• commedia dell'arte and mask

commedia dell'arte and mask course

A brand new six week Commedia dell’Arte & Mask course with Didi Hopkins.

Didi is one of the leading teachers in the UK, who helped craft the National Theatre’s mega hit One Man, Two Guvnors using her background in Commedia Dell’arte, a 16th Century theatrical tradition, to shape appealing, timeless characters.

Masks unleash characters people don’t usually get to play, and inspire a huge expression of body, voice and emotions. The Mask characters are loads of fun and very mischievous.

We will be looking at timeless scenarios from Commedia dell’Arte, a form of Masked theatre from 16th Century Italy that went on to inspire Shakespeare, Restoration Theatre, Melodrama, Chekhov and Vaudeville and still inspires modern theatre and TV today.

Using Masks we’ll explore the vibrant characters from the Commedia world including Arlecchino, Capitano, Pantalone, Dottore, Colombina, Zanni and more.

We’ll be exploring together what the audience need to help make shows that keep them on the edge of their seat.

Most of all this is an opportunity to discover new characters and discover new potential and depths as a performer.

All Masks are provided. You don’t need any previous experience of Mask or Commedia but you should have a large amount of previous improv or acting experience to do this course. 

dates, time, location

Every Monday for 6 weeks from Monday 21st January 2019, with break on Monday 11th February 2019.

Exact Dates: Mon 21st Jan, Mon 28th Jan, Mon 4th Feb, Mon 18th Feb, Mon 25th Feb, Mon 4th Mar 2019.

Time: 7pm – 9:30pm.

Price: £180. Either payable all at once or with an initial payment of £90 followed by the remaining £90 once the course starts.

Venues: Theatre Delicatessen Studios, 1st Floor, next to 2 Finsbury Avenue (off Whitecross Place), London, EC2M 2PP.

Tube: Liverpool Street, Moorgate or Bank.

Ages: 18+

teacher Didi Hopkins

Didi is one of the UK’s leading experts on Commedi dell’Arte.

Didi Hopkins helped craft the National Theatre’s mega hit One Man, Two Guvnors, translating the only existing Commedia script to 1960’s Brighton.

She was also a central figure in developing Richard Beans’s new show for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Hypocrite.

She was the Commedia and movement consultant on Selina Cadell’s production of Love for Love at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Didi works for the National Theatre’s education department, delivering workshops on Commedia, Brecht, physical theatre, Berkoff and devising in schools.

Didi was the director of the acting programme at The Roundhouse Studios and has taught and directed at E15, RADA, CSSD, Mountview, Drama Centre, Rose Bruford, Italia Conti, Middlesex Univeristy, Montpelier animation school, Icelandic school of theatre, Tokyo University & many more.

She originally learnt Commedia from Carlo Boso & Stefano di Perocco from Italy. She then trained further with Carlo in Paris, Avignon and Venice, and played as part of the troupe in various of his international companies.

Didi then took Commedia back to her company Beryl and the Perils, as well as creating such companies as The Adrenalinis, The Cornettos & The Zaniettas.

Recently Didi has started a new company called Commedia Works with Elliott Ross.


We’ll be covering a variety of topics and themes over the course. The exact topics and themes will vary depending on the group.

  • Playing masked characters: Arlecchino, Capitano, Pantalone, Dottore, Colombina, Zanni.
  • Playing unmasked characters: Innamorati.
  • The archetypical stock characters and their relationships.
  • Master and servant interactions.
  • Commedia as a tradition at the root of all theatre.
  • Commedia scenarios and their connection to modern theatre, TV and sitcoms.
  • Using mask to let go and find new characters and unleash potential in the performer.
  • Discovering and exploring what the audience need.
  • Communication and relationship with the audience.
  • Relationships, cruelty, truth and love.
  • The invisible space of the character.
  • How to affect the space before you even enter.
  • Changing the motion and the tension of the air.
  • What makes a interesting performance.
  • Action, rhythm, physicality and storytelling.