del Giorno - The Puppeteers - opens.  You can buy tickets here, but why do that before you've had a chance to check out some of the development first?  Our process outside of the rehearsal room has been recorded on a 'blog:  Check us out!

Zuppa del Giorno: The Puppeteers, Meeting #1

This weekend we'll have the first cast-inclusive collaborative meeting to discuss direction for Zuppa del Giorno's new production slated for January 12th: The Puppeteers; or, In Spite of It All.  Over the course of the weekend we'll discuss story elements, explore potential characters, and maybe even train a little at the kind of expansive physical comedy the show will undoubtedly incorporate.  We'll go in blind, and come out a little less blind and with germs that will hopefully infect with enthusiasm.

Zuppa del Giorno: Welcome Meeting

Today is the first of many meetings to lay groundwork for the upcoming original Zuppa del Giorno comedy.  We're working with an entirely new player this time - Elizabeth Hope Williams - and so I'll be meeting briefly with her to give her some context before we start tossing around ideas.  We'll look at photos from our past shows, discuss her experience and generally fill in any gaps she may have as it pertains to the commedia dell'arte.  It's exciting to return to this work, and more story-development meetings are bound to crop up as the fall progresses.

Workshop & Production: Marywood University

Tomorrow I'm off to Scranton once again to co-lead a week's workshops in the commedia dell'arte for Marywood's undergraduate theatre students, all of it culminating in a performance of an original commedia play in the town square on Labor Day - La Festa Italiana.  It's been two years since I participated in this annual course, and I'm very excited to get back to it.  It's supported by the Electric Theatre Company in conjunction with The Portal Project, which works to integrate education with the community at large.  This workshop is immensely rewarding every time, so I'm eager to return to it.

In Bocca al Lupo 2009

So we took another class to Italy in July. That's where I was for all of July. And I totally and completely forgot to post it. So . . . SURPRISE! I'm back, and it was an incredible event of directing, teaching, acting and collaborating -- truly the best we've had yet. In addition to that, Heather Stuart and I got to perform at the inauguration of a renovated amphitheater in Aquapendente. We adapted the balcony scene from our clown Romeo & Juliet, and got the audience laughing and sighing, even with the text all in English. An amazing adventure, all around.

Zuppa del Giorno: The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo & Juliet

Once upon a time, a playwright of some modest ability took a scenario from the commedia dell'arte and gave it his own spin, turning it into a tragic love story so resonant it quickly became THE love story. Four hundred years later, the contemporary commedia dell'arte troupe Zuppa del Giorno irreverently returns "Romeo & Juliet" to its boisterous beginnings. Once again first love is fresh, foolish and funny, and with the help of classic commedia characters, a couple of red noses and a couple of Italian artists to boot, a roller-coaster of a comedy is ready to ride!

But will the troupe craft this classic to a comic conclusion, or will tragedy take its normally inevitable toll?

Previews begin Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 7:00pm
Closes Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 5:00pm

Electric Theatre Company
326 Spruce Street, 2nd Floor
Scranton, PA
Tickets 570/558-1515 - Office 570/558-1520

Zuppa del Giorno: North Pocono High School

Zuppa del Giorno is all set to perform its first artist-in-residency assignment through the NEIU (no, the other one). From October 6th through 10th we'll be teaching at North Pocono High, and not just theatre, either. In addition to two theatre classes daily, we've added a Shakespeare class and a physical education one. The Shakespeare should be good practice for our upcoming production of The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo & Juliet. The gym class . . . uh . . .. Well, let's just say that teaching acrobalance to teenagers is rarely boring.

The Portal Project: The Betrothed

The Electric Theatre Company (formerly The Northeast Theatre) teamed up with Marywood University's theatre department a little over a year ago to collaborate on productions and education. Last year we trained their students in public performance and cast some of them in our original production, Prohibitive Standards. This year, we trained them in our unique brand of contemporary commedia dell'arte, and they will be performing at the Scranton Italian festival.

Come see the original commedia dell'arte scenario, The Betrothed, to be performed August 31 at 4:00 and September 1 at 1:00 and 4:00. It will contain a lot of my teaching, a bit of my direction, and all my love for our incredible students.

Clown Romeo & Juliet

All next week I'll be out of town for an initial collaborative workshop to develop Zuppa del Giorno's proposed clown/commedia dell'arte version of Romeo & Juliet. Scranton, Pennsylvania, will be my host as well as host to bunches of other talented people at various times throughout the week. So come on out to The Northeast Theatre to play, if you can! There are no rules! Beginnings are so much freaking fun!

The Portal Project: Busking

Next week, all week, I'll be meeting the theatre students at Marywood University and teaching them the ways of character creation, improvisation and busking (or: public performance). The Portal Project is a collaboration between the university and The Northeast Theatre that's intended to involve the entire community in educating and entertaining. You can watch the end result on the street of Scranton at the end of next week, for their annual Festa Italiana.