The Tut’Zanni Theatre Company just finished a memorable workshop and performance tour of schools in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The company, comprised of six actors who met studying at the Accademia dell’Arte in 2006, reunited earlier this year in Arezzo Italy to develop a Commedia dell’Arte-based show, called Art For Sale.
After earning a coveted place performing in the New York Fringe in August, with their show Art For Sale this group of talented performers has gone on to tour the southeastern United States offering a series of performances and workshops at colleges and venues throughout the region. They made stops at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas; University of Arkansas and several high schools in the Fayetteville Arkansas area; Mississippi University for Women in Columbus Mississippi; as well as a fundraising performance to benefit the Accademia Scholarship Fund at the Argenta Theatre in Little Rock, Arkansas on September 28.
Company member and ADA alum Liam Mulshine was able to share his thoughts on the tour and some of the highlights from the road:
The tour began with an intensive three-day workshop with theatre students at Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Company members Ali Landvatter, Dory Ford Sibley and I took students through warm-ups and exercises with an emphasis on physicality, then acquainted them with some of the more popular Commedia characters and masks. Students developed slightly twisted versions of well-known fairy tales, folk tales and fables – the Emperor became a proud (yet foolish and unclothed) Capitano, Pedrolino Red Riding Hood had to deal with her lascivious Magnifico grandma who was hot for the wolf , and Hansel ended up leaving Gretl to pursue the tantalizing singing Strega, among other sordid re-tellings.The students presented them for an enthusiastic crowd of friends and faculty on the last day of the workshop.
In Little Rock, the other members of Tut’Zanni – Molly Tomhave, Allegra Libonati, and Patrick Berger joined with Ali, Dory and I for raucous back-to-back performances and then a workshop with students at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School. Tut’Zanni was invited to a local Little Rock TV morning show for an interview, then got to perform Art For Sale at the beautiful Argenta Community Theater for the Amici dell’Arte to help raise funds for scholarships to the Accademia dell’Arte.
In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Tut’Zanni lead workshops at Fayetteville High School and at the University of Arkansas, then performed for a delighted audience at the Studio Theater at the Walton Arts Center. Then it was off to Columbus, Mississippi, to teach a workshop for students at the Mississippi University for Women. Company members also lead a workshop with the Mississippi Theatre Association, where they gave teachers from around the state some tools and games that emphasize focus, specificity, and full-body engagement to use in lesson plans with their own students.
The whole tour was a great success and an unforgettable adventure for the six members of Tut’Zanni! It was thrilling to expose students to a newly reinvigorated theatre form and see them expand their own creative boundaries as they put on masks for the first time. Many of them expressed interest in studying at the Accademia dell’Arte.
There are already plans brewing for Tut’Zanni to begin developing new work, as well as
many potential workshop engagements to come, at these schools and at others around the